soldier.jpgI get letters like this all the time from individuals who devoted a big chunk of their lives to serving our country, but end up in a job abyss when they try to get work once they leave the military behind:

“I am a retired veteran with twenty two years military experience. I have two Bachelors degrees, however I cannot find a decent job. I send in my resume, but I do not get many call backs. If and when I do they are to say thanks for your interest in our company.”

This letter was from John, who left the military in 2005. He sounds like a hard-working, smart guy, but he can’t get a break when it comes to finding a job. It’s probably even gotten worse for ex-military folks with the tough economy, but too often employers don’t give enough weight to a job seeker’s military background.

I addressed this topic in a column a year ago, and I offered advice to veterans on how they could revamp their resumes and their approaches to interviews to help them out.

But, the bottom line is all of us should start to realize how much great experience veterans have. If we’re hiring managers, employees, CEOs, we all need to think, “hey, this guy or gal was in the military. They probably have the kind of training most job prospects will never have.”

Many have incredible leadership skills, and talk about pressure under fire. Many soldiers also have to be on top of the latest technology, as all the armed services use systems that would make most techies heads spin.

Military folks also have to do a bit of repackaging of themselves. One of the reasons employers are worried about hiring former soldiers is they believe they just can’t leave the Army, Navy, or Air Force behind. They want to know you can easily assimilate into the corporate culture. So, leave the “Yes, Sir!”, “Yes, Ma’ma!” at the interview door. And leave the military jargon off your resume. Make it as simplistic as possible so HR will not just toss your resume in the bin.

And I promise, I mean no disrespect by this. When I wrote similar things in my MSNBC.com column I got a lot of angry emails for people in the military that thought I was putting what they do and who they are down.

I’m not. I respect with all my heart what soldiers do. All I’m doing is trying to help you all with some reality-check career advice because there are people out there who will brush aside your military background, or even use it against you. Don’t let this happen. Be proud of your service and let them know you can adapt to any battlefield, even the corporate one.

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