This guest post is brought to you by Aaron Walker. (If you’re interested in contributing a guest post, please see our guest posting guidelines.)
I’ll be honest: When I began the job search as I moved from the military to civilian life, I often felt like I was speaking a different language than the people who interviewed me. I’d detail my experience with military terminology and often drew blank looks from interviewers who had no idea what I was talking about, or how I could fit in at their company.
It left me feeling frustrated and, I’ll admit, and a little defeated. Add in a terrible economy, and I wasn’t sure I would ever find work in any field, whether it be food service or human resources translations.
Luckily, that turned out to be wrong. Eventually, I found a great position. These five tips can help you, too, make the often rocky transition from a military to civilian career.
Speak the Same Language
There are a lot of terms that we throw around in the military that are second nature to us, but civilians don’t understand them. Do a practice interview with a civilian friend and have them help you hone in on what words you’re using that might be confusing. Remember this during your real interview, and try to explain yourself in a different way. The less confused the interviewer is, the better chance you have of getting the job.
Be Your Own Cheerleader
In the military, we’re not used to putting ourselves first. We do things for the good of our unit. But in civilian life, it’s the opposite. If you don’t tell an interviewer how great you are at making donuts or crunching numbers, they’re not going to want to hire you. Don’t be afraid to brag about all the things you do well.
Many of us in the military tend to think that reaching out for help shows weakness. It’s not true. Sometimes a helping hand is just what you need to get on the right track, and it could be the difference between finding a job and heading back to the unemployment office. There are lots of great government-sponsored programs that help veterans find jobs. There are also local and regional programs that can help you get your foot through the door.
Have a Realistic Outlook
A study by Prudential Financial and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found that 80 percent of military job seekers are looking for “the right job” rather than just any job. That may be setting your up for a failure. If you have your sights set too high, you won’t see what’s right in front of you, which could be the perfect job if only you’d lower your standards a bit.
Revamp Your Resume
Military resumes tend to be too long for civilian employers’ tastes. It’s a great idea to give your military resume a pruning. Make sure to define any acronyms that are included in it, even something as basic as D.O.D. Though you assume everyone knows that’s “Department of Defense,” not everyone does, and rather than take the time to figure it out, they’ll just toss your résumé in the slush pile.
Aaron Walker is a former serviceman who now works in translation and freelance writing.
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