CV writing tips for military kids

How to turn the challenges of Defence family life into a stand-out CV.


Growing up in a Defence family can be a unique experience that presents both challenges and opportunities. As a military kid, you may have had to move frequently, adapt to new environments, and develop resilience in the face of adversity. These experiences can be valuable in the job market, and it's important to showcase them effectively in your CV.

In this article, we'll provide some tips for Defence kids on how to craft a strong CV that highlights your unique skills and experiences. Whether you're applying for your first job or transitioning to a new career, these tips can help you showcase your strengths and stand out to potential employers.

And remember, if you need some help, the RSL Veterans’ Employment Program is free for the children of serving and former ADF members. From writing job applications to introducing you to employers in your area, we've got your back. 

Tip #1: Highlight your mobility

One of the unique challenges of being a military kid is the frequent moves that come with the lifestyle. However, this can also be a strength in the workforce. Military kids are often highly adaptable and able to work effectively with diverse groups of people.

When crafting your CV, make sure to highlight your mobility and adaptability. This might include mentioning the number of times you've moved, the different schools you've attended, or the range of cultures and communities you've been exposed to. These experiences can demonstrate your ability to navigate change and work effectively in a variety of environments.


Tip #2: Emphasise leadership skills

Military culture places a strong emphasis on leadership, discipline, and teamwork. As a Defence kid, you may have had opportunities to develop these skills in a variety of settings, such as through school clubs, sports teams, or community organisations.

When writing your resume, highlight any leadership roles you've held. Perhaps you were captain of a sports team, lead a volunteer project, or organising a school event. Use concrete examples to demonstrate your ability to motivate and inspire others, make tough decisions, and work collaboratively towards a common goal.


Tip #3: Showcase your resilience

Military life can be challenging, and resilience is a valuable trait in any profession. As a Defence kid, you may have faced a range of challenges, such as moving frequently, adapting to new schools and communities, or dealing with the deployment of a parent.

Highlight how you've overcome these challenges and developed resilience over time on your CV. This might include mentioning specific examples of how you've coped with adversity, such as through sports, hobbies, or personal projects. Use concrete examples to demonstrate your ability to bounce back from setbacks and maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity.


Tip #4: Tailor your CV to the job

Just like any other CV, it's important to tailor yours to the job you're applying for. Make sure to highlight skills and experiences that are relevant to the position you're seeking.

For example, if you're applying for a job in marketing, you might highlight your experience organising a school fundraiser or promoting a community event. If you're applying for a job in technology, you might emphasise your experience with coding or website design.


Tip #5: Include volunteer work

Military kids are often involved in volunteer work. This can be a great way to demonstrate your commitment to community service and highlight your skills and experience, so be sure to include any volunteer work you've done on your resume. This might include volunteering at a local animal shelter or participating in a fundraising event. Use concrete examples to demonstrate how your volunteer work has helped you develop important skills, such as leadership, teamwork, and communication.


Tip #6: Avoid military language

While it might be your native tongue having grown up in a Defence family, military language and acronyms can be confusing to those outside of the military community. It’s a good idea to avoid using military jargon on your CV, because if a hiring manager doesn’t understand your resume, you’re not likely to get an interview.


Tip #7: Address any employment gaps

As the son or daughter of a Veteran, it’s possible you’ve been in a caregiving role at some stage in your life. If this caregiving has resulted in gaps in your employment history, identify those in your CV and highlight the skills you’ve gained during that period.

Caregivers often develop excellent communication skills as they navigate complex medical information and communicate with healthcare professionals. They may gain skills in organisation and time management as they balance caregiving responsibilities with other commitments. Additionally, caregivers may develop resilience and problem-solving skills as they navigate the challenges of caring for someone with a disability or chronic illness.

These transferable skills can be applied to a variety of industries and roles, demonstrating to potential employers the valuable experience gained during a career break.

Read more about how to address career breaks in your CV in this article from The Guardian.


Tip #8: Get feedback from others

Finally, don't be afraid to seek feedback on your CV from others, such as mentors, teachers, or family members. They may be able to provide valuable insights and suggestions on how to improve your CV and showcase your skills and experiences effectively. It’s a good idea to get feedback from someone outside the military community, to be sure that potentially confusing military terminology hasn’t crept into your resume.

As a military kid, you have a unique set of skills and experiences that can be valuable in the job market. By highlighting your mobility, leadership skills, resilience, education, volunteer work, and avoiding using military language, you can craft a strong CV that showcases your strengths and stands out to potential employers.

Remember to tailor your CV to the job you're applying for, use concrete examples to demonstrate your skills and experiences, and seek feedback from others to improve your CV. With these tips in mind, you can present yourself as a strong candidate for any job or career path you choose.


The RSL Veterans’ Employment Program can help

Need a hand writing a resume, applying for jobs, or finding your passion and purpose? The RSL Veterans’ Employment Program is free for the children of serving and former ADF members. Reach out to us today!