There are many mistakes veterans make when it comes to creating a resume shortly after getting out; maybe it doesn’t look flashy enough, there is too much content, or maybe too little content. In my experience, the biggest mistake is what I call the “Rambo Resume”. This is when service members, specifically combat arms/special operations veterans, begin spewing on paper how bad ass they are. We get it, you were a SEAL with “Two long-term JCETs to PACOM conducting FID operations alongside the host nation in support of OEF-P, JSOC, and DOD mission parameters and being awarded a CAR and BSM for my actions while assigned to SDV-1 as the S3 and LNO to the Philippine Army.”

Can you imagine a civilian hiring manager reading this on a resume? Me, as a corporate recruiter for a UnitedHealth Group subsidiary, if that resume showed up on my desk I would toss it for the sheer fact that the individual has no grasp on reality.

Here is an example of a resume submission by a client who had the sense to know that his resume needed a drastic overhaul. Here is what he was sending to civilian companies before thankfully making the right call and reaching out to me:

US Army, Ranger Airborne Infantryman, 3rd Ranger Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment, SOCOM U.S. Special Operations Command, JSOC Joint Special Operations Command

 75th Ranger Regiment maintains 3rd Battalion at a high level of readiness, my unit could deploy anywhere in the world with 18 hours notice. Because of the importance SOCOM places on the 75th Ranger Regiment I had to possess a number of capabilities. These capabilities include:

  • Infiltrating and exfiltration by land, sea and air
  • Conducting Direct Action Operations
  • Conducting Raids
  • Recovery of personnel, special equipment and intelligence
  • Conducting conventional or special light- infantry operations
  • Being a member of a LRSUs Long Range Surveillance Unit
  • Being a member of  a CSAR team Combat Search and Rescue
  • RFR Ranger First Responder course a combat lifesaver course tailored to combat zone situations  Ranger specific mission
  • Army EMT course Emergency medical technicians
  • Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape  (SERE) Training
  • Special Operations courses and schools- Combat training , Mountaineering, Land Navigation, Survival training and Survival outdoor skills
  • First Aid and CPR certified and qualified
  • Ranger Regimental Master Breaching course 
  • Military vehicle licenses M1084,M1083,M1078A1,M1097,M1097A1,M1113,M1126,M1130,M1133
  • Antiterrorism Level 1 Training course
  • DoD Information Assurance Awareness course
  • Combating Trafficking course

This is definitely a Rambo Resume, but far from the worst that I have seen. Ironically, most of the serious offenders are infantrymen in the conventional Army, and especially 03-series guys from the Corps. I hope everybody is understanding the concept!

Frankly nobody cares that you shot expert on the SR-21, or that you are a qualified rope-master for 47s and 60s, or that you have an ARCOM with “V” for “engaging numerous hostiles in the Kunar area of operations.” You just sent your resume to the human resources department at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals for a Sales Representative position. They will think you are a crazed war veteran (not even kidding).

Keep all of the Rambo stuff out unless you are applying for OGA or a Special Agent posting somewhere. And even then don’t go overboard! If you have other professional work experience keep your military experience on your resume short and simple. Here is an example of exactly that:


U.S. Army, 3rd Ranger Bn, 75th Ranger Regiment                                                      April 2001 – January 2010

Army Ranger – Columbus, GA


– Served as a vital team member in the Army’s premier direct action special operations unit in multiple roles including sniper team leader, squad leader, and platoon sergeant.

– Numerous awards and achievements to include the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Ranger tab, the Bronze Star Medal, three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, and three Army Good Conduct Medal for exemplary service throughout four combat deployments to Iraq and three to Afghanistan.

– Honorably Discharged.

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This article originally appeared on Transition Hero, a site that covers Veterans benefits and transition issues. For information about career transition and more please visit the site here.