Speaking civilian

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Translating military skills and duty titles to ‘civilian-ese’ for potential employers can be a challenging task for some veterans.

“We know employers and companies want to hire veterans,” said National Director of Employment Jeff Hall. “But, many of the hiring representatives do not have a military background so it’s crucial we learn to translate our talents so prospective employers can understand them.”

Hall said common military parlance, such as ‘S-4’ or ‘NCOIC,’ for example, would be better explained by civilian terminology like ‘logistics manager’ or ‘team leader.’

Another tool is to translate military specialties into civilian equivalents.

“There’s probably not a lot of tank gunners or survival, evasion, resistance, escape specialists needed in the civilian world,” Hall said. “But, you could translate those skills by changing the vocabulary to something like heavy equipment operator or advanced instructor.”

DAV Human Resources Director Randy Reese advised to have someone who has not spent any time in uniform to give a resume a look.

“If at all possible, ask someone who hasn’t served to review the skills that are listed on your resume,” said Reese. “If they can understand it you’re probably on the right track.”

Hall agreed and said the same principle applies to personal achievement and recognition one may have earned while in uniform.

“Most people with hiring authority won’t understand the significance of earning something like ‘Warrior of the Quarter’ or ‘Staff NCO of the Year,’” Hall said. “These accomplishments are important and they have their place; but, like everything else, should be converted to civilian language.”

For examples like these, Hall recommended phraseology similar to ‘Manager of the Quarter’ or ‘Project Lead of the Year,’ respectively.

“Veterans have many desirable traits and top-notch training that employers want,” said Hall. “But, it is up to the veteran community to ensure our skill sets are explained well for the non-veteran community.”

For a comprehensive list of employers actively seeking veteran talent, visit jobs.dav.org.