For thousands of men and women who have spent years serving their country in the armed forces, they often struggle with transitioning from the military into private and corporate enterprise. In continuing the spirit of Veterans Day, here are some guidelines for helping these individuals making this switch to avoid common job search mistakes.
1. Know when to play up your military experience and when to adapt it.
Many military veterans often try to hide their experiences in the armed forces from potential employers when, in fact, they should be highlighting it. Recruiters and employers usually are impressed with a military background and value the discipline and skill that usually accompanies such experience.
With that said, however, veterans want to be careful not to distribute a resume written in “military speak.” Most employers do not understand the technical jargon and vague titles that are typical with a military background. No matter where a job seeker comes from, if an employer cannot understand his or her resume, then he or she is going to move on to the next candidate, so it is important to be as clear as possible when detailing past experience. Veterans need to adapt from the military jargon to the corporate lingo.
If the titles and positions held in the military sound vague or unreflective of the actual job description, they should be changed to convey expertise better. Overuse of acronyms and abbreviations should be avoided. Qualitative results need to be highlighted.
2. Focus on the relevant facts.
Another trap veterans can easily fall into is including extensive descriptions of all the past trainings an individual has accumulated. The military provides training in abundance, but not all of it is relevant to the position. So when applying for a job, stick only to those experiences that support the specific job being applied for. Everything else is extra and distracts away from what the employer needs in the perfect candidate.
3. Keep your focus narrow and your target clear.
Often when veterans leave military service, they want to keep their options open and utilize all those skills they earned. The problem, however, is that their job search becomes too broad and unfocused.
When preparing for a job search, a great place to start is by considering the industries and companies that actively recruit ex-military members, such as defense contractors or nonprofits that support the Armed Forces. This step will help narrow the field and give some flexibility in how military experience is presented. Another good tip is to look for companies that value individuals with special security clearance. Many military members have already gone through this process, which can make them attractive to potential employers.
However, equally as important as identifying those companies that look for ex-military members is recognizing the type of resume the organization is seeking. Different companies look for different types of “resumes.” For example, a defense contractor may be looking for a federal resume, which is much different than a corporate resume. So veterans need to know the type of document these military-friendly companies are looking for and that should adjust their resumes accordingly.
So who am I anyway? Why do I think my advice is so valuable?
My name is Stephen Van Vreede. My company is called No Stone Unturned, and I have spent 15 years on both sides of the corporate hiring experience.
The short story is that I have an MBA in Marketing from Villanova University and a dual B.S. degree in Finance & Logistics from the University of Maryland. I am a certified professional résumé writer (CPRW) and a member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC). I am also an Academy-Certified Resume Writer (ACRW) through the Resume Writing Academy. As I mentioned, I paid my dues in the corporate world eventually running a large-scale call center for a major truck rental company, and I have spent the past 7 years with No Stone Unturned, assisting job seekers in achieving their goals.
In February 2009, I launched a new group job hunting networking site: NoddlePlace.com. It is absolutely FREE to join, and you have access to everything on the site. Come check it out at NoddlePlace. You can also follow me on Twitter.