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Military Skills Translators Help Vets Land Appropriate Jobs

By Wes O’Donnell

Veteran, U.S. Army and Air Force. Managing Editor, In Military, In Space News and InCyberDefense.

For many civilians, the designation 11B or 2A553D might not mean anything. But to veterans, such identifiers represent years of rigorous training and education, as well as deep experience in their chosen career.

So how can veterans and employers sort through the military-specific nomenclature and find civilian jobs that build on veterans’ years of experience?

A veteran’s Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) rating or an Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) is a series of letters and numbers that represent career fields and sub-specialties that the military uses for easy categorization. For instance, an airman who worked as a Surveillance Radar Journeyman would have an AFSC of 2A553D.

Back in 1998, the U.S. Department of Labor set out to provide veterans with a Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) translator that would connect them to civilian job titles based on what they had done in the service.

Long-time military contractors like Lockheed or Boeing have special military skills translators built into their hiring portals to make recruiting veterans easier for both parties.

Typing the AFSC of 2A553D into Boeing’s translator tab returns no less than 36 open avionics positions within the company, everything from Aviation Maintenance Inspector to Aircraft Mechanic.

Nonmilitary Companies Have Recognized the Value of MOS and AFSC in Their Job Listings

But recently, nonmilitary contractor companies have recognized the value of translating an MOS or AFSC into a private company job vacancy. Many organizations, from Home Depot to Capital One, are getting in on the action.

Not to be outdone, Google recently announced that veterans can now type “jobs for veterans” and then enter their MOS directly into a Google search bar. They will then see relevant civilian jobs that require similar skills to those they used in the military. What’s more, the jobs that Google returns in its search results are geographically close to the searcher. Google has also made this capability available to any employer or job board to use on their own through the Cloud Talent Solution.

This has turned the world’s most popular search algorithm into any veteran’s personal military skills translator. This is a far cry from common recruiting practices only a decade ago. When I left the Air Force in 2007, I posted my resume on some of the most popular job boards of the time, CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com among others.

Then, an independent recruiter working on behalf of Siemens found me through what must have been an expensive and tedious search of resumes in those two job sites’ databases.

And while many corporate recruiters still seek talent that way, modern companies that leverage technology and recognize the value of bringing veterans to them through built-in military skills translators save precious time and money, bypassing a third-party recruiter and making it easier for veterans to seek employment directly.

Hiring Veterans is a Win For Everyone

Hiring veterans is one of the best things a business can do in 2020 and beyond. With their integrity, habitual goal orientation and a habit of diversity and inclusion in action, veterans are not just patriotic, they are a good investment for the company and the nation.

Military skills translators free veterans from the military-specific jargon and make it easier for hiring managers to understand what specific skills veteran candidates bring to the interview.

It’s a win for everyone.

About the Author: A veteran of both the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, Professor Wes O’Donnell is a highly sought-after presenter and filmmaker who has spoken at TEDx on data visualization and the U.S. Air Force Academy on leadership. Wes earned both his B.A. in international relations and his M.B.A. with a focus on IT management at American Military University, and he has served as a university ambassador since 2013.

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