TRANSITIONING TO A CIVILIAN CAREER WITH EASE
Many of the duties you performed in the service have a civilian counterpart in business and industry, including here at Travelers. Still, the job search process can be challenging. That’s why we want to help you along the way, with practical resume and interview advice that can make your transition from the military easier and more successful.
YOUR RESUME: Making a good first impression.
The goal of your resume is to obtain an interview. It should give potential employers an overview of your background, while highlighting your accomplishments. You want to stand out among your peers. At a minimum, your resume should include your professional experience in a themed or chronological order, as well as your education, achievements and volunteer interests.
- Keep your resume recent and relevant.
- Limit your resume to one or two pages in length.
- Make it concise and easy to read.
- Use bullet points instead of paragraphs.
- Check for and fix spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.
- Include the URL to your LinkedIn profile (if applicable).
- Do not include personal data or photos.
- Use an identifiable file name (First.Last.docx or First initial.Last.docx).
MILITARY-SPECIFIC RESUME TIPS
- Avoid military jargon, as the majority of people will not understand.
- Explain job titles in civilian language. For example: Platoon Sergeant (Team Lead).
- Refer to your transition as a “separation from the service.”
- Use numbers to quantify your experience (size of platoon, dollars managed, value of equipment, etc.).
- Focus on transferrable skills such as leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, attention to detail, process and procedures, and situational awareness.
- Military spouses should identify as such, in order to explain job and location moves.
YOUR INTERVIEW: Getting the job.
Your resume is your chance to make a good first impression. But, the interview is where the job is won!
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
- Research the company on their website and career pages.
- Do an online search for recent company and industry news.
- See how the company performs in their industry and against competitors.
- Prepare a list of questions to ask during the interview.
- Reflect on your greatest strengths and be prepared to discuss them.
- Practice – do mock interviews.
- Dress appropriately for the company and job you are seeking.
- Use military time. Arrive 15 minutes early.
- Treat everyone you meet like they are the Commanding Officer.
- Give a strong handshake, smile, and maintain good eye contact.
- Sit comfortably without distractions. Avoid fidgeting or otherwise appearing nervous.
- De-militarize your skills/experiences and offer explanations of military terms.
- Many companies do first-round phone screens; they are an interview so take them seriously.
PHASES OF AN INTERVIEW
This is your chance to set the tone with a sort, interesting introduction.
Tell Me about Yourself
- This is your chance to share your story with a short, but interesting introduction:
“I grew up in ___. I decided to join the [military branch] because____. I had a great experience including___, and learned ___, ___ and ____. That brings me here today to learn more about [company] and your opportunity for [position].”
Question and Answer
- Be prepared for open-ended, behavioral questions about your previous experiences (“tell me a time when…” or “give me an example about…”).
- Give specific answers about your past experience by using the STAR technique: S – Situation/ T – Task/ A – Action/ R – Result.
- Pay attention to non-verbal cues and occasionally ask if your answer was detailed enough, or perhaps too detailed.
- Ask questions based on your research about the company and current industry events.
- Ask about the expectations of the position. For example: “Can you describe what success looks like for someone taking this position?”
- Develop a quick elevator speech to wrap up your key points:
“Based on my visit and discussions today, I am very interested in joining [company]. I believe my ___, ___, and ___ skills position me well to both learn from and contribute to the success of the organization. Is there anything more that I can tell you about my experience, or are there areas where you feel I am lacking?”
- Ask the interviewer about next steps and thank them for their time.
- Be sure to ask for a business card and send a thank you email promptly after the interview.
Chances are, interviews and boards that you have participated in throughout your military care have adequately prepared you to take on an interview in the civilian corporate world. Still, it’s always helpful to have a toolkit for reference. For additional interview tips, read our post about Behavioral Interviewing.