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Getting noticed in the civilian market


Heather Newcomb Aurora, CO

I am finding it difficult to get my resume noticed in the civilian market despite having it re-worked by a member of Hire Heroes. I feel lost and unsure of how to best sell what I can bring to the table.

16 November 2020 14 replies Resumes & Cover Letters



Jeff Martin Ashburn, VA

I’d suggest that you network at the target company or industry. Use LinkedIn to find people already working there and reach out to them. Ask them the process they used to get hired and ask them to help you navigate the hiring process and if they are willing, ask them to submit you as a referral. These activities require much more time on your part but in my opinion would greatly increase your chances for success. Good luck!


Sherry Wynn Austin, TX

Hi Heather!
My background was USAF Public Affairs and I am happy to share my experience in transitioning to my current role as Corporate Social Responsibility Manager with you. Will reach out to the email that Brian shared just now and make the connection! Happy to help a fellow PA!


Jennifer Darkazalli New York, NY

Hi Heather,
As many have mentioned a resume is a living document that should continually be updated and changing. When I was first transitioning out of the military, I sent my resume to roughly 20 friends, classmates, and collogues, asking for their honest opinions and feedback. Some of the feedback was quite harsh while other feedback encouraged and created confidence in me to continue to edit and perfect my resume. There is no perfect resume but you will know when yours is on the right track when you start landing interviews. I would suggest forwarding your resume to as many folks as you can then setting a goal of blocking a few hours out daily for a month and consolidate feedback and rework your resume a little bit each day. Keep a running log spreadsheet of jobs you have applied to with the date so that you can track progress as well.
Best wishes and best of luck.


Heather Newcomb Aurora, CO

Thank you all for the answers, tips, and insight. I will definitely take a few of you up on your offer of assistance. I truly appreciate the help as I'm feeling quite lost, but all of your responses are the flashlight I needed to find my way. Cheers!


Ron Lanzo Alpharetta, GA

Do you want to work in Public Affairs or Academia? Whatever work you've put into your resume should also be represented on your LinkedIn profile. For example, remove the "First-Class" from your title, Curriculum Branch Chief should be sufficient.

Second Joe's response below. Develop your network. Every job I've gotten stemmed from someone I knew or worked with previously. There's a lot of prior-service members and civilians with whom you've interacted over your career who are now in industry, and may know of opportunities where you would be well suited. Find them, connect, and exploit what they know.


John Joaquin Washington, DC

Thank you for your service. I too can offer my insight off line if you are interested. Generally it is important to translate your military experience into what is understandable to private sector hiring managers. Remove as much of the military specific jargon to more to important tasks and results. Also, borrow from/map to the job descriptions of the positions you are interested in and applying to. And to how others describe themselves in Linkedin. When I have sought a new role I had a customized resume for each targeted position, that spoke specifically to what they were looking for. Takes some work to do, but more fruitful than a generic resume. Remember machines read resumes first and match key words to cull out who they want to review by hand.


Edward Winchester Billerica, MA

Hi Heather,

I find the easiest way to get noticed these days is to setup a profile @ There are lots of jobs and resources to find jobs. I get many in-mails from companies wanting to hire. I hope this helps.

Ed W.


Thom Roose Ft Mitchell, KY

Hi Heather- I agree with the other posts on here- it is incredibly difficult to get noticed when applying to job postings, especially in today's environment, and networking is usually the best approach. That said, Tailoring each and every resume you send out to the role that is being advertised is wise. Have a "base" resume to work from (sounds like you have that already) then tweak it for each role you apply to. Maybe have a few backup bullets of things you've done that make you just that much more relevant to the employers needs than your base resume might indicate. When I transitioned a while back, I think I had 50+ versions of the same resume.

Its good that you're taking the time to "de militarize" your resume. Its amazing how many terms we as servicemen and women are common, but in reality they're not. Translating is never easy, and multiple eyes looking at it is important. Like others on this thread, please reach out to me and I'm happy to give you my thoughts. Good luck!


Ling Wong Duxbury, MA

By getting your resume noticed, I assume that you are posting that to various job sites. That is not the best environment in general and your resume may not get past some of the automated screening tools. The prior two answers is very much on point, review your resume and make sure that it is relevant to someone reviewing it, then work the social networks such as this and Linkedin, etc. Work on your personal brand, make it coherent, and apply it to your online presence.


Brian Armstrong Ridgefield, CT

Hi Heather,

Thank you for your service. I've found that simply sending your resume to companies offer yields poor results, even for qualified applicants. Your best bet is to try to network your way to a job. First, look for job's that interest you. Once you've found a few, check LinkedIn and see if you can connect with anyone who currently works at that company, and see if they will submit your resume for the job. Internal submissions are often viewed first, and the submitter is often eligible for a finder's fee, so they are normally happy to help. If you don't have any luck connecting with someone, try to find an internal recruiter in HR for that company. I've found that if you are a good fit for the position, they are likely to get back to you because you are helping them do their job of finding qualified applicants. Hope that helps.


Brian FitzPatrick Cedar Park, TX

Hi Heather, I was an O-5 when I retired also. Getting your resume past HR/TA is going to be a challenge. Those folks most likely never served and they do not know how to read it. You will need to flex your network to get your resume in through the "backdoor". Online applications use an algorithm which does not speak military. I am not sure what your job in the Air Force is but having an offline session with me or another IBM veteran can help give you some perspective.


Cortney Jarrett Hendersonville, TN

I would recommend reaching out to different contractor/hiring companies. They can review your experience, help build your resume, and find opportunities for you. When I separated, I went to work for a company that specialized in helping military members find careers. There are still some companies out there that specialize in helping military members. These companies recognize the soft skills taught by the military as well as being able to act as a liaison during the process. A few companies/sites that I would recommend would be Bradley Morris ( and I would also research the companies listed in this article as they are veteran friendly companies:

It is hard to transition from military life to civilian life as our terminology is different and can be difficult to speak the same "language". I believe that companies like Bradly Morris help bridge that gap.

Best of luck to you!

Cortney Jarrett


Joe Woodward Tarpon Springs, FL

LtCol Newcomb...Having transitioned several years ago, let me offer several thoughts. First is your network - specifically, do you have industry members you interact with socially or through work that you can leverage? The other thing I would mention is your resume, I found it can be challenging to 'translate' from Military experience to Civilian expertise. If I can assist in anyway please reachout via email


Mika Partridge Greensboro, NC

Hi Heather, I'm happy to talk with you one-one-on. Feel free to shoot me a private message. Would like to understand more about your specific situation so I can assist you in a way that makes sense. Applying to job postings isn't always the easiest way to get noticed in the civilian market. It's often the network that gets you in. Please reach out so we can chat.

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