Career Center

The Career Center at The University of Michigan thanks you for your selfless service to our country.  

Transitioning from military to civilian life can be difficult and can feel overwhelming.  We are here to assist you with your transition to civilian life as it relates to career exploration and career preparation.  

Since your skills and experiences will most likely be different from that of a traditional student, it will be critical for you to translate those skills into terms and descriptions that are more relatable to a potential employer.  

While employers value your unique military experience, it is important to market those skills as relevant to "corporate America" to ensure you are a competitive candidate.  As a veteran, you will need to clearly make the connection between your military skills and the workplace on your resume, cover letters, and in interviews. 

Below are some veteran specific links that will help you with career exploration and preparation. If additional questions arise, look at our additional resources or schedule an appointment online to meet with one of our career advisors.  Some of the one-on-one appointment types we provide include:

For additional information regarding being a student veteran at The University of Michigan, visit the Veteran and Military Services website. 

Career Kit

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Developing a “Civilian-Friendly” Resume

To be competitive for jobs and internships outside of the military, you will need to translate your military experiences and skills to civilian terms on your resume. Regardless of your specific profession in the military, you developed and strengthened marketable skills for a civilian workplace.

Civilianize your resume

  • Brainstorm your career objective to guide your resume writing
    • Your career objective does not NEED to be written on resume
  • Remove “military lingo” from descriptions of experiences and replace with civilian terms
  • Review the “Resume Resources” page of The Career Center website for general resume tips and begin a draft

Identify relevant/transferable skills

  • Match your military skills and experience to civilian occupations using the Military-to-Civilian Occupation Translator from CareerOneStop
  • Identify the top 2-3 skills most relevant to your career objective/potential opportunities and identify your experiences that demonstrate those skills
  • Assess transferable skills gained during military career
    • Leadership, teamwork, multi-tasking, time management, etc.
  • Be sure to include specific examples of how/where you gained those transferable skills and be able to describe

Use resources for veterans in transition

Obtain your Verification of Military Experience and Training Document from the DoD Transition Assistance Program. This document lists your military job experience and training history, recommended college credit information, and civilian equivalent job titles

Contact the transition center for your military branch and the UofM Veteran and Military Services office for additional help during transition and

Tailor your resume to specific opportunities

  • As different opportunities arise and you plan to pursue them, tailor your resume to each of those opportunities keeping in mind relevancy of experiences and relevant skills. Relevancy trumps everything including chronology

Identify differences between military and civilian workplaces

  • Three main differences exist between civilian and military workplace environments and it is important to identify and prepare for these differences.
    • Communication style – Conversations in the military tend to be formal and to the point, while civilian communication styles may be more informal and conversational in nature
    • Efficiency – Civilian organizations tend to have multiple stakeholders contributing to the decisions being made instead o the top-down system seen in the military
    • Flexibility – The military benefits from having a strict structure in place, while many civilian workplaces benefit from offering employees flexible hours, schedules, and work locations

Schedule a “Resume Review” with The Career Center


Exploring Options

Exploring your career options involves gathering and evaluating information about you and the many career options available, in order to determine fit between the two.  To find what fits, you first need to know your story (skills, strengths, passions, values, etc.).  Second, you need to know about the careers you are considering.  There are many different ways to explore your options – be creative in how you choose to investigate your options.  Also keep an eye out for events or presentations that might be able to shed more light on the many options you have available and schedule an appointment with a career coach to further discuss your career options.

View the “Getting started/explore” page of The Career Center Website

Career Assessments

  • Use career assessment tools to help you when choosing a major or career
  • The Career Center offers the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory Assessment for a cost of $20 each for students and recent graduates

Research

  • You can find information about different careers across the Web.  In addition, you can find many UofM specific resources, such as career guides, on our website at careercenter.umich.edu
    • Onetonline.org and the Occupational Outlook Handbook are great resources for gathering career information

Making Connections

  • Now that you’ve done some research, try and talk with people who have experience in your field of interest through informational interviews

Job Shadowing

  • Get hands-on experience exploring different companies and/or industries

Create Your Four-Year Career Plan

  • See what things you should be doing and what info is most pertinent to you based on what year you are in

Schedule an “Exploring Options” appointment with The Career Center


Proactive Job and Internship Search Strategies

Being successful in the job and internship search process often requires a lot of research, preparation, and a bit of luck.  That being said, there are some proactive steps you can take to have a more successful experience. 

