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Mission: Your Next Job 

MILFORD, Mass.  – Beth Costa, program manager, Veterans' Employment & Training Program, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, addresses Service members in a resume writing class at the Massachusetts National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters, Milford, Mass., Mar. 21, 2012. The purpose of the class was to help Service members translate their military experience into language a civilian employer could understand. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jerry Saslav, Massachusetts National Guard Public Affairs)

By Staff Sgt. Jerry Saslav, Massachusetts National Guard Public Affairs 

MILFORD, Mass.   “You’re still going to have to look at finding a job as a mission,” said Beth Costa to the Service members seated before her, “ Even employers that want to hire veterans … just because you’ve deployed and you’ve come back … that isn’t alone going to do it for you. Their bottom line is how are you going to make them money.”

The Service members who had gathered at the Massachusetts National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters, were all facing their next mission; finding a civilian job. One thing that is necessary to successfully complete this mission is the resume and how to translate military experience into terms a civilian employer can understand. This is what brought Costa, the program manager from the Commonwealth’s Veterans’ Employment & Training Program, and some members of her team here, today.

The Service members in the class were a diverse group of officers and enlisted; some of the troops had recently returned from overseas, others were getting ready to retire from the service.

“A lot of Soldiers are losing opportunities for the jobs that are out there because the civilian world does not understand the military,” said 1st Lt. Tania Sang Carter, Community Outreach Program Manager, Massachusetts National Guard. 

This resume class is just one part of a renewed statewide effort by the Guard, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Committee Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to help provide veterans with employment. These programs are not new; when a Guardsman leaves the military or when they return home from being overseas, they are exposed to the services Costa and her team provides. With the economy being as it is, this current effort aims to remind Servicemembers what is available and help those who want a career to find one.

The first step in this process is the resume and sometimes this is the biggest obstacle a veteran faces. How does a military skill translate into the civilian world?  Costa suggests carefully looking at the job requirements and finding how your military experience fits.

For example: a sergeant just returned from Afghanistan where he led patrols protecting supply convoys from being attacked. While the Soldier might proud that nine out of ten missions were accomplished, now that he is home, he feels that his job prospects are limited.  Costa points out that most military navigation systems are computer based, so the sergeant has experience operating complex computer systems; being able to read the manual for the navigation system demonstrates an ability to read and comprehend technical documents.

“You could also say ‘Nine out of ten missions completed successfully … objective completed’,” said Costa, “Ninety percent production completed. Does that sound the same? No. But it’s in terms an employer will understand.”  

Also the sergeant should not ignore the gear he used.

“What was the dollar value of your squad’s equipment that you were responsible for?” asked Costa, “You have to … translate it to product, percentages and numbers.”

Costa stressed that a while a veteran should not write just one resume, every resume should be tailored to each job opening; they also need to remember that while many employers want to hire veterans, there are many people still looking for work.

“You can’t just rely on ’You’re a veteran’,” said Costa, “You have to rely on the skills you learned in the military.”