For veterans at DU, we offer:
- access to our Pioneer Career Network, where you can find a mentor, request an informational interview and more.
- personalized career counseling and career assessment tools (interests, values and personality inventories).
- resume and cover letter writing resources.
- on- and off-campus career fairs and events.
- a variety of career-focused workshops.
- access to a range of job and internship listings.
- career change support and resources.
7 Tips for Moving From Military to Civilian Jobs
Time to rephrase your experience
By John Heckers, 2012
As our wars, thankfully, wind down, many folks in the military are making a transition to civilian life. It isn't easy.
Here are a few tips that might help.
Rephrase your experience.
Put all of your experience in terms that civilians can both understand and appreciate. Some military skills are only useful in the military but most have a civilian counterpart. The trick is to make sure that the civilian interviewer understands how these skills are portable.
Make sure that the employers understand the current military culture.
Many people who have not recently (or ever) served assume that being in the military means mindlessly taking or giving orders. Today's military personnel are expected to think for themselves, make rapid decisions utilizing good judgment, and be highly technological. Your résumé and interview must stress this for those who do not understand.
The civilian hiring experience is different.
One of the nice things about the military is that, when you're up for promotion, your experience and skills are pretty clear to the officer who is considering you. They're going to have a pretty good idea of where you've been and have fitness reports, and so on. This is not true in civilian life. You'll need to spell it out for the civilian hiring authority.
Interviews are different.
Interviews in the civilian world are based much more on "click" than simply qualifications. They'll be looking at cultural fit, personality fit, and, generally, how you'll fit into the company.
Corporate cultures vary widely.
While the "culture" of the military has some variance depending on the commanding officer, there is a universal "military culture." This is not true in civilian life. Cultures can range anywhere from rigidly hierarchical to very loose with little structure. Be sure you know your degree of comfort for each culture before you accept a position.
Utilize your network.
There are many ex-military personnel in the civilian world. Most will be very willing to help you. Go to events where you can meet these folks. Sign up on LinkedIn and do a search for ex-military personnel in your area and ask for help. The DU Pioneer Career Network can also be helpful. This group of alumni, parents and friends of DU are committed to helping students with career development and they want to hear from you!
Don't expect your skills to be automatically appreciated.
The military tells those exiting about all of the valuable experience they've received in the military and how easy it will be to get a job in civilian life. Well, you DID gain valuable experience, but don't expect it to be easy to get a job in the civilian world, especially if you've been career military. Make the connections between military experience and the skills requested for the civilian job very clear.
Contact Career Services to learn more or schedule an appointment.
Career Resources for Veterans
Colorado Division of Veterans Affairs—the state agency mandated by state statute to assist veterans
College Success Field Manual for Women Veterans—prepared by students from the University of Denver Women's College, 2012
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve—supports all veterans in the area of job development
Helmets to Hardhats—a national program that connects National Guard, Reserve and transitioning active-duty military members with quality career training and employment opportunities within the construction industry; the program is administered by the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment, and Veterans Employment, and headquartered in Carlsbad, Calif.
Hire Heroes USA—offers transition assistance, job search assistance, and job placement services to those who have honorably served in the U.S. military, and to their spouses; Hire Heroes USA's services are provided at no cost to the veteran.
Hero 2 Hired—a Yellow Ribbon reintegration program
JOBS for VETERANS Program—Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, this program is designed to help veterans find the job that best utilizes their skills. JOBS for VETERANS provides free individualized services to veterans such as job placement, education and skills training funds, and one-on-one support.
MILITARY Cross-Walk DOT—See how the Department of Labor translates military jobs skills into civilian positions.
Military to Medics—Minnesota Ambulance Association's Paramedic Apprenticeship Program; the EMS Apprenticeship program will provide veterans with apprenticeship and educational opportunities, allowing them to fill the need for EMS personnel in Minnesota.
Troops to Teachers—a U.S. Department of Education and Department of Defense program that helps eligible military personnel begin a new career as teachers in public schools where their skills, knowledge and experience are most needed
Veterans Job Bank—Part of the National Resource Directory, the job bank links veterans with companies that want to hire them. By entering an MOS/MOC code or searching by keyword an individual can connect with information about available job openings in a specific geographic region that may fit their military experience.
Veterans.Jobs—uses the Military Occupational Classification (MOC) Crosswalk to assist military personnel in transitioning from active duty to employment opportunities in the civilian workforce
VetJobs—This is a job board for reaching the 14 million military veterans currently in the work force, as well as the 250,000 active duty military personnel who transition each year, and their family members. VetJobs is an excellent source for candidates in information technology, program and project management, sales, linguists, logistics, transportation, human resources, manufacturing, engineering, finance, health care, and accounting, and senior executives.