Define Preferences

  • What kind of position are you looking for?
  • In what industry?
  • Job vs. internship?
  • Available time commitment
  • Location?
  • Personal expectations (pay rate, duties, growth opportunities, etc.)

Identify current, required, and desired skills

  • Identify important transferable skills from previous involvements that are relevant to the opportunity being pursued
    • Examples include: Organization, communication, leadership, technical knowledge, multitasking
  • Strengthen skills required to be successful in the opportunity you are pursuing

Investigate/identify employers you like the best and focus energy on those employers

  • Let the preferences you have defined for yourself guide your investigation and identification of employers you like the best that will allow you to pursue those defined preferences
  • Learn as much as you can about target employer(s) and study the process used by target employer(s) to fill job openings
    • Website, blogs, Google searches, Google alerts, etc.

Start identifying actual positions within organizations

  • Begin identifying actual positions within organizations you have investigated and researched
  • Research companies thoroughly and contact directly with questions/concerns
    • 70-85% of all jobs never posted or advertised anywhere!
  • Handshake is a great starting place for you as a UofM student
  • Use popular job boards (Indeed, Simply Hired, Idealist) strategically
    • Who’s hiring? For what position? Where? This process is a less specific and targeted process

Network! Network! Network!

  • ~80% of jobs gotten directly through connections
  • Networking has been proven to be the best way to get a job, even though it often takes more initiative
  • Reach out to individuals doing what you want to do, where you want to do it, and start informational interviewing!
  • Connecting with alumni is a great start
    • LinkedIn “Find Alumni” tool is a great resource

Resume and cover letter time

  • Tailor your resume to each opportunities through the lens of relevancy of experiences and skills
  • Create a cover letter for each position with specificity for each organization and opportunity

Schedule a “Job/Internship Search” appointment with The Career Center


Interview Skills

An interview is usually a very important part of the process of finding a job. It often is the main deciding factor in whether or not you are ultimately selected for the position. It is an important connection between the people making the hiring decision and the job candidate, and it’s important to be well prepared.

Before the interview:

  • Do your homework – research the company thoroughly prior to your interview and learn as much as you can about them
  • If need be, “clean up” your social media
  • ~70% of hiring managers report checking social media avenues prior to making decisions
  • Prepare for “behavioral questions”
  • Prepare questions to ask the interviewer(s)

Day of/during the interview:

  • Day of:
    • Dress appropriately – Business professional is usually the standard
      • Rule of thumb: Always dress slightly better than the corporate dress code and the position you’re applying for dictates
        • If your job requires jeans and a t-shirt, go in pressed pants and a nice shirt, etc.
      • You want to look clean, pressed, well-groomed, go in pressed pants and a nice shirt
    • Be punctual
    • Be courteous and respectful to everyone you meet
    • When possible, make small talk with people in the organization
  • During:
    • Keep your responses focused and concise yet thorough
    • Be aware of body language
    • Be honest – don’t dance around difficult questions
    • Think out-loud on analytical questions to show your thought process
    • Always maintain professionalism
    • Be careful when discussing current/previous employer(s)
    • Avoid filler words like “umm…uhh…”etc. and instead, if and when needed, pause and collect thoughts, then deliver a strong answer
    • Avoid talking about compensation and benefits
    • Ask great questions to employers
    • Smile, stay positive, relax, be yourself, breathe, stay calm

After the interview:

  • Send a thank-you note or email within 24 hours of interview
  • Be diligent, not aggressive, in your follow-up(s)
  • When the time is appropriate, be a tactful negotiator

Schedule a “Mock Interview” with The Career Center 

Handshake

Handshake is The Career Center's online career management system. It allows students and alumni to connect with the career center and make appointments online, to view events happening on campus as it relates to career exploration and preparation, to view career fair information, and to search for and apply to thousands of part-time, full-time, and seasonal jobs and internships.   

