How to sell your military skills to a civilian employer

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Job Search

The book Job Search by Lt. Col. (Ret.) David G. Henderson provides good tips on the transition from the military to civilian employment. In Chapter 1, Henderson encourages readers to think about–and actually write down–what skills they have, what job preferences they have, and what goals they have. It may sound hokey, but it is a useful exercise that will prompt you to learn something about yourself.

The subtitle, “Marketing Your Military Experience,” refers to translating your military skills to a civilian hiring manager. This includes how to describe your experience and strengths on resumes. The book also includes smaller, practical tips; for example, avoid using military acronyms and don’t wear military dress shoes in civilian interviews.

The book is also helpful as a general employment guide with thoughtful suggestions on how to search for jobs and how to improve your resume. Henderson’s guidance is relevant to anybody seeking a second career or making a mid-life jump from one field to a very different field, because that’s essentially what military retirees are doing.

I read the 5th edition which was published in 2009. Even though the Internet had already been around for a long time then, the descriptions of online job searches in this book are quite dated. There are good resources listed for job searching, career assistance, and veteran support services, but some of the resources seem dated as well. The appendices are a bit too long and redundant bordering on fluff, but those pages can be skipped or skimmed.

This book is written from the point of view of a personnel officer attempting to help a servicemember who is within six months from retirement. However, I think it would be useful to veterans even several years after they have separated or retired from the military. Spend a few bucks to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward during a career transition!

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