4 Tips For Veterans Transitioning From The Military To The Civilian Job Market


One of the biggest challenges military veterans face when reintegrating back into civilian society is finding a good job. A job search can be stressful for anyone, but with everything that returning veterans have on their minds - such as recovering from injuries and reconnecting with family and friends - it can be an especially difficult process.

Every branch of the military has its own ways of providing the men and women serving it with extremely valuable job skills. The primary challenge that many veterans have when returning home is that it isn't always clear how they can translate the skills they gained during their service to a civilian job.

For a military veteran, finding a good job that fits in with his or her skillset can go a long way toward making the reintegration process easier. Here are some ways in which veterans can make sure their military resume translates to a civilian job application.

Choose a career that fits with existing skills

Military training is often very specific - a veteran probably spent the bulk of his or her service performing certain duties for the duration of it. Looking for a civilian job upon return from duty will be much easier if veterans look for jobs that match their military experience. For example, an Air Force pilot will have a much more direct path to employment if he or she looks for work in an aviation-related field.

Emphasize the intangibles

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, some of the most desirable traits that veterans have are their intangible skills. Leadership, teamwork, initiative, the ability to work under pressure - all of these are highly sought-after qualities for employers looking to make a hire.

Fortunately, military veterans have these abilities in spades, having obtained them through the course of their service. Every veteran should make sure to highlight these traits on their resumes and in interviews. The VA office also recommended that veterans prepare a few stories and examples of times they demonstrated leadership or teamwork. These examples are powerful because they show, rather than tell the employer about the abilities of the applicant.

Translate military language to civilian language

The military has its own unique acronyms and terminology that doesn't really translate well to a civilian who has no familiarity with the language. For this reason, the Global Post suggested that job-seeking veterans make sure they translate their experience and skills into a more civilian-friendly vernacular.

For example, a veteran who is asked to talk about the job skills he or she gained in the service may refer to his MOS, or military occupational specialty. An interviewer without any military experience is unlikely to know what an MOS means, leading to confusion and possibly hurting the chances they will want to hire that person.

Veterans will also want to make sure they explain their experience in clear terms. While being a leader in the military is certainly impressive, it's not enough for a veteran to say he led people. Again, specific examples will go a long way to making sure an employer understands just how valuable a veteran's skills really are.

Have your paperwork ready

Many employers in both the private and public sectors have initiatives through which they hire veterans. Returning veterans should certainly explore those options, as they will have preference over other non-military candidates for these positions. This is only possible, however, if all of the relevant paperwork is in order.

The VA office strongly recommended that veterans make sure they have both their DD214 (Report of Separation) and their DD2586 (Verification of Military Experience and Training) handy at all times throughout the job search process. These documents prove military training and are required for veteran preference programs.