Military Transition: Military Resume Tricks Rant

A post by Patra Frame, ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Strategist.

I recently have begun hearing again that some employment counselors are telling transitioning military folks to omit their military service information and/or titles. Instead they suggest one use words like “major international organization vice-president.” This was a sad trend after the Vietnam war, driven by popular talk that all vets were psychotic. Do you really need a work life equivalent of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

First, every civilian recruiter, HR person, and hiring manager is going to immediately recognize this trick. It doesn’t work. It can hurt your chances.

Second, do you really want to work for an organization that does not value your military service? Why? There are plenty of organizations that do see the value of military experience where you can be you.

No knowledgeable career counselor will try to get you to obfuscate your military service.

Do your homework and find the right targets. Explain your experience in terms those companies use and understand. Sure, you should keep the military jargon to a minimum and you do not have to use the exact titles of every job and command you were in. But keep it real and show your achievements.

There are plenty of people out there who do want to hire veterans because they appreciate the attributes of most military people. And plenty who will see your experience and achievements and recognize what you could add to their operations.

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Hey Kathleen – One of the challenges today for military transitioning into the workforce is that most civilian employers don’t know how to map military experience to their job qualifications. It’s like reading another language – what are your tips for translating military experience in ways that make sense to all potential employers?

Kathleen Smith

Andy, sounds like another post and I am on it!

In the meantime, part of the challenge is like so many people transitioning either out of the military or civilian government work, is that the careers are categorized in a specific language and we tend to internalize this. Very similar to many of us thinking that “we are our job title” Thus when we move from one career community to another we end up using the same language in the way we talk about ourselves rather then stepping back, reviewing what we want to do that will be fulfilling to us and how to translate that into the new career community vernacular.

It is very similar to going to a foreign country and being very frustrated that you can’t find a decent restaurant because your can’t ask for the right recommendation.

James Hendrix

Being a vet during Desert Storm I can add a bit from experience here.

Boot camp process is anywhere from 6 weeks to 16 weeks of literally a transformation from “citizen” to “soldier”, then off to schooling (A school, MOS training, or Tech school) anywhere from OJT to 56 weeks. During this “job readiness”, a soldier/sailor is broken down to nothing and then re-built for a specific function. Once through this process, you have become a Human-robot.

You will learn the comradery the military posesses. The military is the “ultimate Fraternity/Sororiety/Brotherhood”, something that “civilian life” does not offer; unless you join a motorcycle club of sorts. I know, I belong to one.

Yet upon discharge, with the “swoop” of a pen, you have been dumped back into “civilian life” and expected to just adapt. There is no program to de-sensitize a soldier/sailor to prepare them back for civilian life. Shame on our government for dumping our brothers and sisters back into an unknown world totally unarmed.