By Tom Moore, CEO and Co-founder of WithYouWithMe
All industries develop jargon. It’s a fact. From healthcare to education, public versus private, engineering, retail or hospitality, it’s common for communities of practice to develop their own lexicon. The military is no different. What is different is that a lot of terms have some commonality across most industries or at least some common thread. In contrast many of terms in the military simply aren’t used in industry.
For those about to transition out of military service it can be daunting to look for jobs and figure out what potential employers are seeking when you see a job advertised. Perhaps you haven’t been a job seeker for a decade or more? Perhaps the military was your only job after leaving school? Either way many the terms used in business may be completely unknown to you, or you aren’t proficient in “talking the talk”. The first hurdle is to understand what certain buzzwords mean. After that is the equally difficult task of explaining how your experience in the military is exactly what recruiters and employers are looking for.
This is no easy feat and I am far from an expert. However here are some simple tips to help you on your way, and a few examples of how your experience can be translated without using military jargon.
- Job hunting is a job. Accept that looking for a job is a like a job in itself. It takes time, commitment, know how and often other resources to help you land your dream role.
- Do your research. The internet is a wonderful resource. Be wary and make sure you only use reputable sites, but if you look hard enough you can find almost anything. Use popular recruitment websites, online industry journals and business dictionaries to get a feel for the terms people use and what they mean. Look up the words you commonly use and check what the business dictionary says it actually means to most people.
- Expand your horizon. Try to network with people in your target industry as much as possible. Join professional bodies, connect over LinkedIn and attend industry events. Just ask people for advice and talk through the jargon. Also speak to your friends and family. By combining the power of your network, you’ll find you have hundreds of years experience around you ready to be utilised.
- Prepare your CV and interview technique. Spend time comparing your military experience to the words you’ve come across and their meaning. Treat it as a deliberate exercise, because it’s obvious that you’re tap dancing and unprepared when you try to wing it. Once you’ve done this prepare your CV and describe your experience using industry terms and try to limit your military jargon.
- Get a second opinion and rehearse. Once you have a handle on using industry speak find someone you trust to look over your CV and check they understand. Then go through a role-played interview. It’s not silly. We rehearse military operations every chance we get. Why would helping you get the next job be any different?