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The Military-to-Civilian Transition

While federal unemployment numbers continue to improve, one sector of workers is still struggling to find work.

One in nine veterans who served during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were jobless in 2013, according to a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Furthermore, an estimated 200,000 of the about 2.8 million Americans who have served in uniform since 9/11 are unemployed.

Veterans need help in conveying how their military record can translate into success in the civilian sector. Their skills may be highly specialized for the military, or they may find that when they get back home, their intended industry has become more technologically advanced than it was five years ago, and they are behind on the latest software and tools.

De-Militarize Your Resume

One way to make your transition into the civilian sector as seamless is possible is to de-militarize your resume. This process entails converting complicated military terms and jargon into easy-to-understand language.

If you’re applying for a job in manufacturing – the most popular sector for veterans – you don’t need to list the technical names and specifications of weapons you operated while in combat. The same goes for military software systems and policies. Many of these terms are long-winded acronyms that can confuse civilian recruiters and hiring managers.

Turn their attention away from what systems you worked on and place it on how you worked with them. Buzzwords such as logistics, supply chain management, inventory control and quality assurance are what employers are looking for when hiring their next manufacturing manager.

Your Transferable Skills

During your military career, you surely accrued key skills through the execution of a variety of critical tasks. Knowing how to translate them into civilian speak is a challenge in itself.

Did you lead a battalion of soldiers through a mission in austere conditions? Then your skills in leadership, decision-making and project management should be highlighted within your resume and cover letter.

Have you developed and deployed trainings across your unit? Then make sure your mentoring, coaching and public-speaking skills are drawn out for recruiters and hiring managers to see.

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