Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Subtle Ways Military Veterans Can Begin the Transition to Civilian Life

Military veterans face a myriad of challenges when they begin their transition into the private sector workforce. I have talked in previous blog posts about translating your skills in both the resume and interview. However, I would like to explore some of the subtle ways you can demonstrate you are ready and able to make the transition into the civilian world. Remember, the point of this exercise is to show how you will fit right in, and often that is more psychology than fact!

Dates and Time
Although this may not be as easy as it sounds, begin to use the standard, civilian method of telling time when interacting with a civilian. Want to meet for an interview at 1300, you better explain to your civilian interviewer that you will be there at 1:00 pm. Additionally, in the military you state the day, then the month, then the year when writing your dates. Try to transition into month, day, year when stating your dates so that you will fit in better.

Drop the Alphabet Soup
Acronyms and military lingo are second nature for a military veteran. However, you can't use those same acronyms and terminology in a conversation with a civilian and expect them to be able to follow your meaning. Most every acronym you have used in the military will need to be translated in your conversations. For example, don't call yourself an NCOIC - civilians have no idea what that means. Instead call yourself the manager or team leader of whichever field of speciality in which you worked.

Ease up on the Formality
The combination of my knowledge of military terminology and my tendency to call everyone sir or ma'am has most people convinced I am a military veteran. I am not a veteran, I am simply polite. I am not suggesting you suddenly lose your manners. However, you may want to loosen up a bit in your communication style. It is okay to call people sir or ma'am in conversation, but do you need to do it every single time you answer a question in a conversation with them? Find a balance between casual conversation and polite manners so you don't intimidate people.

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