Lose the Jargon, Land the Interview: Part 2

Crossing over from application to interview is job #1 for your resume. How you explain your responsibilities can make or break your chances of moving forward.

For military veterans, it can be particularly tricky. Let’s say you are a 91G E-5 in the Army – fire control repairer. You ensured laser and thermal imaging equipment was maintained and completed first-level repairs on the battlefield. As a sergeant, you served in a team leader role and led a team of five maintenance personnel. The role developed strong electronic and mechanical maintenance skills, including troubleshooting, schematics, and understanding wire diagramming.

###Would your mother understand?###

Ask yourself: What do you do every day? Break it down. As you go, if you have to ask yourself, "What does that mean?" then you must break it down further.

Consider including answers to these questions:

• How many people do you lead?

• What size budget do you manage?

• What type of equipment or inventory do you manage, and what is its value?

• How do you help resolve conflict?

• How do you plan and execute projects? Include tools you’ve used here: Microsoft Project? Other software systems?

• How do you deal with setbacks?

###Civilianize terminology###

It's important to convert military jargon into business language. For example, instead of "tank crewmember," heavy equipment operator paints a better picture.
Consider these alternative descriptions:

• combat = hazardous conditions

• company = company, department or section

• military personnel office = human resources

• mission = task/function/objective

• military occupation specialty/classification = career specialty

• squad/platoon = team or section

• reconnaissance = data collection and analysis

• service members = employees

• Senior NCO = First-Line Supervisor

• Infantry = Security Force

• First Sergeant = Personnel Manager

• Squad Leader = Team Leader

• Supply Sergeant = Supply Manager or Logistics Manager

• Operations NCO= Operations Supervisor

###Don't Forget Soft Skills###

Solving problems and clear communication are important to doing well in the military. And they are hugely important in the business world. As you're writing, don’t forget that you've also honed these skills during your time in the service:

• conflict resolution

• ability to work in diverse environments (maybe you've worked with the foreign populace in a tribal region of the world (if you deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.).

• ability to adapt in new situations (you’ve developed cohesiveness, built and gained trust throughout your experiences).

This won't be a "get it right the first time" process. You'll have multiple revisions. Consider having several civilians review your resume and tweak with each critique. That will keep you in the practice of constantly updating your skills and accomplishments.