By: Jenny Day

Fox 8: Cleveland (Progressive Sponsored Content)

For many veterans, making the transition from the military to the civilian workforce can be difficult. In fact, a 2011 Pew Center study of 1,853 veterans showed about three in 10, which translates to 44%, said re-entry was difficult for them.

To help you get started, here a few tips for translating the skills you developed in the military to your career, courtesy of recruiting managers at Progressive Insurance:

From ‘We’ to ‘Me’

People in the military often recall pride stories of tough missions or projects, and the most pivotal element of the story is the people in the proverbial ‘foxhole’ with them. Being a part of a team is rewarding. Successful collaboration towards a shared goal is a powerful motivator and the ‘we’ mentality can be hard to shake because it feels good to be a part of something.

But when you’re looking for that first job post-military, recruiters and managers want desperately to learn more about something you may not be totally comfortable talking about: you. Prepare yourself, the word “I” is going to be creeping into your vocabulary a lot more than you’d like. Here’s why: recruiters need to know what *you’re* capable of. What unique skills and talents *you* possess that are the right fit for position X. The purpose of this information isn’t to diminish the importance of succeeding on group projects, but when you’re in the interview phase, you’re about as likely to have a teammate as Tiger Woods. So the take-away here is this: don’t lose your love of the team, just shelf it for a while and focus on what *you* bring to the corporate table.

Translating Your Skills

Looking through civilian job postings and shaking off the military terminology is about as easy as learning another language on your lunch hour. Over time, our recruiters have noticed a pattern in skill sets many people learn in the military that translates well to certain types of civilian jobs. Here are just a few examples.

• If you held a tele-communications position in the military, you probably excel at skills that would be a solid fit for an IT position or a help desk. Your work helping internal customers is highly beneficial. Something to keep in mind: Be sure you don’t leave your customer service experience off your resume simply because it’s inter-office focused. If a civilian recruiter unfamiliar with military terminology sees ‘Tel-Comm Support’ or ‘Internal Service Provider’ they might be unaware of the heavy focus on customer service. Additionally, if you had a prevalent writing component, consider public relations or internal communications.

• Were you a part of the military security team? Law enforcement or security positions are a logical fits but did you ever think about a career in the claims field? Your skills strengths involve an investigative element and being able to understand legal situations is imperative for being in the field and dissecting what happened.

• Personnel specialists within the military have similar skill sets to an office administrator or an HR assistant because you run the office day-to-day. If you excel at managing personnel issues, look into jobs for HR consultants or specialists.

• If you’re at a sergeant level, explore assistant manager, manager or supervision roles. Be sure to highlight your abilities to tackle personnel issues, make decisions and effectively lead others.

Additional resources for your career transition

• plug your Military Job Code into the system and get a list of civilian jobs that match those skill sets

• free veteran webinars

• general resource

• look for sample interview questions and styles. Progressive follows the STAR method.


Author’s Note

Progressive Corporation is committed to being a top employer for talented and passionate military veterans. Progressive has received recognition most recently in the Best for Vets Issue in the Military Times, and the 2012 issue of U.S. Veterans Magazine’s ‘Best of the Best’ Top Veteran Friendly Companies for our veteran-focused efforts to bring diverse talent into our workforce of 26,000 team members countrywide.

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