Showcase Your Transferrable Skills
Jonathan Harold, U.S. Navy veteran, encourages veterans searching for civilian jobs to think beyond their main line of work. Harold got his first post-military job with a company that prepared food for airlines to serve to passengers. “I made sure the food preparation area was sanitary,” he said. “With my background in quality control, I was always looking for ways to make every process easier and more efficient. I learned that the skills you acquire in the military stay with you. Even if your job is completely different, you still have them.”
Recognize and Explain Diverse Roles
He noted that although veterans are usually identified first by rank, they also have a specialty, MOS, or rating. “If you were a missile technician, your main goal was to ensure that your command’s missile systems were up to par and that you were trained to operate them. But you might also have been detailed to other units. You could have been trained in firefighting, or worked in supply, food service, or construction as well,” he said.
Next, veterans should consider how to explain the meaning of your rank, according to Harold. “A missile technician who is a private has different duties than those of a staff sergeant. Remember, most civilians do not know that there are varying responsibilities within a given military occupation. As you write your resume, it is your responsibility to make civilians understand,” he said.
Harold used the O-NET Resource Center (www.onetcenter.org) in his own civilian job search. “I wanted to go into human resources after leaving the military, though I never had much experience in that field. When I looked on O-NET, I found that HR duties include on boarding, writing evaluations, and training. I had military experience in these areas, and I wrote my resume to reflect that,” he said.
If you are looking for a position in management or as a supervisor, Harold suggests changing the job title or adding parentheses next to your job title and write in terms that are more recognizable to civilians. “For instance, if I supervised junior personnel as a missile technician, I would write missile technician and then (supervisor),” he noted.
Later in his work as a career counselor, Harold drew on his experiences as a sonar technician. “I collected data and analyzed it, just as I did in the Navy,” he said. “Except this time, it was about people. I used data to make sense of a problem and then fix it.” He used the same technique later within his own department when developing programs. “I took a closer look at what our unemployed population needed,” he said. “Then I analyzed what kinds of services we already had in place and what we did not – and from there, I created programs or services that filled those gaps.”