by Nancy J. Miller
As veterans you chose to serve your country you excelled in your service and now you are ready to meet a civilian world that does not have a frame of reference for the work you did. You’ll need to use civilian language to tell employers about your amazing experience. Even veterans and those who understand military rank would not know your personal accomplishments and the skills you developed in the work you performed. Now is the time to learn to translate your military language update your job search skills create a powerful resume set goals and make a plan.
The military community offers structure employment and support to its personnel. Families are accustomed to arriving at a new town with the support of the military community that is already there. You or your family may feel lost and alone seeking support for your new civilian life. Veterans and their families can seek professional support from the military when available and from the civilian community.
Working with a career professional through your transition to civilian life by sharing your feelings and experience with your life changes will help with planning information support and accountability. When a military career professional is available he or she can help with understanding the process of transitioning out of the military and share resources available to you and your family. Also take advantage of the professional skills of a civilian career counselor or coach who knows the language of the current work world. A civilian professional can be especially helpful for those seeking employment outside of the military.
The following five steps will help you work and thrive after military service with the assistance of a career resources and/or a career professional.
1. Translate your military language.
Translate your military language to civilian language to show your value to nonmilitary employers. Career professionals can help a veteran explain what he or she did in his or her military job and translate the skills and experience to civilian language. [See also our article Translate Your Military Skills into Civilian Language in 6 Easy Steps.]
For example a manager for Home Depot who wants to hire a veteran but doesn’t understand the military language on the resumes he receives says “My approach to everything (veterans) put on the resume would be ‘How would I explain this to someone who has never been in the military? … Because the person reading it probably hasn’t.” (Read more.)
2. Find purpose outside the military that fits your values.
The military offers structure culture and values for the serviceperson. Once an individual has transitioned out of the military he or she needs to evaluate life values purpose and family concerns. While the military values family the family is structured around the purposes and needs of the individual in service to the country. It is time now to determine not only what you want but also what your family wants and needs during your transition and job search.
3. Update job-search skills.
Veterans are often not familiar with the current civilian job market. Depending on their age and years of service they may have never needed to write thank-letters make follow-up contacts and rigorously prepare for job-hunting. As a veteran you will need to prioritize your skills to fit the work you want to do obtain more training if needed and broaden/update your understanding of today’s job-search strategies. [See also our article How to Successfully Transition From Military to Civilian.]
4. Develop a powerful resume.
Translate your experience to civilian language unless applying for a civilian job with the military. Learn keywords recognized by human or digital resume scanners. Show relevant skills training and accomplishments displaying the highest level of skills first on your resume. Seek out the assistance of a career professional to discuss the many options for developing a profile using social media digital and print resumes and most importantly networking. [See also our article Crafting Killer Veteran Resumes for Civilian Employment.]
5. Set goals and make a plan.
New veterans face difficult challenges. (Read more.)
Some civilian jobs in the military may fit the skills and experience of a transitioning veteran who may be more comfortable staying in the military community but many opportunities also are available in the government and private enterprise. After you determine what you want to do next in your career you will want to set short and long-term goals and make a plan to meet those goals.
The military offers amazing challenges experience and training. Now it’s time to take up the challenge of civilian life. Be prepared to work hard on your transition to create success. The military made the big plans for you and now you have the opportunity to make plans for yourself and discuss goals and plans with your family. (Read more.)
Critical Career Resources for Military Transition
- GI Jobs site lists 20 jobs and how to translate military work into civilian language.
- Military to civilian transition resource Website
- Career Onestop: Veterans Reemployment
- Military to civilian occupation translator
- Fromer military job search database
Maximize your use of the many no-cost veteran and career resources — including career consulting to resume-writing to job placements. These resources are there to help empower you to success in your transition from military service to civilian worker.
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.
This article is part of Job Action Day 2013.
Nancy J. Miller M.S. is a Personal/Career Coach and author of the book Fire Up Your Profile for Lifework Success. Through coaching classes and workshops Nancy inspires entrepreneurs career changers and writers to discover innovative ways to find meaningful work in harmony with their values lifestyle and abilities. Visit Nancy’s Website and connect with her on Linkedin. She can be reached at clwd(at)tealpublishing.com.
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