How to Turn Military Life Into Resume Bullets and Strengthen Your Brand

Military Transition

 

May is just around the corner, and it’s Military Appreciation Month. We celebrate our country’s military veterans and spouses, who have their own designated day of gratitude on May 12th. It’s no secret that transitioning from the military to the civilian or private sector world is challenging. Everything from job titles to the lingo are entirely different, and it’s a lot of work to position yourself for post-military jobs.

Similarly, as a military spouse, you face challenges finding any kind of employment whether you are searching while your service member is still active or after their transition. As a veteran or spouse, how can you make employers believe in you? Translate what you do every day into terms an employer understands. Focus on your leadership skills, enthusiasm, and the skills you possess.

Many aspects of your military life are unique and the soft skills you have are not easily taught. You’ve lived through difficult situations that prove you can perform above average in fast-paced, constantly changing circumstances. You’re not afraid to take on challenges and will do what it takes to get things done. It’s up to you to educate employers about the innate value you offer.

Resourceful and results-oriented

You’ve moved to a new location every 18 months to a few years. As a veteran, you work with a new team at every post. As a spouse, this has meant finding new stores and schools, and organizing a new home. You do what it takes to make things happen to meet your team or family’s needs.

Translation: You are imaginative and will find the answers you need to accomplish tasks and help a team achieve their goals. You can work with a diverse set of personalities.

Adaptable

As part of the military community, you thrive in a state of ambiguity. You may learn where you are moving only weeks before an actual move. And, you’ve moved a dozen or more times. You’ve raised children and/or handled emergencies alone in foreign countries.

Translation: These challenges have made you stronger as an individual and team contributor. You’re comfortable with uncertainty and change.

Dedicated

You are committed to what you take on, whether it’s volunteer or paid work. You support your colleagues and community through tough times.

Translation: As an employee, you are exceedingly loyal and will stay put for the long-term. When things get tough, you will stick it out because you will quickly find solutions to any and all problems that you face.

Self-motivated

The military provides leadership training second to none. You don’t need constant reminders to get your work done. As a spouse who sets up house in a new location, you do things out of necessity without prompting.

Translation: You are motivated to work hard and your productivity soars in all situations. You do what you need to do to complete work on time while exceeding expectations. You are proactive – someone who can’t sit still for long and wants to move things forward.

Contributor

Although the place you’re living is likely brand new to you, you refuse to sit at home. You find places to explore, people to meet, and activities to take on, whether it’s recreational, volunteer, or work.

Translation: Every team needs people who add this kind of value. When things are slow or you are faced with the unknown, you simply find new ways to contribute or new things to tackle. Who wouldn’t want that person on their team?

Whether you’re a veteran or spouse, you’ve had remarkable formal and informal training that translates well to any job. Your circumstances have made you a leader who is able to tackle all kinds of challenges. Bring these facets into your resume, cover letter, and interviews. Provide examples of what you can offer and how these immeasurable skills will benefit your future employer now and for years to come.

Marcelle Yeager helps people land jobs that get them to the next level of their career. Through her company Career Valet, she works with mid- to senior-level professionals on their branding strategy and job search materials to secure new roles. She co-founded a second business in 2015 called ServingTalent, where she finds jobs for talented military and Foreign Service spouses. Marcelle has spent over six years living and working abroad. She can be reached at myeager@careervalet.com.