When Your MOS Doesn’t Match Your Career Ambitions
September 19, 2019 by Paige Brown
Even though transitioning to a civilian career might be challenging, if the job you’re interested in is similar to the role you had in the military, your future path could be pretty straightforward. But what if you don’t want to do the same type of job you did in the service? Or what if your MOS just doesn’t “translate” into a typical civilian job? Then, your path can seem a lot less clear – in fact, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
Before you let discouragement and frustration get the better of you, consider this: Most jobs, whether they translate directly into civilian life or not, still involve specific skill sets that can be quite valuable to many employers. Focusing on those skills – and maybe adding a few new ones into the mix – is probably all it’s going to take to get you into a career you’ll find interesting and fulfilling.
Identifying your value
Most people think that in order to get a job, they have to have experience in the same field. But that’s not always the case. When you’re making a military transition to civilian life, the key is to demonstrate that you have specific desirable skills that could be very valuable to your new employer. When it comes to the military, you’ve already got a lot going for you. Most employers – even those that don’t specifically offer civilian jobs for veterans – view the military as a disciplined environment, and that means they know you’ve already got a lot of pluses going for you. Think about all of your “jobs” during your military career, then really drill down and make a list of all the tasks, duties, and responsibilities you handled. Once you’ve got your list, think about how these skills and activities translate into job qualifications. Specifically, look for ways to demonstrate some key traits most employers are looking for, like:
- Leadership, management experience, strong interpersonal skills, mentoring others
- Strong time management and organizational skills, goal-directed
- Works well independently and as part of a team, ability to adapt to new challenges and new situations
- Self-discipline, ability to set goals and complete tasks with minimal direction, quick learner
- Ability to work with people from different backgrounds and with different skill sets
These are skills pretty much any employer would love to have in a new employee. The key is to use examples from your own career to demonstrate specific skills then, when crafting your cover letter (and during the interview), showing how those skills can be assets to the position and to the company.
Look into certifications
Depending on the field you’re interested in, you may not need a “whole” degree to turn yourself into a desirable candidate. Sometimes, all it takes is a few special skills to help you stand out. Today, a lot of valuable certifications are available through online work, including certifications in project management, IT, and Google’s products. (In fact, many of Google’s certifications are free – you just pay for your exams.) Sites like edX and Coursera offer online specifications which, while they don’t confer college credit, can help you develop new skills and “polish-up” existing skills so they’re more relevant in civilian positions.
Ace the resume. And the cover letter. And the interview.
It’s not as hard as it sounds. It just takes some research and preparation. Truly, if you take the time and make the effort to tailor your resume and your cover letter to the employer with whom you’re interviewing, you’ll already be ahead of a lot of your competition – even when you might not be the ideal fit for the job. That’s because all too often, job applicants take the easy route and use copy-and-paste templates or recycle the same cover letter from one job to the next. Your cover letter is like a mini pre-interview. It gives you a chance to position yourself favorably even before you get in the door, so you need to really take the time to refine it and target it towards the needs of your employer. Use your letter and your resume to really show how your specific skills and experience relate to the position and make you a desirable asset to the company as a whole. Not sure you can pull off a great resume and cover letter? The advisors at Heroes Linked can help. They can also help you prepare for your interview, and you can find plenty of tips and resources online, too. Remember: The more you prepare, the more relaxed you’ll be during your interview – and that means you’ll be ready to answer questions and appear more professional, too.
Veterans Career Transition Program
So what’s the take-home here? When you’re interested in working in a different industry, you need to make it crystal clear that you’ve got qualifications that are directly applicable to the position – and that you’re entirely capable of performing the job’s duties. The good news is, even two seemingly disconnected industries have a lot of the same needs when it comes to employees. Focus on your strengths, show specifically how they translate, tailor each resume and cover letter, and above all, be prepared and confident during that interview. Before you know it, you could score a whole new career.
And for more help (and plenty of support), get in touch with one of the advisors here at Heroes Linked. As a top-rated military transition program, we offer an array of veterans transition support options focused on your unique needs – and your future. Click here to get started today.