after two years with the Navy Hospital, Rivers was selected from a group of 87 candidates to head an Allstate office.
Planning ahead also prepared him financially. Rivers started saving and investing for his second career six years before his military retirement. Although he wasn’t sure what he’d do next, he knew he wanted financial constraints to be the last thing to deter him from following his dreams.
TRANSLATE YOUR SKILLS INTO ENGLISH
Communication and interpersonal skills, along with teamwork, are high on the list of what employers want. Spears, who had done everything in the supply field from originating paperwork to managing entire operations, recalls, “It was difficult, but I knew I had to talk `civilian’ if I was going to get across to employers how important my military experience was.”
“Ex-military members must be able to demonstrate their past performance through clearly articulated examples. We want to know what projects they managed and the value they added to the organization,” says Brasfield. “Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are a must. From a human resources perspective, we ask, `Has this candidate truly made the transition from a directive management style to a participatory one?’”
There is no question, service members have the skills and experience employers want. Communicating those skills to employers is a different story. Eliminate jargon, war stories and acronyms from speech and written tools (resumes, cover letters, etc.) For example, instead of saying “battalion,” keep it simple and state the number of soldiers in your division. No matter how important something is, if a person does not understand the terminology, it might as well be left unsaid.
RESEARCH WHAT EMPLOYERS WANT
To compete in today’s job market, it’s critical to know what employers are looking for. Spears, who retired from the Navy in November, used the San Diego installation’s job assistance services to find work. He also increased his scope by using the public library and reading newspapers and other literature about the job-search process.
“Attending the job-search workshops and classes really gave me a heads up on what to expect in the civilian world,” says Spears, 49, who works as a supply technician at the San Diego office of Management Consulting Inc. (ManCon), which provides supply and logistical personnel to the government. “The access to computerized job banks, the Internet, job- search books and one-on-one sessions with transition and job-search specialists made the difference.” Knowing what was out there helped him focus his job search and make the best fit.
Effective research can uncover data that make military personnel more competitive in the civilian workforce. A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, indicates that 58.6% of entry-level hires in 1994-95 had co-op or internship experience. Almost 70% of manufacturing new hires started with workplace experience–something military members already have.
A PERFECT FIT?
Look at the big picture when researching an industry. Don’t just look at the facts, read between the lines. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the five industries with the fastest projected job growth will be