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3 Steps to Bridge the Military to Civilian Language Barrier

Posted by Chrissa Dockendorf

Military to CivilianEveryone is talking about the need to help veterans and transitioning military members find a job. It’s a learning process for both our service members and the recruiters looking to hire them.

The number one reason I always hear mentioned for this disconnect is vets and transitioning military members are not “civilianizing” their resumes and recruiters often do not understand military jargon.

Bridging the Language Barrier in 3 Steps

So how do we meet in the middle and bridge that language barrier?

Start with your Military Occupation Specialty (MOS)/Rating/AFSC. Follow these steps to get yourself in the civilian mindset.

1. Look at your MOS/Rating/AFSC and see where it is too “militarized.” Can you come up with a civilian synonym for that term or phrase? Unsure how to do that? Ask a civilian!

Call your mom/dad/aunt/uncle/best friend’s cousin’s grandfather’s girlfriend. Read the description provided by the military. Can they tell you what you do based on that description? If not, describe it to them in your own words and see what you can come up with to make it more civilianized.

Most Code/Rating descriptions are pretty easy for civilians to understand. It’s when service members take that description and start adding their accomplishments that jargon comes into play to muddy the waters.

2. Add your specific skills and accomplishments to your new and improved MOS/Rating/AFSC description.

If the description is easy enough for a Recruiter to read then the next thing they want to know is what sets you apart. Why would I hire you over anyone else with the same background? This is the time to talk about your accomplishments. I know that’s tough. But it’s a competitive world out there so you need to self-reflect and think about personal accomplishments.

3. Take some time to find civilian jobs that would fit your skill set and see what the requirements for the position are.

Requirements are the qualifications that recruiters need candidates to meet in order to be considered for the open position. Most of the time that is education, certifications and years experience with the required skills. So how do you find this out? Hit up a job board and start typing in some of the keywords that would be part of your MOS/Rating/AFSC into the search bar. Don’t put location, education, salary, years experience or anything else. Just enter some keywords.

The results will bring back job listings that you can read through and see if they match what you are looking for. Take time to notice the keywords they use in the posting and also the position requirements. Do all the postings require a certification that you don’t have? It may be time to go get one. Does the position need a 4-year degree and you only have a 2-year degree? May be time to head back to school.

I know that many of you have strong hands-on experience in your field and it can be off-putting and disappointing to hear that you need to get more education/experience/certifications to qualify for a job that you have most likely been doing during your military career. Unfortunately with job description requirements there isn’t usually much recruiters/companies can do. Especially if it’s for a cleared position with a contractor.

Start Early

I urge you to start looking well before your transition period to see what requirements you will need to meet once you are out and start working on those as soon as you can.

Chrissa Dockendorf

Chrissa Dockendorf is a Sr. Talent Souring Specialist with Randstad Sourceright specializing in Building Automation and Software Engineers. Follow Chrissa on Twitter @MissionHired.

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 26, 2014 10:02 am

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