By Randy Wooden
Most job hunters face challenges, particularly when looking to change industries or job functions. Even though the unemployment rate for veterans is below that of the general population, veterans may face different challenges; let’s explore three and some tips for dealing with them.
1. The written word, particularly resumes. All industries have unique jargon, and the military is no different with its job titles, acronyms, and phrasing. Your task is to de-militarize your resume’s wording by using the corporate world’s equivalent terminology. For example, personnel could translate into associates or human resources. Mission could translate to project. Company/squadron/platoon could translate into department, division, or perhaps organization. The website www.military.com is one of many resources that help translat military-speak into corporate-speak. Try having your resume reviewed by a career coach or civilian hiring official for their feedback.
2. Networking. Most of us, veterans included, tend to spend time with our co-workers and family rather than establishing and maintaining a broad professional network. Try attending veterans and professional events beyond hiring fairs. Check LinkedIn or a Google search for veterans groups that focus on advancing careers. You’ll find you have company wrestling with a career transition. You’ll pick up pointers on how to engage in the civilian labor market while establishing relationships with others who’ve already made the leap and are eager to help others do the same. Get out, and get involved.
3. The interview. Just as you’ve tried to replace military-speak with corporate language on your resume, you’ll need to do the same during your interview. Getting the words right is only part of the challenge
Boot camp works to remove a person’s individuality: “I” becomes “we.” In interviews, you’ll need to cite accomplishments, ideally your accomplishments and not necessarily those of your team. Now is the time to toot your own horn.
Ask people to do practice interviews so you can practice using civilian rather than military-speak. Your service is great; now it is time to convey how you did it in terminology your potential employer can understand.
Remember to smile and talk with your hands and arms open. You’re bringing lots of technical skills as well as training in a myriad of interpersonal scenarios. You have transferable hard and soft skills that include things like problem solving, negotiating, dependability, critical thinking and effective team work.
Many employers are wisely eager to hire vets. Do your part: show them how your past experiences mesh well in their corporate world.