Posts

Translating Your Military Career to a Resume

Translating Your Military Career to a Resume

Contributed by: Julia Nex

 

Okay, you’ve made the decision that it’s time to transition from military service and start a new adventure in the “civilian world,” but how do you translate your military career into a language and skill set that is clear and understandable to prospective employers?

 

Whether you are exiting military service after your initial service obligation or retiring after 20+ years of dedicated service to the nation, translating your career skills to a resume takes a well thought out approach, but we’ll get you there with some great tips as you move forward.

#1: Gather All Your Personal Items

If you have an “I Love Me” book with all your awards, promotions, training certificates and evaluations, you are off to a great start! You will need these to reflect upon what you have accomplished during your career, as well as build a timeline of assignments and responsibilities to communicate your experiences.

#2: Translate Personal Evaluations and Assignments

Review your personnel records and performance evaluations, as this will help you not only build a timeline but scope the duties you want to highlight on your resume. What was your job title? What level of command did you serve? How many personnel were you responsible for managing? Also, reflect upon your leadership experiences to highlight how you helped others achieve success through training, mentoring and counseling.

While “Squad Leader” or “Shift Leader” doesn’t easily translate into civilian employment, “supervised training and resources to employ a 10-12 person security force” does have application and understanding. There are great tools that can assist veterans with translating their military occupational specialty to civilian jobs. It’s more complicated than this, but you get the gist of it!

 

#3: Training, Certifications and Education

 

Today, many of the training courses have civilian equivalents or are actually accredited by professional organizations that are known to civilian employers already. For example, technical skills like communications technician, health care specialist, human resource and financial management, dental hygienist and vehicle mechanic translate into civilian career opportunities. If you have professional certifications, that is a bonus, and one you can highlight for your employer.

 

Civilian education is straightforward, so if you have a degree or certification from a university, college or professional trade school, it goes on your resume. Include the name and address, degree obtained, major or specific skill, date of completion and if you were recognized for academic performance (i.e., summa cum laude, national honor society, honor graduate, etc.). Employers like to know they are hiring quality people who excel academically.

#4: Honors and Personal Accomplishments

 

While military awards like the Congressional Medal of Honor, Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart are more recognizable, most American military medals, ribbons and badges don’t easily translate into the civilian sector. But that’s okay because many of your professional and personal recognition–i.e., distinguished honor, honor graduate or performer of the quarter/year–do have an application in business or other civilian sectors. If you and your team received an award from the military or professional association or won a competitive competition, you can highlight this accomplishment. It demonstrates you can be part of a high-performing team.

 

If you have been published, professionally or personally, highlight this fact as it demonstrates a willingness to advocate for your profession or contribute through writing and research.

 

Being humble is one thing and a great attribute of our military service members, but remember it ain’t bragging if it’s the truth!

 

#5: Keep It Simple, Use Plain Language

 

You are “institutionalized” by your military service from the moment you stepped onto the yellow footprints, and you’ll be challenged to communicate in simple language. A well thought out resume will represent you well and help prospective employers get to know you upfront. Keep it simple, direct and to the point!

 

As you write your resume, first, lose the acronyms immediately as they don’t always translate across civilian-military communities–let alone across military services. Then review your resume and the job you are applying for to ensure you use “keywords” to communicate you are a match for the job being advertised. And lastly, check and double-check your resume for grammar and spelling errors to present the best “written” persona possible.

 

#6: Personal Security Clearance

 

If you have a security clearance, highlight this fact so prospective employers know you are vetted for access to classified materials at the SECRET, TOP SECRET or have had a Counterintelligence Polygraph. These are important and highly marketable certifications, especially if you seek to work in commercial industry, government contracting or government services. Keep it current, which means it must have not exceeded its 10-year expiration past the last single scope background investigation or SSBI. Check with your local unit security manager to confirm the date in the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS).

#7: Personal Interests

It’s important to let people get to know you and possibly make a connection with your future employer. While you don’t have to go into details about your family, communicating your genuine interest in academic research, professional organizations, outdoor activities and collectibles can let an employer know you do more than just work. Make a connection, but be honest so you can hold a conversation if during an interview your personal interests come up in conversation.

 

#8: Security Classification Review…Just in Case

A reminder, and not for everyone, if you were assigned to a national intelligence agency (i.e., National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial Agency), you will want to highlight these assignments on your personal resume. Remember you have a lifetime obligation to not share classified information or specific details about these agencies. If you are unsure, it’s a good practice to submit for a pre-publication review and ensure you are safeguarding classified or sensitive information.

Lastly, once you have completed your resume and you have had others review it, you can use LinkedIn, USAJobs and other web-based forums to publish your resume and get the word out you are transitioning and ready for the next adventure in your life.

Best of luck and happy hunting as you go forward with your life! And, for a grateful nation and the American people, THANK YOU for your dedication and service to the nation!

Julia Nex is the Content Strategist at Medals of America. In her spare time, you can catch her cooking, embroidering, or watching Hell’s Kitchen.

Interview Do’s & Don’ts, and the Questions You Should/Should Not Answer

job

By Debbie Gregory.

If you’re searching for a veteran job after military service, you may be out of practice when it comes to the job interviewing process. Here are some important tips.

Do’s:

Prepare: Research the people interviewing you, the company, and the job itself. Know what does the company does, the requirements for the job, and how your experience matches those requirements.

Engage: Remember that you are, first and foremost, having a conversation. It’s nerve-wracking and highly formalized, but avoid stock responses. Preparation is a foundation, not a set-in-stone strategy.

Ask the right questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but make sure they are the right questions. For example:  Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare? Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications? What are the challenges of this position? What do you like most about working for this company?

Close on a positive: Towards the close of the interview, look the interviewer in the eye and say, “I can do this job, and do it well. I am the type of person who puts 100% effort and energy into my work. What are the next steps?

Do not flinch and wait for an answer. No one likes rejection and they want a candidate who will accept the offer and not reject it.  This might be the most important part of the interview.

Don’ts:

Be late: This rule is ironclad. No excuses, no exceptions. Showing up late shows disregard for your potential employer’s time, and insinuates your inability to plan.

Say negative things about your current or past employers or managers: No matter how grounded your complaints are, negative comments will be viewed as disrespectful. When faced with the challenge of talking about former employers, make sure you are prepared with a positive spin on your experiences.

Be Desperate: Never let on that you’re applying just because you need a job. It’s in the best interests of the employer to hire a passionate employee rather than someone who is simply filling a slot.

Show lapses in your professional veneer: The interview begins as soon as you receive notice that they want to interview you. Party pictures on social media? Not a great idea. As soon as you enter the building, make sure you treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Don’t let your professional veneer slip for a moment.

Talk too much: Don’t take too long to answer direct questions. It gives the impression that you can’t get to the point. An even though you’re nervous, try not to over-talk.

Ask the wrong questions: Examples of this would be: How much does the job pay? What are the benefits? What can you tell me about your company? (You should have already done your homework.) How long will it take to get a promotion? Are you flexible on the schedule? Can I work from home?

Give away too much information: Don’t weaken future earning potential by speaking too freely about current income. No matter the official salary range of the position you are interviewing for, your current earnings have an enormous effect on the size of the offer.

You already know your resume set you apart as a candidate of choice to be invited for an interview. Hone your interviewing skills to actually win job offers. Polishing your interviewing skills can mean the difference between getting the job and being a runner-up.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.