From Boots to Suits: 5 Tips for Military Members Entering the Corporate World

Transitioning from the military can be challenging, between addressing technical and soft skills with employers to establishing a strong value and presence in any interview, but we can help you make it more manageable! With the amount of transition support group from your military branch, LinkedIn support groups and veterans networks, there is a lot of information out there. Buckle up for 5 quick tips on military-to-corporate transitions from a fellow veteran.

From Deployment to the Office

My name is Matthew Duarte. I had the privilege of serving a 6-year enlistment in the United States Army as a Military Police soldier in a combat support company, culminating as a team lead as a sergeant. When I was transitioning out of the military I was more uncertain and concerned about my future than I was when I was patrolling combat zones overseas. Below, I am sharing my top 4 facts designed to help fellow veterans enter the corporate world.

1. Update Your Resume! This is always my No. 1 tip for my fellow veterans. The professional workplace has a lot of difficulties understanding the language typically used in military resumes. When you mention your role in the military, your rank/grade, your performance reviews, citations or awards, the civilian world is simply puzzled when you use acronyms and military language. Stick to language that you would use with a newly networked peer who has no idea what any of our vernacular or acronyms mean. Metrics and industry language will be your best friends! This will save you and hiring managers time and potential confusion.

2. Learn the Language. To be able to effectively produce the best resume, and feel both comfortable and confident in an interview, it helps if you’re speaking the same language. If you’re interested in exploring a career at an organization like Gartner, read some of their job descriptions online and check out words they use! It’s completely fair to review the company’s language and utilize some company-specific jargon where it makes sense.

3. Brand Your Military Experience and Value. Nobody has the same experiences or some of the unique traits you’ve gained from your time in service. Own it! Your civilian competitors are leveraging every metric and task they were involved in during their internships and college events. You should, too! Veterans are dignified and humble, but your interview is not the time to keep all of your accomplishments and involvements a secret. Share what you did, and what value you think those things could add to the team! Leverage your role and your unit’s tasks and accomplishments.

4. Use Your Strategic Skills and Learned Soft Skills! At 22 you might have been directing flight traffic, or leading a large team that could range from a few to as many as 40 direct reports. You may be used to working with the equivalent of a C-suite officer from your time as a general’s or colonel’s assistant. There is so much room to translate your experiences into corporate language so that you can show off your true value and expertise!

5. Make Friends and Network! I can’t stress this enough, as it’s something I failed at doing early on. I used to think that networking meant something entirely different than what it really is. If you meet someone and have a conversation, don’t be afraid to connect with them on LinkedIn or give them a quick call just to thank them for their time. I was able to succeed because I left my comfort zone, just like we all did in the military, so shake some hands and smile or share a story from your time in the service!

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