Using Your Military Experience To Gain Civilian Employment Can Be Easy
I know firsthand how difficult it is just getting out of the military and trying to actually put your valuable skills and experience to good use. I knew through friends and family that being a veteran paid dividends in the employment world. My problem was I couldn’t figure out how to prove my value through my resume.
As you go out into the civilian world for the first time (some veterans this may be your second go-around at freedom!), you’ll quickly see that there are more jobs and opportunities out there than advertised. While still in service, you probably heard a lot from peer or friends who separated about how “bad” the job market is. Although thereThe truth is, as long as you keep your nose clean, there is ALWAYS a job opportunity right around the corner. Now don’t get me wrong, the pickings are still slim in some fields, but in general, those positions are usually a rung or two above entry level positions.
The most important trick to converting your military skills and experience to a civilian resume is paying attention to detail. No, I don’t mean this in a soft skill kind of way to add to your skills list (although you could). I’m talking about paying attention to what I call the “flash” words and phrases that employers often put in their job description. These include phrases like “Demonstrate attention to detail,” “Be comfortable working in a fast-paced environment,” “Ability to demonstrate excellent customer service.” These are phrases and words that you can easily connect your military experience to. The second part of paying attention to detail when converting your resume is paying attention to the little details of your past duties.
For example, I was an aircraft mechanic (crew chief) in the Air Force. My skills mostly involved using my hands and getting dirty. My first job when I separated was working as a Ramp Agent for American Airlines. Although I didn’t work on aircraft with tools or anything like I used to while serving, the position still required other commonly asked skills, such as being able to operate a forklift or heavy machinery. As an F-15 and MQ-9 crew chief, I regularly towed aircraft and operated other aircraft ground equipment. Needless to say, that bad boy was an easy one to put in my bullet points when I saw that the job required heavy machinery operation.
This particular job also required excellent customer service and experience in this field as well. Now this one was a tough one to tackle initially, but as I reflected further back on my experiences, I focused on the times I provided good service to someone. I started to remember the times I volunteered for squadron holiday cookouts and dinners and how I demonstrated customer service through preparing and serving customer’s plates (this was also a good one for my first restaurant industry job!).
It really is as simple as keying in on those little details. In the military, we’re required to do a lot more than what some of us initially thought we’d signed up for. However, that “gripe” is paid back tenfold in the civilian world (Remember the days of Entry Control Duty in basic training? Yea you’re now gold to contracted and private security services). Also note that the ability to sell yourself, albeit not coming naturally to many, is critical to your success carving your own path in the civilian world. Without further hesitation, here are three basic skills civilian employers seek when viewing a veteran’s resume.
1) Working In a Fast-paced Environment
This is one you’ll see in almost every job description you’ll see. In today’s day and age, the quickest way to go nowhere fast is to fail to move fast. This bodes well for veterans, as moving fast and with a sense of purpose was drilled into us from Day 1 of boot camp. Not to mention the vast majority of jobs in the military require moving fast in order to keep operations flowing. This is an excellent opportunity for you to give an example of a daily task you had to do with a sense of purpose.
2) Demonstrating Excellent Customer Service
You won’t find a job or business in the civilian job market where some form of customer service isn’t required. You worked with people and serving people in the military and you’ll be doing it a lot outside of it. Giving examples of duties where you demonstrated good customer service can be a tricky one, as this can be a really easy one or one that will have you thinking, depending on your job in the military. As I mentioned earlier, if you weren’t in a customer-oriented career field, focus on some of the miscellaneous tasks you performed or your volunteer service throughout the course of your military career. You’re bound to dig up some form of people-related duty you had to do (Kitchen Patrol Duty anyone?).
3) Taking Initiative (Being a Self-Starter)
Nobody likes to be babied. More importantly, however, is that nobody likes to play babysitter. Many civilian employers get a veteran’s resume and their eyes light up because they already know this person won’t have to have their hand held. They also know there likely won’t be a steep learning curve, as we were often thrust into “sink-or-swim” situations during our careers in the military, no matter what field you were in. For this reason, they know this is already half the battle and means they won’t have to spend time looking over your shoulders when they could be productive elsewhere.
You can be an E6 out after six years or you can be an E4 and done after four. No matter what you did or how long you served, the military provided plenty of opportunities to step up, take initiative, and be a leader. If you can’t think of not one instance or duty where you had to take initiative and get the ball rolling for a daily or frequent task, you may have bigger issues to worry about!
Transitioning Into A Civilian Job From The Military Is Easier Than You Think
The key to getting those employers to blow up your email and phone is to remember the key thing I mentioned before I went into the list: Attention to detail. Pay attention to the words and phrases in the description. Actively focus on what they’re looking for in you. Then think of times during your decorated service where you demonstrated what’s in that particular description. From there, use those experiences and tie them into what your targeted position duties. Remember that in today’s day in age, employers often have working in a fast-paced environment, demonstrating excellent customer services, and taking initiative on top of their priority list when looking for potential new hires. It’s up to you to color your skills and experience with the words you use on your resume!
For more articles with resources and information related to finding a job while transitioning from military to a civilian, visit my site here at anthonyjrichard.com. I update my posts weekly! For information regarding scheduling Health History Consultations feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment!
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