Nearly one-quarter of male veterans ages 18 to 24 are jobless, according to a 2014 government report. In preparing hundreds of young vets for a corporate job search, The Resume Place has demonstrated that these accomplished women and men must translate their military skills and experience into the language of business.
Despite their documented skills and experience, both female and male veterans are more likely to be unemployed than their counterparts who have not served in the Armed Forces, says a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2014 report on the employment situation of veterans. Young men paid a particularly large penalty for their veteran status: 24.3 percent of these 18- to 24-year-olds were jobless, compared with 15.8 percent of nonveterans, according to an analysis of the report by The Resume Place.
Still, with thousands of federal retirements looming, many veterans will find great careers with the federal government. But given sequestration and other pressures to curb federal employment, vets will encounter ever sharper competition for those select civil-service jobs that do come open.
Fortunately, the private-sector economy creates several times more employment than the federal government does; four of five employed veterans are in the private sector, according to the BLS report. Although many corporate employers are indifferent to the unique skills and experience offered by veterans, more enlightened companies — including the Top 100 Military-Friendly Corporations — extend a warm welcome to applicants who have served in the Armed Forces.
For any opportunity in business, it’s critical for returning veterans to translate their military experience into a resume that corporate hiring managers and human resources officers will value highly — and will perceive as a match for a current job posting.
Creating this translation can seem daunting at first. Here’s a step-by-step guide for returning veterans seeking to meet the challenge.
Veterans can first do an advanced search on LinkedIn, seeking out corporate professionals in occupations related to their own who are also veterans. How did they translate that experience into the language of their LinkedIn profile?
Next, returning servicemen and women can ask to exchange resumes with their fellow veterans who have recently completed a successful transition to the corporate world. In wording a corporate resume, veterans should visualize their new audience: not military superiors, but rather women and men in business attire reviewing their qualifications. The idea is to translate one’s MOS and related experience into a cluster of organizational accomplishments expressed in the language of corporate America.
Follow Instructions Carefully
Rather than looking for shortcuts in the process, veterans applying for corporate programs should get with the program, just as they did in the military. If a company’s job posting asks the applicant to build her resume on the company’s career site, the applicant should do so. It will put the applicant at a disadvantage to skirt the preferred procedure by submitting the resume via email, for example.
Change Your Keywords
For each relevant new corporate opportunity that arises, the veteran applicant should do a fresh keyword analysis of the job announcement and re-customize his resume accordingly. This extra work can speed the way to a rewarding corporate job. One simple way to identify these keywords is look for the words that are repeated most often in the job announcement.
Get the Word Out
Veterans applying for corporate jobs should keep in mind that the medium can be as important as the message. That corporate resume should be posted everywhere corporate recruiters might search for it: on LinkedIn, and on both the big, broad-based job boards and industry-specific ones.
Speak the Right Language
The painstaking translation of military experience to corporate relevance can’t stop with the resume. For the interview and all other communications with the prospective employer, success stories should be translated from military lingo to the more widely understood language of private-sector business.
“It’s possible for veterans to take the difficult task of writing a corporate resume and make the process systematic and the goal obtainable — if you are willing to do your homework,” says Kathryn Troutman, president of The Resume Place.