By Kristen Carter, M.Ed., Career Services at American Military University
Whether you are retiring from the military, transitioning from the classroom, or simply looking to move into the public service field, identifying and communicating your military service and other skills to potential employers is essential.
Jacquelyn Brookins, senior talent acquisition specialist with American Public University System, believes the public service industry is a natural transition for veterans.
“Organizations in the various fields within public service are specifically looking to hire veterans because of their hard work and dedication to a mission. The skills and experience that military veterans bring to the table are highly valued by this industry,” she said.
However, translating your skills can be a daunting task. While you may possess the necessary experience, not properly communicating what you have to offer can be detrimental to your job search.
Identify Your Transferable Skills
To begin, you must determine the skills you possess that would benefit a variety of careers. If you find yourself struggling with what it is you have to offer, a great resource to get you started is the Skills Profiler available on CareerOneStop. Simply choose from the list of skills that apply to your past or current experience and rate your proficiency in each area. In addition to helping you hone in on applicable skills, your rating is also used to match your skills to relevant occupations.
Another great resource for service members is the Military to Civilian Occupation Translator, which helps you connect your military skills to civilian occupations by searching on your MOC code.
Learn How to Communicate These Skills to Employers
After identifying the transferable skills you have to offer, it is important to be able to communicate them. It’s one thing to say you have great organizational skills, but you must also state how you have demonstrated them in the past. Hiring managers want to know how you have progressed through the years.
Achieve this by focusing on job accomplishments, rather than job duties. Avoid the use of generic statements. Anyone can write that they have excellent communication skills.
However, explaining in detail whom you communicated with, what kind of information was conveyed, and if it was verbal or written, begins to paint a clearer picture. Use numbers whenever possible to substantiate your accomplishments. By quantifying your experience, it demonstrates the level of responsibility you held and what you are capable of accomplishing.
Here are some additional tips for you to employ on your resume:
- Avoid industry jargon and acronyms. Recruiters are typically not experts in the field for which they are hiring. Therefore, do not assume that they know what you are trying to communicate when you use industry jargon or acronyms.
- Tailor your application documents. No two resumes you send out should be the same. While this can be a time-consuming process, it’s very important to tailor each document based on the job vacancy for which you are applying. Remember, your focus should be on submitting quality job applications, rather than on the quantity.
Brookins also believes that consistency is key when it comes to your resume. “The information provided in the summary or your list of qualifications needs to match what is reflected in your resume. The same goes for LinkedIn. If LinkedIn tells a different story than your resume, you may be passed over,” she said.
A common mistake many job applicants make is dismissing certain skillsets because they think everyone has the same level of proficiency in that skill. That’s not the case, especially for military veterans or law enforcement professionals. For instance, many assume Microsoft Office skills are a common skillset that most—if not all—people are capable of performing in the workforce. As a result, candidates do not find it necessary to highlight such skills on his or her resume. However, making this assumption may hurt your chances of landing the job since you are not fully displaying your skillset. Instead, own all of your skills, and this confidence will shine through to potential recruiters and employers.
These tips will prepare you for a great opportunity coming up on September 22, when American Military University will host a Public Service Virtual Career Fair. If you are an AMU student or alumnus who is currently looking for new career opportunities, please register for this career event. You will have the opportunity to virtually chat with a variety of public service organizations and agencies who are interested in hiring students and alumni.
If you need assistance preparing your resume or want to discuss the best way to communicate your skillset, please send an email to our career coaches today!
About the Author: Kristen Carter serves as a Senior Career Exploration Specialist in the Department of Career Services at American Public University System. She possesses a B.S. in Psychology and a M.Ed. in School Counseling. Kristen is a Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF), a certified Meyers Briggs’ practitioner, and currently serves as a Virginia Member-at-Large on the board of the Middle Atlantic Career Counseling Association (MACCA).