Adapted from: Deployment to Employment: A Guide for Military Veterans Transitioning to Civilian Employment. Faithful Life Publishers, 2013.
One of the biggest complaints from employers about transitioning military job-seekers is that there is too much military terminology and jargon on the resumes — making it that much harder to evaluate.
The good news is that aspects of the corporate world are actually quite similar to the military. But when you use a different set of vocabulary, you end up making your background seem alien.
For example, when you use verbs like “command” and “order” in your resume to describe your job function, the hiring manager reviewing it might envision a dictatorial drill sergeant. You’ll give the impression that the people you managed obeyed you only because you were their superior — not someone they truly respected as a leader.
Instead, use action verbs that demonstrate your ability to work and communicate with people and their diverse perspectives.
Take a look at the chart below for ways to translate your “military speak” for civilian employers.
|Military Terms||Civilian Terms|
|colonel, lieutenant colonel, major general, lieutenant general, general, division commander||senior manager, member of executive management|
|command, order||lead, champion, train, direct, implement, support|
|platoon leader, platoon sergeant, company commander, directorate||department head, department manager|
|programs (when used as a stream of money, e.g., program for maintenance, buying new vehicles, helicopters)||resources, budget|
|section chief||team leader|
|superior, commanding officer, commander||supervisor, manager|
From the very beginning of the process, translate as much of your experience as possible into civilian language. This strategy applies to all your communication with potential employers, including your resume, e-mails, conversations, and of course, job interviews.
Check out all the Job Transitioning for Vets & Former Military.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
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