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Ways to Avoid Common Mistakes in Your Military to Civilian Employment Transition

As with any major change, making a successful transition from military to civilian employment requires thoughtful planning and preparation. While this list is not all encompassing, the following five tips are intended to help you eliminate several common barriers that may be standing between you and your new civilian career.

1. Google yourself.

Many companies conduct social media background checks on candidates they are considering for open positions. This can be done formally, for a nominal cost to the potential employer, or informally, by a recruiter or hiring manager as they consider your application. Either way, most companies view your online presence and social media pages before making a decision about you as a potential employee. It is imperative that your social media pages portray you in a positive light. Hiring managers often cross-reference your resume or application with your LinkedIn profile. Therefore, it is important to maintain the information on your LinkedIn profile as you would your resume. Include a professional photograph and update your LinkedIn profile regularly to highlight new positions, experiences and acquired skills.

2. Create a professional email address.

List a professional email address on your resume, cover letter, and job application. We recommend using Gmail, as it is considered the current industry standard. Use of other email addresses, such as those ending in ‘@aol.com’ or ‘@hotmail.com,’  indicate that you are out of touch with the current business environment, as most businesses no longer utilize these platforms. We also recommend that your email address be some variation of your first and last name, for example: johndoe@gmail.com or jane_doe@gmail.com.

3. Check your voicemail.

It may not seem like a significant factor, but your voicemail can hinder your ability to obtain employment. Consider implementing the following suggestions:

  • Make sure your voicemail box is set up to receive messages. Otherwise, a hiring manager may not be able to reach you. Some hiring managers will follow up via email, but others will not entertain your application further if they cannot reach you via phone.
  • Avoid using the standard greeting. Instead, customize your greeting to showcase your professionalism. Remember to annunciate and record your greeting in a quiet environment. For example, “Hi, you have reached Ashlee Schrafft. I am unavailable at the moment but please leave a message and I will return your phone call as soon as possible.”
  • Check your voicemail on a regular basis. Technology is not always reliable, so it is important to check your messages regularly even if you do not see a voicemail notification.

 4. Avoid polarizing words.

Negative stereotypes projected specifically on combat veterans are an unfortunate reality, and it is important to be aware of them. Words such as “combat,” “weapon,” “terrorism” and “hostages” should be avoided in verbal and written communication between you and a potential employer. Consider using alternatives such as “high-stress situation,” “equipment” or “critical mission.”

5. Learn to speak Civilian.

When writing a resume, cover letter or speaking with a potential employer, be conscious of the terms you use to describe military experience. Most civilian hiring managers will not understand the acronyms and military terms you are accustomed to using in conversation. For example, a civilian hiring manager will most likely not understand when you explain your MOS as a 92A. Instead explain, “I am a Logistics Specialist.”

At Hire Heroes USA, we specialize in translating military experience into civilian terminology. Our Veteran Transition Specialists can help you craft a civilian resume that effectively translates your military skills and achievements, in addition to helping you articulate your value proposition to civilian employers. Our services are tailored to your individual needs, all at no cost.

Other resources that may help translate your military experience:

In addition to providing free, personalized career-coaching services, Hire Heroes USA has seen great success when utilizing our professional resume template for military to civilian resumes.

Posted by Ashlee Schrafft

Ashlee Schrafft

Ashlee Schrafft is a Veteran Transition Specialist at Hire Heroes USA. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Environmental Sciences from the University of Alabama and has nearly five years of diverse experience in recruiting, human resources, talent acquisition, and military-to-civilian employment transition assistance.

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