Putting Your Military Experience to Work

Maj. Evangeline Vida, 28th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical flight commander, takes notes during a Transition Assistance Program class in the Airmen and Family Readiness Center on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.
Maj. Evangeline Vida, 28th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical flight commander, takes notes during a Transition Assistance Program class in the Airmen and Family Readiness Center on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 26, 2012. (Airman 1st Class Kate Thornton/U.S. Air Force photo)

"Leadership traits and knowing how to work effectively with a team to accomplish goals are two important factors for members of the military transitioning into the civilian workforce," said Alison, a program manager for Aerojet Rocketdyne.

She also points out that what she learned in the military, tied to her skill set and training, allows her to make a difference in focusing on our capabilities to protect and defend as well as serve our country. She looks at what she has done with companies like Raytheon and now Aerojet Rocketdyne as the "next logical steps" after all that she accomplished in her 20-year career in the Air Force.

Alison made the transition to working in the aerospace industry fairly easily, but she knows matching military skills to those in civilian jobs can be a challenge. Alison applied for a job at Aerojet Rocketdyne through the company's rocket.com website.

While she knew of the company, she didn't know anyone who worked there. Here is what she feels made an important difference in landing her position: "You need to look for a position you think you could do really well in and one for which you are passionate. And while in many cases, there aren't 'clean fits,' there are skills or talents you bring that translate and will enable you to do a great job for the company. You just have to show -- in your resume and your job interview -- that what you know and have learned in the military applies to what is needed to be successful in the job."

She also points out the importance of tailoring your resume to address the key requirements of the position.

Born in the Midwest and raised in St. Louis, Alison attended the University of Michigan on an ROTC scholarship that led to her working in Air Force Space Command. Alison feels fortunate to have had an interesting military career and is now doing much of what she did in the military, making America stronger and safer.

Resume Writing Tips

Outline and content are important. Organize your resume so that it is easy to read. Use specific content to demonstrate how you accomplished the mission. Shed some light on your method of execution. For instance, to show you are "results-oriented," indicate on your resume how you were resourceful and reduced your program's budget by X percent within a year or increased the productivity by X percent compared to previous years, or "introduced new procedures that reduced the production time approximately 10%."

List responsibilities of your previous jobs and demonstrate the outcomes. An employer cares how what you did can apply to the job being offered. You can also indicate:

  • Are you the most senior member of your team?
  • Do people turn to you for the more challenging issues?
  • Is your productivity level higher than your peers?
  • Is your level of accuracy and the quality of your work at the highest level?
  • Have you demonstrated the ability to meet aggressive deadlines?

Statements like "consistently recognized for delivering quality results at less cost than budgeted" showcases your effectiveness even when you don't have the actual numbers.

Use bold titles and headings. For example:

  • Objective
    • Focus on your desired job title. Use phrases such as "Seeking full-time position in ..."
  • Education
    • Include colleges where you have obtained or are working on getting a degree. List the official name of your degree, your major, the month and year of your graduation.
    • May include GPA
    • List related coursework
  • Skills/traits (e.g., computer skills, specific skills gained through military experience, such as leadership, teamwork, strong work ethic, commitment, dedication, takes initiative ...)
  • Experience
    • List job title/grade, dates of employment.
    • Use bullet format to indicate responsibilities. Start each bullet with an action verb.
    • Include skills used or skills developed.

"The strength of our military depends upon the strength of our defense and aerospace industries," Alison said. "As a member of the Armed Forces, and now, as part of the Aerojet Rocketdyne team, it's exciting to see the contributions that we are making in strengthening our defense posture and to be a part of Aerojet Rocketdyne during this time of growth. For anyone considering transitioning from the military to Aerojet Rocketdyne, I would say, 'Go for it!' Aerojet Rocketdyne is a fantastic company, which embraces many of the same core values as the military! I'm currently working to find a good fit at Aerojet Rocketdyne for another Air Force Veteran. My work at Aerojet Rocketdyne allows me to support those who are supporting the warfighter."

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