By Tranette Ledford
If you want to work as a civilian, you have to talk like one — résumé included. You speak a language foreign to most civilian employers.
No matter how many commendations you have or how skilled you are, hiring managers don’t know what OCAR is, they’ve never referred to a job as an MOS, and they won’t have a clue what you’re talking about if you say you got a degree through SOC.
As one of the most important tools you’ll use to land interviews, your résumé needs to be written in words employers easily recognize. If they don’t “get” your background and abilities, you’re not going to get the job.
Helping people get jobs is what Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark are all about. Together and separately, they’ve authored dozens of books related to career transitions and job searches. Résumés are their specialty.
In one of their newest books, “Expert Résumés for Military to Career Transition,” they offer recommendations for how to develop the kind of résumés that lead to job interviews.
“Our book explains how to tailor your résumé to transition from military careers to civilian careers by using strategies and vocabulary,” said Enelow, a certified résumé writer and career-transition coach. “One example is the transferability of skills strategy.
“Say you’ve been a commander and now you want to be a human resources manager. You need to talk about organizational development and work force optimization. These are words the human resources industry understands. Likewise, if you’re a mechanic, you don’t want to talk about your work on a Bradley tank. You want to talk about your experience in fleet management and vehicle preparation and maintenance.”
Enelow advises service members to research the industry in which they want to work and learn the vocabulary relevant to that career field.
“Job ads are good places to get the terminology,” she said. “Also subscribing to industry magazines and publications. To learn the lingo you need to immerse yourself in the community in which you want to work.”
She outlines other strategies, such as including a work summary on a résumé.
“Paint the picture of your experience with your summary,” she said. “The value of any summary is that it gets you through that first quick review and tells who you are and how you want to be perceived.”
Dwayne Dupeire has spent 18 years in the Marine Corps. An ordnance officer and chief warrant officer 3 at Camp Geiger, N.C., Dupeire plans to retire when he reaches his 20-year mark. But he’s already prepared for the job search. As soon as he began thinking about his retirement he hired a résumé service to put his military experience into a civilianized marketing package.
“I know my strengths,” Dupeire said, “I have a good background in leadership and dependability. I’m in charge of an armory with more than a billion-dollar account. But I’m not a résumé writer and I knew someone else could do it better than I could.”
Dupeire contacted CareerProPlus and sent the company a data sheet that listed every job he’s held and every place he’s worked.
In return for about $700, he received a résumé that converted 18 years of military service into a document that summarizes his best qualities and highlights his managerial and supervisory abilities “civilian-style.”
“It may sound like a lot of money,” he said. “Paying for a professional résumé ups my chances for the kind of job I want. So it pays for itself.”
CareerProPlus is an extension of CareerPro Global, Inc., headed by Barbara Adams. Her team has been studying hiring trends and the labor market for some 20 years and developing résumés that meet the demands of employers. Adams said that while today’s market is increasingly a good one for military members, transitioners may be overlooked simply because their résumés contain military jargon.
“Some clients have several decades of experience in jobs and in very unique skills that might not be easily understood without some translation,” she said.
“They also may be looking to have two or three different résumés to match different industries. Other clients will need only one résumé and because of their experience, they won’t require as much converting.”