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How to articulate your ADF skills and experience, and write your CV

A tailored and well written CV is the key to success!

Your CV is generally the first thing a recruiter or hiring manager will use to evaluate you (against the role), therefore it’s highly important that you present your ‘best self’ and articulate your skills and experience in a clear, concise and enticing way.

Developing your CV

A CV should outline your experience, education and any relevant skills you have for a particular job. It is an opportunity to showcase what you have done and highlight how you have done it well. A short, sharp CV which is relevant to a specific job is key to success.

It can often be difficult to convey your ADF experience and skill so that it is easily understood by people in the civilian sector. It is important that you avoid using any military terms or jargon and make your CV as easy as possible for an interviewer to understand.

The WPA Program has a template you can use to help build your CV. Ideally your CV should serve as a “mission brief” for a potential employer to show them you have the experience, education, attitude and aptitude to have a positive impact in their organisation.

In your CV, you should list the following under each of your previous jobs:

  • Job title

  • Years of experience in the role

  • What you specifically did

  • What were your responsibilities (people management / budgets / systems etc.)

  • What you achieved, highlight your best achievements

  • What technologies / systems / processes / standards you have used etc.

  • What skills you learned

  • Link the job tasks and transferable skills to the current role you are applying for

Be as tangible as possible, utilising examples from your career without compromising the security or confidentiality of your previous tasks. Focus on activities, outcomes, and especially what was your role and what you specifically did.

An example of a position you could include:

Program Manager - Department of Defence 2017–2019

  • In charge of SEA-1000 procurement.

  • Led a team of five Project Managers to deliver technical solutions to functional areas.

  • Hired, trained and supervised a team of five junior Project Managers.

  • Cut procurement costs by 15% in 20 months by renegotiating vendor supply agreements resulting in a saving of $900,000 for the department.

  • Reviewed project goals and objectives with executive leaders to ensure milestones were achieved.

The following list of skills are highly desirable and should be reflected in your CV ideally in an example which reflects how you have utilised it:

  • Technical Skills (what you know, what you have used, what you can do, what you have done)

  • Any education, certifications or qualification you possess or that you are currently studying

  • Problem Solving

  • Critical Thinking

  • Interpersonal Skills

  • Communication

  • Leadership

  • Collaboration

  • Self-Motivated

  • Dependability

  • Customer Service

  • Detail Oriented

  • Organisational Skills

Sharing your CV

Once you have developed your CV, it is important for you to share it with the WPA team so that we can review it. As your CV contains your personal information, we will only disseminate it after obtaining your explicit consent.

Please be selective with who you share your CV with, and ensure that anyone you give a copy to, obtains your explicit consent prior to sharing it with anyone else. This will also help prevent multiple parties representing your details to the same employer which will negatively impact your application and working with the company as well as damage your reputation.

If you are going to share your CV with any other party, ensure that you explicitly tell/write

to them “I expect you to obtain my explicit consent in writing before my CV and details are represented to any company”.

Keep a record of any organisations that have either represented you or have collected your CV and personal information to avoid double ups.

Criteria Responses

Writing criteria responses in the 3rd person

We use a standardised criteria response when submitting our personnel for prospective job applications. This ensures consistency and makes it easier for the procurement or hiring manager to understand your experience and qualifications related to a specific part of the role and how it relates to the potential employer. Writing in the third person can be challenging as it is different to the traditional style of writing which uses first person language like “I, me, my, mine” to link yourself to your past experience. Writing in the third person is like writing your employment history from an observers or bird’s eye point of view.

Some examples of third-person responses include:

“David is a driven and motivated individual that sets a high standard for himself. This can be seen with his role as a Project Manager on the SEA1000 Program where he successfully met key milestones despite the COVID-19 pandemic despite substantial funding and technological disruption.”

“Ryan has worked as an Information Communications Systems Operator for over 15 years, giving him extensive experience across a range of ICT platforms and programs including {Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services etc…}. In this role, Ryan has been instrumental in developing network architecture and troubleshooting technical difficulties including Level 3 Service Desk Analyst incidents.”

Clearly articulating your past experience, in the third person, is essential as the past indicates the future and is used by employers as a predictor of your future performance.

Criteria Responses Checklist:

  • Have you avoided using the following words:

  • I

  • Me

  • Mine

  • My

  • Is the spelling and grammar correct?

