While civilians may have good intentions by considering military job applicants, they generally don’t have the time or the motivation to learn the military language in order to evaluate the talents that prior military members can deliver.
The burden of translating military experience unfairly falls on military members because civilians do not have the experience to understand the military world. This is precisely the challenge military members and civilians have when trying to understand each other. They are speaking different languages, and anything lost in translation could ultimately lead to missed job opportunities.
Many companies today use software to screen their applicant pool. If the software finds words on your resume that don’t align with the industry, like military jargon, your resume will most likely get kicked out. The bottom line is that if your resume doesn’t contain the right key words, you most likely won’t make it through the screening process. Unless you are applying for a job at the Department of Defense, your resume should not contain any military acronyms. Find someone in the industry you are applying in and have them review your resume. When writing your resume, assume that the hiring manager knows nothing about the military.
Civilianize your job titles, duties, accomplishments, training and awards so they are understandable by civilian hiring managers. Veterans returning from combat duty are finding that civilian employers don’t understand the skills they gained on the battlefield, which are, in fact, transferable to the civilian job market. You might have heard that you need to develop a functional resume format to downplay your military experience, but the opposite is true. Your military experience is an asset and should be marketed as such; just put it in terms that civilians comprehend.
In addition to translating your military record to a civilian resume, a veteran must be able to speak about their job, position title and responsibilities in a coherent and easy-to-understand fashion… without military jargon. Attributes honed in the military include dedication, leadership, teamwork, positive work ethic and cross-functional skills. If you fear a potential employer won’t realize the significance of your military experience, make sure you are able to clearly communicate the values you are bringing to the table. Avoid using acronyms and military jargon and instead use plain, simple English terminology.
Your military service and the defense of our country is among the most admirable occupations anyone can have, but the sad truth is that references to the horrors of combat leave many employers squeamish. Tone down or remove references to the battlefield and replace them with terms that civilians can relate to.
Now that you know what not to say when seeking post-military employment, read How to Present Your Military Traits In An Interview.