How do I get started with Handshake?

  1. To begin using the system, login at umich.joinhandshake.com, enter your uniquename and password  
  2. Complete your "profile" to the best of your ability.
    1. This can be done by first going to "Documents" and uploading an updated resume.  Once your resume is uploaded, you can "Build Profile from Resume". 
  3. Explore!
    1. Spend time exploring events, fair information, employers, and jobs and internships.

Developing a "Civilian-Friendly" Resume

To be competitive for jobs and internships outside of the military, you will need to translate your military experiences and skills to civilian terms on your resume.  View the "Resume Resources" section of the website for additional information on crafting a strong resume.  

  • Real Warriors provides step-by-step information on translating military experience to civilian employment on a resume. 
  • Career One Stop and O-Net Online, sponsored by the U.S... Department of Labor, are tools to help you translate your military assignments into civilian occupations.  
  • Similarly to Career One Stop, the MONSTER Veteran Employment Center has a tool for translating your military skills, experience, and training into that of a civilian. 
  • Job-Hunt.org provides additional information on translating your military experience.

Veteran Specific Self Assessment and Exploration Resources

You've served your country, but what's next? Below are resources to help you assess your passions, interests, and experiences and understand how they could translate into a career.  For additional information and resources, visit the "Career Assessment Tools" section of the website.

Veteran Specific Job Search Resources

Below are links to veteran specific job boards.  During your job and internship search process, it's not a good idea to rely only on job boards, but they can be a good resource if and when used effectively.  Use them to understand who is hiring? For what position? Where?  While you can still apply to those positions through the job boards, keep in mind that it would still be a good idea to contact the company directly regarding the position.  

Interested in starting your own business? The Small Business Administration has a page devoted to entrepreneurial vets interested in starting their own business. 

Veteran Groups on Facebook and LinkedIn

Joining groups on LinkedIN and Facebook can be beneficial for many reasons including support, networking, resource sharing, learning, and potential job opportunities.  Below are a few LinkedIN groups and Facebook pages to consider. 

LinkedIn Groups:

Facebook Pages:

Recommended Reading

Your experiences are unique and perhaps not everyone will understand them.  Below is a list of recommended reading regarding transitioning to civilian life, the ups and downs of serving your country and returning home, and how to cope with potential difficulties. 

Transitioning to Civilian Life:

​           Dimitrios Jason Stalides           

  • Out of Uniform: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to Civilian Career Transition

           Tom Wolfe

  • Life After the Military: A Handbook for Transitioning Veterans

​           Janelle B. Moore

  • Military Transition to Civilian Success: The Complete Guide for Veterans and Their Families

​           Mary T. Hay, Lani H. Rorrer, James R. Rivera 

  • Transitioning from military to civilian life: how to plan a bright future now for you and your family

​           Merle Dethlefsen, James D. Canfield

  • Transition Strategies: An Aid in Transitioning from the Military to Civilian Life

​           Brenda Bush

  • Business Networking for Veterans: A Guidebook for a Successful Military Transition into the Civilian Workforce

           Michael Abrams, Michael Lawrence Faulkner, and Andrea Nierenberg

  • Down Range: To Iraq and Back

    Bridget C. Cantrell, Ph.D., and Chuck Dean

  • Courage After Fire: Coping Strategies for Troops Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and Their Families

    Keith Armstrong, L.C.S.W., Suzanne Best, Ph.D., and Paula Domenici, Ph.D.

  • Once a Warrior Always a Warrior: Navigating the Transition from Combat to Home Including Combat Stress, PTSD, and mTBI

    Charles W. Hoge, M.D.

  • After the War Zone: A Practical Guide for Returning Troops and Their Families

    Matthew J. Friedman, Ph.D. and Laurie B. Slone, Ph.D.

  • An Operations Manual for Combat PTSD: Essays for Coping

    Ashley B. Hart II, Ph.D.

  • War and the Soul: Healing Our Nation's Veterans from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

    Edward Tick, Ph.D.

  • Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming

    Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character

    Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D.

  • On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

    Dave Grossman

  • Moving a Nation to Care: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and America's Returning Troops

    Ilona Meagher