  • Are the examples you have provided relevant to the skills, qualities and attributes needed for the job?

  • Do your responses highlight what you can bring to the role and what makes you better than other candidates?

Below is an example of what a common criteria response template looks like.

Break down the criterion point that you have been asked to respond to and answer each part of the question. It is a good idea to rewrite the question in your response.

Criteria, Weighting & Word Limit

How does the candidate demonstrate this skill?

Example Question

Determine security requirements by evaluating business strategies and leading threat risk assessment activities; research information security standards; conduct system security and vulnerability analyses and risk assessments.

Weighting: 20%

Word Limit: 500


Example Response

Throughout [FIRST NAME’S] career as a [YOUR PREVIOUS ROLE], he/she has led a number of [CRITERION e.g. threat risk assessment activities] for government and corporate clients including [LIST CLIENTS IS APPROPIATE]. In conducting these [CRITERION] assessments, [NAME] has implemented [STANDARDS USED] to analyse vulnerabilities and advise relevant stakeholders on the best course of action. This has led to his clients adopting more efficient solutions, leading to savings of [INSERT KEY ACHIEVEMENTS] for clients such as [CV EXAMPLE].


Converting defence skills to commercial skills for criteria responses

As an ADF veteran, you have had access to world class training and honed your skills in a high pressure, physically and mentally demanding environment. This is something which gives you a big advantage in a civilian setting. What you need to do is capitalise on this experience and frame it in a way which highlights to potential employers that you are:

  • Adaptable when situations change

  • Agile when solving problems

  • Capable of leading or working in a team

  • Diligent at planning effectively

  • Effective at communicating clearly and concisely

  • Experienced working under pressure

  • Loyal, disciplined and detail orientated

ADF General Member

  • Presented a mission brief to senior commanders and leading commercial contractors as part of my role in the SEA1000 program, demonstrating effective written and verbal communication.

  • Responsible for ensuring staff had a high level of compliance with organizational policies, operating procedures and instructions within Defence’s heavily regulated environment.

  • Demonstrated resilience under pressure while working in complex and hostile combat environments

ADF Non-Commissioned Officer

  • Maintained team cohesion during projects by conducting regular standup meetings to allow team members to express points of difficult or emerging challenges

  • Conducted team performance reviews and responsible for drafting and creating training requirements

  • Successful led a team of six operators by frequently ensuring KPI’s were being achieved.

  • Developed defence project plans which contained defined milestones, budgets and timelines resulting in successful mission outcomes

  • Conducted risk analysis, and developed mitigation strategies to ensure compliance with WHS requirements

  • Managed the professional development of team members by delivering training and assessments to enhance organizational capability

  • Ensured compliance with policies, procedures, government regulations and frameworks

ADF Commissioned Officer

  • Supported [COMPANY/CORE] senior leadership members with the implementation of strategic and tactical objectives

  • Developed a cross-department training plan which resulted in an increase in [COMPANY] efficiency and effectiveness

  • Project managed the implementation of key organisational programs including Operation [NAME]

  • Provided advice to senior managers to assist in the achievement of workplace KPI’s, including the development of a new training checklist

  • Managed the performance of staff members by conducting regular stand up meetings and monthly performance reviews


Need help developing your CV or showcasing your skills? Contact us to learn more:

Visit the WorkPath Australia Employment Program website to learn more about transitioning into your post-service career.​

Vertical Scope Group are proud to have partnered with Transformed, Australia’s leading Registered Training Organisation to help veterans seamlessly transition from the military. Transformed specialise in delivering nationally recognised, world-class training and offer veterans tailored study plans so that they can professionally upskill while still in uniform.
To learn more about how they can help you plan your civilian career please visit their website:

Previous articles in this series

Missed an earlier article? You can catch up on our series below...

Part 1 - Veteran Transition - Planning your Transition
Part 2 - How do I transition from the ADF? Planning your personal life!
Part 3 - What skills will matter going into 2022 for employment and what will the employment landscape look like?
Part 4 - How to prepare for civilian employment
Part 5 - Selecting the right RTO and avoiding buyer's remorse
Part 6 - Types of employment and questions to consider for veterans
Part 7 - How to develop your personal profile and build your brand
Part 8 - 5 tips for managing online study during a posting transition