Transitioning from one type of job to another is not easy. It’s important to understand how to articulate what you have to offer to a new employer, even if your past work is not exactly the same as what they’d expect for an applicant. When your past experiences do not identically match the employer’s requirements, it’s tricky to show how and why you are qualified for the job.
This is particularly true for veterans. Most employers are not familiar with your military service, positions, jargon, or acronyms, so it can be even more challenging for veterans to make a strong case. What can job-seeking veterans do to help transition into civilian positions?
Identify your skills. Evaluate your military service. What did you do on a daily basis?
Note your accomplishments. Do not underestimate the value of awards and accolades you received, but do translate them into terms non-military personnel will understand.
Focus on what you enjoy doing. Don’t ignore your “soft skills,” or emotional intelligence.
Research potential opportunities. Once you have your lists, plug your skills (your keywords) into job-board search engines to see what types of positions come up.
Make a list of job titles and company names. Was there a particular industry that appeared repeatedly in your results? Continue to search online for more information about those fields or organizations.
Inform your network. Once you know what you want to do, be specific when you describe your goals to your network. Don’t just say you are looking for “a job.”
Translate your experience. A common problem for job-seeking veterans is helping civilian, non-military hiring managers understand their work history.
Be sure to include specific, quantifiable points in your descriptions. For example, do not assume the reader will know how many troops you led based on your rank and title.
Tell your story. In an interview, be sure to describe your experiences in a way that a layperson will understand.