Posted on Jun 19, 2014
SGT Mitch McKinley
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It seems to me that unless you spent a number of years in the military, regardless of branch, and separated/retired as an officer/senior NCO, it is often difficult to get a serious look for management positions.
As an E-5 or E-6, you have been through leadership schools (i.e. WLC and BNCOC) and have leadership experience. Many times, that leadership is in a forward line unit or in a deployed environment. You understand how to lead effectively while accomplishing the mission and maintaining welfare and morale.
Yet the civilian world typically looks right past that and puts a young college graduate in the leadership position, effectively saying that a classroom education is more valuable than real world experience.

This may sound like sour grapes on my part, but it isn't. I have been blessed with a great career, after I separated.
I am just curious what others think about the topic.
Posted in these groups: Military civilian 600x338 Transition
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Responses: 16
COL Jason Smallfield, PMP, CFM, CM
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I understand the argument that military rank should be recognized in private sector employment. Part of the problem is institutional and part of the problem is individual.
- Institutional.
o The military does a poor job of advertising the benefits of military education and experience to the private sector.
o Military education and experience need to be more translatable to the private sector.
o The military needs to align professional military education with civilian certification where ever possible.
- Individual.
o Individuals need to "civilianize" their resumes in terms of duty titles, duties and responsibilities, and scope of accomplishments.
o Individuals need to advertise themselves better (security clearances, responsibilities, credentials, etc).
o Individuals need to better plan for post military employment whether after 5 years or 10 years. IE get higher education (BS, MS), get credentialed, or document their work experience through more than just evaluations).
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SSgt Gregory Guina
SSgt Gregory Guina
8 y
Sir you are spot on as a transitionong Service Menber ( I retire next year) I have been working on my resume. You need to be able to translate not only your skill set but also your recogition (awards) into terms that an employer understands. Saying you received an AAM or NAM means nothing to an employer. Stating that you recognized by the Secretary of the Army or Navy for (insert why you got award) is much easier for a civilian to understand. Platoon Sgt means nothing however stating that you were a supervisor of 40 personnel shows that you know how to lead a team. Also if you are in the military you need to take advatage of the educational benefits that are out there. Use TA and start working on degrees and certifications. Showing that you have worked on furthering your education as well as led in a position will make you much more marketable.
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PO2 Russell Gaede
PO2 Russell Gaede
8 y
Sir, I agree on both your points of it being both institutional and individual. As a business owner and former military, I understand how military skills can translate, however, many of my business colleagues do not. I have seen too many resumes focus on the fact there were military rather than focusing on the skills they learned while in the military.
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PV2 Pedro Rosario
PV2 Pedro Rosario
8 y
As squad leader in basic i ,I learned to use my leadership to communicate with my civilian peers i also receive a letter of commandation from basic. Has help me deal with my military career as food service specialist .
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MSG Martin C.
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Edited 8 y ago
To be honest none.... I think that service members erroneously assume that employers will value our experience and schooling from the service but very few actually do. Specially in corporations that believe on promotion from within now you are trying to walk in to a supervisor role as if they know what you done the past years or as if they actually care, remember many civilians don't even like the military or the war so that could actually play against you. It's all about what skills and qualifications you bring to the table? What makes you better than the other guy that just interview before you? And most important who you know who knows you? I learn so much when I was a recruiter a few years ago by interacting with the civilian population and other civilian recruiters during the job fairs it was really eye opening. There is no doubt that hiring a VET will have plenty of benefits for any organization but also remember that all VETs are not created equal and it's a very competitive world out there so my advice to all that still in the service it's to have a plan of what are they planning to do after their term it's up. Get as much certifications and experience as possible while you are still in and begin networking specially in the area you are planning to settle after your ETS. Most important be willing to begin at a lower level of what are expecting because your expectations may be higher than what the employer actually thinks of you.
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COL Vincent Stoneking
COL Vincent Stoneking
8 y
Quite honestly, it is all about using terms that resonate with the target audience. "squad leader, responsible for the training, morale and employment of a 12 Soldier Rifle Squad" means nothing. "Supervised and Responsible for the daily performance of a diverse 12 person team, in a dynamic and fast changing environment, with direct accountability of over $357K worth of equipment" - If you can actually TALK how that was true in the interview is something else entirely. Discuss your regular one on one counseling and mentoring sessions, how you helped them with skill advancement, education, professional opportunities, and you have a solid case.
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MSG Martin C.
MSG Martin C.
8 y
Absolutely correct Sir. Medical, Law and Technology usually translates to the civilian markets I actually read a report that mentions that the current generation of military Doctors and Nurses were above their civilian counter parts in their experience in trauma and severe injuries because of the war. My post was mainly aimed to those CMF that are super valuable for combat but not necessarily useful in the civilian sector i.e. Tankers, Combat Engineer, Fueler etc.
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PFC Zanie Young
PFC Zanie Young
8 y
It is even worse when you have had a security clearance and cannot talk about what you have done specifically because they had no need to know. The best I could do is generalize in a non-classified way about my job duties. It wasn't hard when I was in the military dealing with civilians.
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MSG Brad Sand
MSG Brad Sand
8 y
Zanie,

