How veterans can get a leg up in the job market

Feature Article- Fri., May. 6, 2011
- Contributed Photo

If you have retired from the military and are transitioning to a civilian career, it’s time to take an inventory of your transferable skills – the skills that will place you light years ahead of your civilian peers in a recovering economy.

The job market remains sluggish and veterans in particular are challenged in finding work. But there is good news. Through the experience and knowledge gained from military service, including training and coursework, you will have gained valuable transferable skills that can serve you well in your transition to civilian life. The challenge is to define these skills and sell them – and yourself – to your future employer.

What are transferable skills? These are the proficiencies mainly acquired through broad work, education and life experience, and they translate across jobs and career fields. For instance, if you worked as a training specialist in the military, you have probably mastered communications and personnel management skills, as well as leadership abilities that are sought and valued in business and industry, government or education.

Along with transferable skills, most people also have developed work-content skills that are technical and job-specific. These typically require formal training, are more specific to trades or professions, and have a separate skills-based vocabulary or jargon that is unique to the job, such as knowledge of certain sophisticated equipment operation. Work-content skills are not as portable as transferable skills, but when combined with them, they reflect the strength of your overall work ethic and demonstrate the array of accomplishments and abilities you have attained.

What employers want

Prospective employers have one important question: What can you do for us? The answer is often found in your portable, transferable skills. These also influence how you prepare a top-notch résumé and cover letter, conduct your job search and convey your talents in an interview. As you recognize and reveal these skills, you will also get a boost of self-esteem about your own achievements.

Identify your transferable skills

Start by reviewing your past or current educational, work, military and life experiences. Did your experience teach you to analyze data and write reports? Supervise others? Work as a team? Make quick decisions or meet deadlines? Organize and implement projects?

If you can analyze, write, plan, organize, lead others and work with a team,  you have just identified six highly-valued skills you can place on a résumé, discuss in a job interview and put to use in a new work setting.

“Veterans may not realize the many exceptional transferable skills they have acquired through their military service,” said Maribeth Gunner Pulliam, the career services coordinator at Excelsior College. “Veterans are trained to lead by example, work respectfully and collaboratively, and accomplish tasks on time – even when facing adversity. They understand the importance of dedication and perseverance. These are all skills employers seek.”

When starting a military transition job search, you can also identify your transferable and work-content skills with online career assessment tools and career guidebooks. This “skills package” record will be a valuable resource for your future, and a reminder of how far you have come.

Trouble getting started?

If you are like many, taking inventory of your various skills and categorizing them may seem like a daunting task. These small steps will help you better prepare for a job search and feel more confident in your ability to convince employers that you are the person they’ve been looking to hire.


Courtesy of ARA Content


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