There are literally thousands of resources available for transitioning vets. And it’s a good thing – thousands of service members are entering the job market as the military draws down overseas operations and tightens its belt thanks to sequestration. The problem is that many veterans entering the job market today are doing so with difficult to translate skills. A military MOS to civilian transition can be difficult. A military career in the infantry, field artillery, armor or S-3 may not have a direct civilian equivalent. And while GI Bill benefits are there to help bridge the skills gap, college isn’t for everyone. If you’re headed straight from active-duty with Uncle Sam to the job market, how do you do it?
1. Focus on skills, not titles.
Don’t get caught up writing a resume or searching for a position that’s a direct parallel to your military work – it probably doesn’t exist. And don’t label your resume ‘Transitioning EOD Specialist looking for job.’ Think about the skills you acquired during your military service. If you have trouble generating skills, think more broadly – don’t focus on specific tasks, but overall accomplishments. Did you complete more than seventy five missions with no incidents while following strict administrative procedures? It sounds like you have a great track record in safety that would be very important to most employers.
2. Write the right resume.
Amy Schofield, professional branding consultant and resume writer offers these tips:
“In order to craft a resume for a hard-to-translate position, such as an EOD Specialist, you first want to choose the type of resume format that will make you stand out — generally, a hybrid resume (a mix of a chronological and a functional resume) is best for hard-to-translate positions because you can place emphasis on areas that translate to your new field,” said Schofield. “You also want to focus on all of the skills that you can transfer to the type of position you are currently seeking and highlight them accordingly. For example, an EOD Specialist applying to an Electrician position will want to focus on technical skills, certifications, and accomplishments, while an EOD Specialist applying to a Safety Administrator will want to highlight proper identification and oversight skills and accomplishments. The key is to tailor your resume(s) to each new field you are exploring while highlighting all relevant work history, skills, and education.”
3. Be ready to bridge the gap.
You may not have a skills gap in the journey to your ideal field, but you may have an experience gap. Be willing to bridge the space between your military skills and your new career. As Schofield notes, a difficult-to-translate military career will likely not be well encapsulated in a traditional chronological resume. When in doubt, lead with relevant skills and experiences rather than making your resume a narrative of your previous positions and assignments. Keep in mind that a recruiter is not likely to have a military background. So you’ll need to spell out how your military experiences have prepared you for a civilian position.
4. Get help.
Whether it’s professional resume writing assistance or just a helpful friend or military transition counselor – get help. You don’t want to do it alone. It’s a good idea to verbalize your previous assignments and experience to someone while they review your resume and positions you’re interested in applying to. They may notice things you’ve left off of your resume that would be important to include. An an extra set of eyes is never a bad idea.