Titan Career Tips: Transitioning From the Military

09/18/23  
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You have selflessly served your country in more ways than can ever be repaid. Now, you begin your next journey as you transition from military to civilian life and employment. At Titan Machinery, we believe your experiences and the skillsets you've developed while serving our country are invaluable to any team you join, and we want you on ours. To help you get started, we've compiled some tips to keep in mind when building your resume and interviewing for a new job in the civilian world.

Before You Begin:

As a member of the United States Military, you have an array of resources available to assist in this transition. One document you'll want to be sure you get a copy of is your Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET). Your VMET document will be one of the most impactful resources as it compiles all your training and experience records in one place while also describing your Service occupations in civilian terms. You can request a copy of this document by signing into your milConnect. Your VMET gets updated every January, April, July, and October – so you'll want to ensure the copy you're receiving and using for your resume is current. If it's not, find those exact details on other documents associated with your more recent Service occupations and trainings to include in your resume.

 
Another great resource is the Military Occupational Classification (MOC) Crosswalk, available through O*Net, which helps to identify your hard and soft skills, credentials, and education obtained while in the military. It then connects them to relevant civilian opportunities for you to browse. O*Net also provides the My Next Move for Veterans tool, which allows you to browse careers based on keywords, industry, or your existing interests and skillsets. 
 
At the end of the day, you don't have to know exactly what it is you want to do. The important thing is to get started and utilize the resources available through the military, designed to guide you toward continued success.
 

Getting Started:

Getting started is usually the most challenging part, so use the resources available for this step as well. The U.S. Department of Labor has a Veteran's Employment and Training Service page designed to provide you with various resources, as does The Department of Veteran Affairs website. Use these, whether a Veteran or active duty, because they were made for you! 

Take the time to research the position and employer you're targeting. This will make the resume writing process easier for you because you can include keywords from the job description and use those to kick off that writing process. Connect your goals and qualifications with the qualities the company communicates they are looking for, whether in the job description or on their website.
 

The Writing Process:

There are also a variety of resources to help you with this step, and we'll include one built specifically for military members below. First, though, here are a few universally agreed-upon tips:  

  • Understand the basic elements of a resume and then choose a format that best meets your needs. The most common are chronological, emphasizing your work history, and functional, highlighting your skills. If you have stayed within one particular career field and have a lot of history and growth to spotlight within that field, and are applying for a similar position, chronological will be a great fit for you. If you're switching career paths or have gaps in your employment history, use a functional format to focus on your qualifications, accomplishments, skill sets, and goals. In most instances, a combination of these two will be a great choice – allowing you to put greater emphasis on your goals and qualifications at the top while still listing your work history and accomplishments below that.

  • Start with a skeleton outline! Don't get too caught up in the details right away. Organize the sections of your resume, get the basic information on the page, and worry about the details later.

  • Be concise and consolidate your work history where it makes sense. We want our resumes to be 1-2 pages and easy to read, especially when employers could be looking through hundreds of them. Keep the responsibilities and accomplishments within your previous work experiences to 1-3 lines, and always begin your bullet point with an action verb. These do not need to be complete sentences! 

  • Include numbers that spotlight the measurable data you accomplished in that role when possible.

  • Market yourself! Don't hesitate to spotlight the transferable skills and achievements you have and other skill sets that might set you apart from the rest. Use the keywords you found when researching the position, and be specific as you connect your skills to the position they are hiring for. Finally, ensure the vocabulary you use can be understood by a civilian. Translate military-specific words and acronyms to civilian terms and ask someone you trust to proofread them. If you make substantial changes afterward, ask them to reread it.
Interested in online resume builders? Hiring Our Heroes, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, provides an easy-to-use "Personal Branding Resume Engine" that will take the military experience you input and translate it into a civilian resume or even a business card. You can learn more at resumeengine.org. 
 

The Interview:

You've got the interview. Now what? As a service member, you are no stranger to proper preparation. This is no different. You got this interview because you have years of experience with integrity, loyalty, discipline, strong work ethic, leadership skills, and more. This is your opportunity to demonstrate those qualities and values you embody. 

  • Arrive early or on time, turn off your cell phone, dress to impress, and greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and confidence. 

  • Be comfortable, make eye contact, speak personably, and listen with intention. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification if you don't understand a question being asked or even take a moment to pause and think. A few moments of quiet is better than distracting filler words.

  • Remember that much of your knowledge might be very specific to military culture. Be sure whatever you're speaking about can be understood by a civilian. This is your chance to bridge the gap from your previous work and leadership experiences to what they are looking for in their company and open positions.

  • Always be positive and open to learning. Never speak poorly of previous employers, no matter how negative your prior work experiences may have been. And no matter how unsure you might be of your qualifications for the job, always display confidence in what you're bringing to the table – including your willingness to learn.

  • As the interview wraps up, be sure you have a few questions prepared to ask them. You want to show your interest in this job, and this is a good way of doing so. You can ask them what they're looking for in an ideal candidate, what they feel the most challenging part of the position might be if there are opportunities for continuing education and growth, or even just what the day-to-day might look like. At the end of the interview, thank them for the opportunity and ask when you can expect a follow-up. 
 

Summary:

To all our Veteran and active-duty applicants, the transition from military to civilian life is not one you need to tackle alone. Remember to use your resources, believe in and draw from the valuable experiences you've gained in the service, and apply to as many opportunities as possible. You have the qualities our team wants.

To our friends and family members of the military, don't hesitate to share these resources or opportunities you come across with your loved one. Even when it may feel challenging or when they may even be struggling, we know their future is worth the effort.

It is our turn to take care of you.

 

 

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