BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo career counselor Holly
Justice is hosting a workshop Nov. 10 to help student veterans
translate their military experience into resumes that will catch
the attention of civilian companies.
While veterans completing enlistments come home with valuable
skills, finding work can be difficult if employers don't understand
how responsibilities in Iraq and Afghanistan apply to civilian
jobs, Justice says.
Below, Justice answers a few questions about how a good resume
can help veterans improve their chances of landing a meaningful
Q: How can a good resume help veterans re-enter the civilian
A: The challenge that veterans face is to translate
military language on their resumes to something that civilians
unfamiliar with the military culture will understand and
appreciate. Veterans need to be descriptive in their language so
that civilian employers have a better picture of the candidate's
responsibilities and accomplishments. There are terms used in the
military on a daily basis that are unfamiliar to people who haven't
been in the military.
A resume that truly illustrates the individuals' experience and
skill sets is critical to getting an interview. Veterans looking to
enter the civilian job market have incredible skills to offer
employers. They can be a great fit for companies seeking candidates
who are adaptable and have great professionalism, along with
leadership and management experience.
Q: What are some common mistakes veterans might make when
writing a civilian resume?
A: One of the most common issues is the use of military
jargon that is not familiar to civilians. Veterans may list their
rank as an "E-4,"or list a military term for the unit they led. If
the civilian employer or staffing agency is unfamiliar with the
military, they will not understand the level of importance of that
rank, or how large the unit was or what a job actually included in
its responsibilities. Instead of saying you're an "E-4," you
probably need to include a title that describes of your role, along
with information that gives a sense of your duties.
Another typical issue is how the veteran describes his or her
experience and accomplishments. The military is very team- and
mission-oriented. The civilian corporate world tends to be driven
by profit margins and competition within the company. Veterans must
highlight the parallel experiences of customer service, team work
and accomplishment that come from completing a mission.
Q: What kinds of skills might veterans highlight?
A:Leadership is important. For instance, a veteran might
want to say how many people they commanded, but instead of using
the word "command," they might want to consider using a civilian
term like "managed" or "led."
At our career workshops, we don't go in-depth with the students
about every branch and every position, because there are so many.
Everyone's experience is different. We just want to help people
recognize that there are changes they can make that will improve
their employment opportunity chances, and to point them to some
resources that can help them make improvements.
Q: For people who can't attend your workshop, what are some
resources available to help veterans improve their civilian
A: UB Students are welcome to use the Career Services
office and library, of course. Any veteran can check out some great
resources online for working on their resume such as The National
Resource Directory and Department of Labor's "Hiring Our Heroes"
website. There are also many sites that assist veterans with their
job search and career development, including MyNextMove for
Veterans and the Transition Assistance Online program, just to name
Holly M. Justice
University at Buffalo Career Services
The National Resource Directory, https://www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov
Hiring Our Heroes, http://www.dol.gov/vets
MyNextMove For Veterans, http://www.mynextmove.org/vets
Transition Assistance Online program, http://www.taonline.com