You can speak in general terms without stepping into problems with clearances. Then end the conversation ends, remind them you could tell them but then you would have to kill them.
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SGT Allison Churchill
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I don't think the companies are saying the classroom education is more valuable, it's just a different type of experience.

When I enlisted in the Army, I went in as a specialist, because I already had a B.S. in journalism. I was great at the public affairs aspect of my job, but often had to refer people to other soldiers as far as military questions went.

Even people who have always been working in the civilian world, if they change career paths, they often have to start lower on the ladder than they might have been previously. If you're a great leader, people will notice.
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CPT Air Defense Airspace Management (Adam) Cell Oic
CPT (Join to see)
8 y
SGT McKinley, your original sentiment, as I understand it, is that an E-5 or E-6 has leadership training and experience that should reflect a higher starting position in a civilian company. Although it sounds nice in theory, in practice I do not see that as a useful or realistic goal. We certainly as a Nation have the responsibility to take care of Veterans in and out of service. That being said, any civilian company, as LTC Stoneking has correctly stated, will inevitably choose the best candidate to fill positions. The best solution is for our military to better align our MOS and leadership schools and training to civilian fields and occupations. The absolute MOST marketable veteran (comparing those equal in rank only) is the veteran who has military certifications that translate to civilian ones. Even an officer or senior NCO leaving the service must be able to demonstrate to a civilian company how their experience, knowledge, skills, and character traits make them the best fit for a specific job. I think anyone would be hard-pressed to find even a very military friendly employer who will pass over a much better civilian candidate for a position in favor of a an under-qualified veteran, and for good reason. At the individual level, when considering leaving the service, I think the best advice is to have a plan that involves tying your specific expertise within the military to a related field, in which case your leadership capacity is a bonus and not the foundation.
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SGT Mitch McKinley
SGT Mitch McKinley
8 y
LTC Stoneking,

You are absolutely correct. If the individual applicant is not as qualified as another person, then don't hire them.
But what I am referring to is when the qualifications between the two are equitable, or if the veteran has years of experience and his competing with a college grad with no real world applicable experience.

And by earning the right, I was referring to veterans preference. Many employers, especially in government positions, have a point system for hiring, and veterans get additional points for their service, disability etc. But that is only applicable of the employer wants to make it so.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to preferences.
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COL Vincent Stoneking
COL Vincent Stoneking
8 y
SGT McKinley,
If the qualifications are equivalent, it is up to the veteran (or any other applicant) to make that clear to the hiring manager.

I have gone on about this at length in other posts, and won't bore the regulars here, but it is vitally critical to civilianize your resume, cover letter, and interview shtick. Not because of anti-military bias, but because if the hiring manager doesn't understand what you said, it's just the same as saying "yeah, I got nothin'." And most hiring managers don't know anything about the military that they didn't learn watching blackhawk down.

In the circles I run in, veteran status is seen as a plus when all other things are equal. I know there are places where that isn't true
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CW3 Dylan E. Raymond, PHR
CW3 Dylan E. Raymond, PHR
8 y
I recommend veterans become good at painting a picture in the head of the hiring manage and assume that the person knows absolutely nothing about the military.

I prospected a young high speed E-5 with both a Masters degree and a Bachelors degree. I was a little concerned why she did not pursue the officer route. So asked her what made you go enlisted....for two reasons I wanted to make sure she could hold her own when sitting with the hiring manager. The reason she went enlisted because she had a better student loan repayment going enlisted. To make a long story short the company loved her and she interviewed for two different roles. She also went into trading which is nothing she did in the military. She was just able to communicate her value to the business unit.
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