Talking to civvies – change your jargon

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Defence is swimming in jargon and acronyms.

But, all industries develop their own jargon. From healthcare to education, public versus private, engineering, retail or hospitality, it’s common for sectors and even individual communities to develop their own lexicon.

A lot of terms have some commonality across most industries or at least some common thread. But, many of the terms we used to use in the military simply aren’t used in industry.

For those about to transition out of military service it can be daunting to look for jobs and figure out what potential employers are seeking when you see a job advertised.

Perhaps you haven’t been a job seeker for a decade or more? Perhaps the military was your only job after leaving school? Either way, many of the terms used in business may be completely unknown to you, or you aren’t proficient in ‘talking the talk’.

The first hurdle is to understand what certain buzzwords mean. After that is the equally difficult task of explaining how your experience in the military is exactly what recruiters and employers are looking for – but without using the old, familiar military lingo you are so used to.

This is no easy feat and I am far from an expert myself.

But, here are some simple tips to help you on your way, and a few examples of how your experience can be translated without using military jargon.

 

  1. Job hunting is a job. Accept that looking for a job is a like a job in itself. It takes time, commitment, knowhow and often other resources to help you land your dream role.
  2. Do your research. The internet is a wonderful resource. Be wary and make sure you only use reputable sites – especially your potential new employer’s – but if you look hard enough you can find almost anything. Use popular recruitment websites, online industry journals and business dictionaries to get a feel for the terms people use and what they mean. Look up the words you commonly use and check what the business dictionary says it actually means to most people.
  3. Expand your horizon. Try to network with people in your target industry as much as possible. Join professional bodies, connect over LinkedIn and attend industry events. Ask people for advice and talk through the jargon. Also, speak to your friends and family, especially if they haven’t served in the military. By combining the power of your networks, you’ll find you have hundreds of years experience around you, ready to be used and learnt from.
  4. Prepare your CV and interview technique. Spend time comparing your military experience to the words you’ve come across and their meaning. Treat it as a deliberate exercise. It will be obvious that you’re tap dancing and unprepared if you try to wing it. Once you’ve done this, prepare your CV and describe your experience using industry terms and try to limit your military jargon.
  5. Get a second opinion and rehearse. Once you have a handle on using industry speak find someone you trust to look over your CV and check they understand what you’re trying to say. Then go through a role-played interview. It’s not silly. We rehearse military operations every chance we get. Why would helping you get the next job be any different?

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WithYouWithMe cofounder and CCEO Tom Moore

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By Tom Moore, CEO WithYouWithMe, a leading Australian veteran employment agency.

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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

2 thoughts on “Talking to civvies – change your jargon

  • 14/10/2017 at 6:48 am
    Permalink

    How times have really changed..In the Eighties job hunting and changing jobs wasn’t an issue..The moment you advised you had military experience (Regular or Reserve) you were hired..Why? Because most managers/proprietors were ex- military/CMT/National Service people themselves and they knew the calibre of person they were getting.
    Today’s employers look twice at you now if you’re in the Reserves or even if you’re a volunteer fireman/woman and the one’s I have come across won’t hire you..because you leaving their job for training or attending emergencies puts a strain on other staff and effects business profitability apparently..Loyalty and job security , means nothing these days, plus businesses don’t offer incentives to staff and employers complain about the type of people who they employ..no wonder productivity is severely curtailed? If I had a Business I’d know what personnel I’d employ immediately and they’d be allowed to keep their military jargon..

    Reply
    • 14/10/2017 at 10:23 am
      Permalink

      I can’t disagree with your arguments Bruce.
      I’d also add another reason…. back in the 80’s, Defence was a stay-at-home training institution. Today it’s just come out of ‘the longest war’. So, while the perception in the 1980’s may have been that soldiers were well trained and trained and trained – today, while they are undoubtedly well trained, there could well be an assumption that the training was purely war-focused – aggressive. Add in a suspicion/fear of PTSD and….!
      That said, I also agree with Tom Moore. If you are entering the jobs arena, you have to accept your new mission and adapt your tactics and language accordingly.

      Reply

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