This is a topic I've been fretting about for a couple of years now. I served in the USAF as an Aerospace Ground Equipment mechanic for 13 years and can no longer do my job due to blowing out both of my knees. I'm now studying to become an IT professional, but I don't have a clue of how to translate (or import) my years of mechanical/military experience over to the IT side of the house. This transition of trade skills is like comparing apples to oranges for me.

If anyone is interested I could do a copy/paste of my current resume that concentrates on my mechanical/supervisory skills. And no, I haven't gotten any IT certifications yet, I messed up in planning my education due to CompTIA creating a new lifecycle standard in order to keep certs current so I'm back to the beginning of studying A+.

  • 1
    Hey cheawick, and welcome to The Workplace! As-is, your question is a bit broad since there are many different mechanical/military skills and many different IT positions you may be looking to transition in to. If you could specify what exactly you're looking for with an edit, you will likely get better answers (e.g. "When applying for a career in a different field, is it appropriate to highlight general work-related skills learned through previous experience over specialist knowledge from the field?"). Thanks in advance!
    – jmac
    Mar 26, 2014 at 6:38
  • Mentioning your frequent use of supervisory skills within a technical discipline could probably help you get a supervisory (read: manager) position without having too much in-depth knowledge
    – Amber
    Mar 27, 2014 at 14:56
  • When a site only demands answers and not discussion it's very hard for me to ask the unknown. And when I find something of a solution I get: <Put on hold as unclear what you're asking by jmac, CMW, RhysW, Chad, Michael Grubey 16 hours ago Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit your question or leave a comment.>
    – cheawick
    Mar 31, 2014 at 5:39
  • Do all of you not see the answer I found acceptable and useful just below your declaration of my "horrid question?" Answered by Shantnu Tiwari.
    – cheawick
    Apr 1, 2014 at 4:30

4 Answers 4


You are underestimating your time in the Air Force. You probably learnt a lot of skills that are directly relevant to engineering: Solving technical problems caused by everything from bad hardware to bad configuration. You learned how to work under extreme pressure and still deliver good results (I assume you did, or else the planes would have fallen!) You learned how to deal with politics, and still do your job (this is based purely on reading books my ex-servicemen, but it seems the armed forces are not immune to politics).

Now you don't experience writing software, but that shouldn't matter. The biggest problem with CVs is the "Meh" effect. The recruiter looks at your CV and goes "Meh." Most CVs look alike, and there is nothing to separate them.

Now if a recruiter sees your CV, with your 13 years experience, and next to it is some pimply kid who worked at McD, who do you think will be called in for an interview?

You still need to have good technical knowledge to get the job, so make sure you are strong there too.

As to what to write: Write about technical challenges you solved. Something that showed how, when faced with external pressures, like broken equipment, politics and time pressures, new technology, you still managed to complete a project on time. Give examples, so the interviewer has something to talk about.

If you want more specific advice, feel free to contact me privately.

  • Thank you for the guidance as I can see now that I am way off at writing a resume in general. Your advice shows a much more active position than what I was taught.
    – cheawick
    Mar 27, 2014 at 2:31
  • 3
    @cheawick You are welcome. I have seen ex-armed forces people in the IT industry, and once they get a foot in, they usually rise fast. That's because, unlike us lazy civvies, they know how to work hard and get things done, no matter how crap the environment. Mar 27, 2014 at 9:05
  • Thats for the info that ex-military tend to rise fast in the IT industry. That take a little of the worry about all the time I'm spending preparing for these certification exams and not working.
    – cheawick
    Mar 28, 2014 at 2:04

I've seen ex-military resumes fairly often (for software-industry roles). The successful candidates were able, through the resume and cover letter, to paint a picture of how skills transfer. Were you ever in a team-leadership position? Did you have to resolve ambiguous or inconsistent requirements? Were there customer-service aspects to the job? Did you solve challenging problems that you couldn't just look up in a manual (did you have to debug)? Did you go above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done?

Review the qualifications for the job you want, and try to make connections to the experience you have. And, of course, also list the training and projects you're now doing in the new field.


You can mention it briefly and concisely but it must not take a big part of your resume, that role should be taken up by what you'll be learning from IT school, and possibly your internship.

I highly suggest doing side projects too, like contributing to open source projects so you can fill up your resume nicely, but that's all in good time.

Prospective employers may bring it up if their doing an interview, you can talk about your previous job there to your heart's content, but for the resume make it short enough to pique their interest, but make sure it won't overshadow what relevant skillset/experiences you'll learn from your IT education.

Relevant question: Should I put work not related to my profile on my resume?


In addition to what has already been mentioned, try to include some numerical quantification to support your experiences. Seeing numbers in dollar or percentage terms helps to combat the "meh" effect referred to when an employer isn't particularly interested in your resume.

  • 1
    Yes, I use the entire value of the equipment fleet, which is about $17 Million, and have stated some cost savings by questioning previous mechanic parts ordering... Three supervisors were convinced that a particular unit was leaking stored nitrogen gas due to a preferential distribution three way valve, so they kept ordering this $750 part several times thinking the valve was defective. I was able to prove to them that the defective part was not that one but a simple $10 check valve.
    – cheawick
    Mar 29, 2014 at 5:44

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .