Military.com recently posted a “Real Transition Story” that accurately reflects a chief concern of many of the transitioning military job seekers I come in contact with on a daily basis. Of particular note is the following comment:
“I think the most difficult part of transitioning is putting military experience into civilian terms. Civilians don’t understand what a NCOIC is or how important it is to manage a squadron munitions account. Moreover, transitioning to the civilian work force oftentimes requires making a profit. We all know that military units don’t have to do that, they simply have to stay within their budgets.”
The entire blog post can be found at http://transitionstories.military.com/2008/10/do-not-give-up.html?ESRC=careers-b.nl
The author’s insight into the civilian workforce (profits-driven) vs. the military (driven by budgets) is spot on. At companies actively seeking out and hiring military-experienced talent through military-to-civilian recruiters, the biggest complaint doesn’t seem to be the lack of experience in driving profits. Rather, it seems to be the military’s general lack of understanding when it comes to just how important the bottom-line is.
So here is how I propose military job seekers overcome this obstacle: Remember that the civilian world is seeking employees who can not only make them money, but save them money and time and/or increase efficiency. Savings in money, time, materials and manpower; increased production and efficiency; quality assurance; and safety all contribute towards the bottom-line.
With this in mind try to list quantifiable accomplishments that show a track record of above average performance on your military resume.
The following is an example of an impressive, quantifiable accomplishment:
“Saved Navy $X and decreased training time by 2 weeks by re-designing and combining 3 separate classes while maintaining comprehensive course material.”
Always state the impact first and then the accomplishment.
The same principle applies to interviews. When interviewing, convey the fact that you understand the company’s need to increase profits and tell them how you are poised to make that happen. Of course, avoid military jargon. Speak to and write about your experiences in terms your grandmother could understand. But keep in mind that success in quantifiable terms is the most universal language of all in the corporate world.