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Using the Right Lingo in Your Military to Civilian Job Hunt

Excerpted with permission from "Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide"
Janet I. Farley, author of "Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide"

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In addition to deciding the content for your resume, you have to decide what type of language to use, military jargon or everyday English. If you're targeting a job within the defense industry, feel free to use the military jargon to which you've become accustomed. The defense industry likes to hire employees who understand the lingo.

On the other hand, if you're targeting a job outside that arena, you may have to use everyday English. If you were to take someone who has never been exposed to life in the military and plant them in the middle of a typical conversation between service members discussing work, that person would probably feel as though he was a stranger in an even stranger land.

The military loves its acronyms. Once you get used to them, it's not so bad; however, civilian employers may not understand them at all. I've provided the following translations to assist you in crafting your resume and your speech. Not that some words or job titles may be clearly understood without changing them.

Common Translations
In the Military: Commander
In the Civilian World: Director/Senior Manager/President

In the Military: Executive Officer
In the Civilian World: Deputy Director/Assistant

In the Military: Action Officer
In the Civilian World: Senior Analyst

In the Military: Branch or Division Chief
In the Civilian World: Branch/Division Chief

In the Military: Program or Project Manager
In the Civilian World: Program or Project Manager

In the Military: General Officers
In the Civilian World: President/Senior Director/Chairperson/ CEO/COO/CFO/Senior Vice President/Executive Vice President

In the Military: Senior Field Grade Officer
In the Civilian World: Senior Administrator/Chief Executive/Department Head/Program Director/Deputy Chief/Senior Executive

In the Military: Field Grade Officer
In the Civilian World: Executive/Manager

In the Military: Company Grade Officers
In the Civilian World: Associate/Operations Manager/ Unit or Section Manager

In the Military: Warrant Officer
In the Civilian World: Director/Specialist/Department Manager

In the Military: Senior NCOs
In the Civilian World: Director/First-Line Supervisor

In the Military: Infantry
In the Civilian World: Ground Security Force

In the Military: Sergeant Major
In the Civilian World: Senior Advisor

In the Military: First Sergeant
In the Civilian World: Personnel Manager

In the Military: Squad Leader
In the Civilian World: Team Leader/Team Chief

In the Military: Supply Sergeant
In the Civilian World: Supply Manager/Logistics Manager

In the Military: Operations NCO
In the Civilian World: Operations Manager

In the Military: NCO
In the Civilian World: Supervisor/Manager

In the Military: OER/NCOER
In the Civilian World: performance rating/evaluation

In the Military: AI
In the Civilian World: additionally skilled in...

In the Military: AAM-ARCOM
In the Civilian World: award/recognition

In the Military: ANCOC/BNCOC
In the Civilian World: advanced (specialty) course

In the Military: battalion (BN)
In the Civilian World: unit/organization/agency

In the Military: headquarters
In the Civilian World: headquarters

In the Military: combat
In the Civilian World: conflict/hostilities/emergency/ highly hazardous conditions

In the Military: company
In the Civilian World: company/unit/department

In the Military: correspondence course
In the Civilian World: extension course/distance learning

In the Military: leader
In the Civilian World: supervisor/manager

In the Military: medal
In the Civilian World: award recognition

In the Military: military personnel office (MILPO)
In the Civilian World: personnel office

In the Military: mission
In the Civilian World: task/function/objective

In the Military: military occupation specialty (MOS)
In the Civilian World: career specialty

In the Military: platoon
In the Civilian World: section/element/department

In the Military: Platoon Sergeant
In the Civilian World: Supervisor/ Instructor/Trainer

In the Military: physical training (pt)
In the Civilian World: physical training

In the Military: reconnaissance
In the Civilian World: data collection/survey/analysis

In the Military: regulations
In the Civilian World: policy/guidelines/instructions

In the Military: security clearance
In the Civilian World: security clearance

In the Military: soldiers/airmen/marines/sailors
In the Civilian World: personnel/staff/employees/individuals/people

In the Military: subordinates
In the Civilian World: employees/personnel/staff/individuals/people

In the Military: Temporary Duty (TDY)
In the Civilian World: business trip/ temporary duty

In the Military: Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)
In the Civilian World: legal action/document

In the Military: TDA/MTOE
In the Civilian World: organizational structure/human and material resources

In the Military: Personnel Action Center (PAC)
In the Civilian World: personnel office

In the Military: AR/DA/NAV Pamphlets
In the Civilian World: policy/guidelines/rules

In the Military: team
In the Civilian World: team

In the Military: squad
In the Civilian World: section

In the Military: brigade
In the Civilian World: group/division

In the Military: battalion
In the Civilian World: division

In the Military: PLDC/BNCOC
In the Civilian World: leadership or advanced leadership development course

In the Military: Command and General Staff College
In the Civilian World: strategic management course

In the Military: War College
In the Civilian World: advanced strategic studies course


Janet Farley is the author of The Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide (Jist, Inc., 2004) and "Jobs and the Military Spouse, 2nd Ed," (Impact Pub., 2004). She can be reached at janetfarley@hotmail.com. She is also the JobTalk columnist for the European, Pacific & Asian Stars and Stripes. Mrs. Farley is also a contributing editor to Civilian Job News, a Militaryresumes.com publication.



Last Updated: 03/09/2009 - 4:31 PM


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