Veteran Job Search Problems Mirror Others Changing Careers

May 28 2012 in career change, Featured, reCareered Blog by Phil Rosenberg

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In honor of Memorial Day, let’s look at the job search problems returning veterans face.

First, let’s not only remember fallen servicemen/women but also thank all who have served to keep our country free and safe.

As a thank you to those who are currently serving our country and those who have recently returned to civilian life, let’s discuss job search for vets.

The challenges facing veterans are not all that different from anyone else changing careers. The biggest difference is communications.

If you served as a nurse, stop reading and start applying for jobs. If you served as a nurse in the military, you’ve had better training and experience than most hospital nurses. You should have no problem finding work.

This is why some of our vets enter careers that are similar to the military, with similar goals … to protect civilians. These career choices include police, fire, security, FBI, CIA, government work and government contracting.

But most vets don’t choose these paths, preferring to enter the corporate world. Corporate oriented vets have similar challenges as career changers – showing how what you did is similar to your hiring manager’s needs.

When returning vets look for civilian jobs, most will be looking jobs that are very different than what they did while serving our country.

When transitioning to the corporate world, you’ve got the challenge of translating what you did in your military job into civilian workforce needs. Similarly, career changers have the same challenge – translating what they did into the needs of the new job function or industry they seek to enter.

The bigger challenge for vets is describing value in corporate terms, rather than military terms. While serving your country, your job was to help protect those of us back at home. While hiring managers should be grateful for your efforts, protecting our nation probably doesn’t translate into business value.

Military language is unique – it’s not used by most of society or employers. When you use military language on your resume, your target employer is unlikely to see how your skills solves the employers’ problems. When career changers use language from their past job function and industry, they have the same problem – it’s tough for their target employer to see how past experience solves the hiring manager’s needs.

What language should you use in your job search?

So if you avoid using language from the armed services or past industry/job function, then what language should you use?

Why not use the language of your target employer?

The challenge is that each employer has its own unique language, that’s different than other organizations. Different jargon, different acronyms, different job titles, different metrics all add up to different language.

That’s how to solve most of the challenges of returning vets and career changers – use the language of your target employer. But since each employer has different language, you’ll have to use different language for each different employer.

If each employer’s language is different, then how can you know what vocabulary to use?

Just communicate … and listen.

Talk to many people inside each employer on your target list. But when you talk, listen specifically to the language, the vocabulary, phrases, jargon, metrics. and abbreviations your contact uses. Don’t just listen to what they say … but concentrate on how they say it.

When you start to describe what you’ve done, using the employer’s own language, you make it easier for the hiring manager to match your background with their needs. This starts with your resume, but extends into your language when you communicate with anyone in the hiring process from that employer.

This works for vets, and it works for career changers.

Again, my thanks and our country’s thanks for keeping us safe, secure and free.


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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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