Advancing National Service

Does Military Jargon Prevent Vets From Landing Jobs?

March 24, 2014
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Does Military Jargon Prevent Vets From Landing Jobs?
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Easter Seals Southern California thinks so.

MP. XO. AIT. This list could go on and on.

Military communications are often full of “alphabet soup” — choked with so many acronyms that it’s virtually impossible for someone who hasn’t served in one of the branches of service to understand what’s being said. In San Diego, the unemployment rate among veterans stands at a disappointing 10 percent, and representatives of Easter Seals Southern California wonder if part of the problem has to do with vets failing to translate the military jargon on their resumes into concepts that potential employers understand. 

Amita Sharma of KBPS interviewed John Funk, the director of military and veterans services for Easter Seals Southern California, about their WorkFirst Military & Family program to help vets find a good job in part by learning civilian-speak. He said, “The military speaks a different and unique language, full of acronyms. Part of the challenge with the transition of veterans is to get them to speak that language so that people can understand it.” On their resumes, vets should include “not just the direct job that they may have had while they were in the military, but they can also translate the soft skills that were associated with that — how they’re very goal-oriented, their leadership, their teamwork capability, their results-oriented approach to getting the job done.”

Funk says that Easter Seals also works with employers, advising them, “Don’t hire a veteran just because he’s a veteran. Hire a veteran because he has these great strong attributes he can bring to your organization.”

Every veteran who enters the WorkFirst Military & Family Program meets individually with Easter Seals volunteer and employees, who help them to define career goals and job-related skills. Then, vets receive assistance crafting a story about their work experience and their goals for the future using language that an employer will understand — both on their resumes and in job interviews. From there, job-seeking veterans are connected with employers.

For Tim Crisp, a Marine Corps veteran working with Funk, the help has been invaluable. He told Sharma, “John [Funk] gives me that customized experience, working with me to narrow down my focus to help me be more goal-oriented toward doing something that’s going to really fit for me…as a mentor and a coach, his experience helping others…has been very helpful.”

MORE: This Non-Profit Helps Paralyzed Vets Find Meaningful Jobs 

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