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by Vault Careers | November 10, 2010


According to a May 2010 BLS report, there were 22 million veterans among the civilian population in 2009—and they're just as likely to be unemployed, despite the skills they developed over their years of service. In a lot of cases, the problem is that a career in the military doesn't necessarily prepare someone for the job search process in the civilian world. Here are five ways that veterans can get an edge and get hired:

Assess Your Strengths

Before you sit down to write a resume, the first thing you need is to understand how the talents, skills, and abilities from your military career relate to business and industry. And there will be plenty: military personnel develop traits beneficial to commercial enterprises because they are held to high standards of performance and operations.

Military personnel make excellent leaders, once given a specific task: they are decisive, resourceful, and tremendous team players; and they perform well under pressure.

Explain Yourself

Civilian employers are not always familiar with military lingo, which can give veterans a serious disadvantage in the job seeking process—especially if you have to get your resume past an automated screener that's only set up to catch common corporate jargon.

While typical jobs in the military and corporate worlds may have very different titles, many of the underlying skill-sets are similar. Bridging the divide between your experiences and those employers are looking for may well be as simple as taking the time to browse some job ads and absorb the kind of language you find there. The major challenge is in correlating different assignments to private sector roles, including financial planning and analysis, operations management, purchasing, human resource management, systems administration, and administrative support.

Additionally, those in the civilian world often have little idea of where in the hierarchy a military rank falls—everything below General or Admiral is pretty much a mystery! As such, you may find yourself being offered positions that carry significantly less responsibility than you're used to. You can counter that by including specific examples in your resume ("managed a workgroup of 25," or "controlled a $7 million budget"). Sometimes, however, you just have to take whatever is open; the good news there is that your skills and experience should help you to stand out, meaning promotions should follow.

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--Phil Stott,


Filed Under: Job Search|Networking