Welcome to Michigan! The University Career Center is committed to being a partner to our student veterans on campus. We look forward to helping you prepare for your next steps after Michigan and to help you build on the skills, experiences, and talents you have already gained through your experiences.
Transitioning from military to civilian life can come with challenges and can sometimes feel overwhelming. Don't worry- we're here for you for you career exploration and preparation.
You're coming in to U-M with strong skills and experiences, but it will be critical for you to translate those skills into terms and descriptions that are relatable to a civilian employer.
While employers value your unique military experience, they may not understand the jargon or the responsibilites you've held, so it is important to market those skills in a relevant way on your resume, cover letters, and in interviews.
Below are some veteran specific links that will help you with career exploration and preparation. If other questions arise, look at our additional resources on our websites or schedule an appointment online to meet with one of our career advisors. Some of the one-on-one appointment types we provide include:
- Exploring Career Options
- Job and Internship Search
- Mock Interview (Behavioral)
- Resume/Cover Letter Review
- Career Assessments and Test Interpretations
For additional information regarding being a student veteran at The University of Michigan, visit the Veteran and Military Services website.
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.
Use your Resources
- Check out the VA's Employment Toolkit for information about translating your experience, upcoming veteran career fairs, and more.
- MyNextMove, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, is a tool to help you translate your military assignments into civilian occupations.
- 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
Civilianize your resume
- Brainstorm your career goals to guide your resume writing. Think: what kind of job tasks will I be doing? What industry will I be applying for?
- Note: You do NOT need a career objective written on your resume
- Remove “military lingo” from descriptions of experiences and replace with civilian terms
- Review the “Resume Resources” page of the University 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
- The top sought after competencies are: Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, Oral/Written Communication, Teamwork/Collaboration, Digital Technology, Leadership, Professionalism/Work Ethic, Career Management, Global/Intercultural Fluency
- When proving these skills on your resume, be ready to include specific examples of how/where you gained those transferable skills and be able to describe them using the bullet plus model
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
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.
View the “Getting started/explore” page of The University Career Center Website
- Use career assessment tools to help you when choosing a major or career. Check out the tools on MyNextMove to explore options and see how your military job relates to civilian occupations.
- The University 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. The CliftonStrengths assessment is offered for $10. Scholarships are available.
- You can find information about different careers across the Web. In addition, you can find many U-M specific resources, such as career guides and career tracks, on our website at careercenter.umich.edu
- Talk with people who have experience in your field of interest through informational interviews. UCAN (University Career Alumni Network) is your go-to source for finding alumni who are willing and ready to chat with you for an informational interview.
- Get hands-on experience exploring different companies and/or industries through a job shadow.
Create Your U-M Career Plan
- Identify the experiences you should engage with during your time at U-M (coursework, jobs, internships, clubs, volunteering, etc) to build the skills you'll want to have when you graduate.
- Undergraduates should check out our Four Year Career Plan.
Schedule an “Exploring Options” appointment with the University Career Center
- Come in to meet with a career coach. Connect early-- you don't even have to know the questions to ask to come chat. We'll help you strategize your plan and make sure you're using your resources to connect with opportunities.
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.
- What kind of position are you looking for?
- In what industry?
- Job vs. internship?
- Available time commitment
- 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
- UCAN is U-M's platform for connecting students to alumni for informational interviews
- LinkedIn “Find Alumni” tool is a great resource- you can find this tool by going to the University of Michigan school page and clicking on "alumni"
Resume and cover letter
- 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 University Career Center
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 more professionally than the dress code for the position you're interviewing for
- Be punctual
- Be courteous and respectful to everyone you meet
- When possible, make small talk with people in the organization
- Dress appropriately – Business professional is usually the standard
- 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
- 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 University Career Center
Handshake is The University Career Center's online career management system. It allows students and alumni to connect with the University 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?
- To begin using the system, login at umich.joinhandshake.com, enter your uniquename and password
- Complete your "profile" to the best of your ability.
- 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".
- Spend time exploring events, fair information, employers, and jobs and internships.
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.
- Veterans Employment Center
- Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency
- Veteran Job Mission
- Recruit Military
- Hire A Hero
- Hire Heroes USA
- HERO 2 HIRED
- MONSTER Veteran Employment Center
- FEDS HIRE VETS
- Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS)
- Civilian Jobs
- Job Opportunities for DisABLED Veterans
- Military Vet Jobs
- Veterans Enterprise
- The Riley Guide
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.
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:
- Common Challenges During Re-Adjustment Checklist & How to Help
- College Veteran Transition Stories: The Use of Weblogs to Explore Military-To-College Transition Narratives
Dimitrios Jason Stalides
- Out of Uniform: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to Civilian Career Transition
- 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
- 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
Moving a Nation to Care: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and America's Returning Troops