Beyond Jargon: Learning ‘Civilianese’ Is Key to a Successful Job Search

Beyond Jargon: Learning ‘Civilianese’ Is Key to a Successful Job Search
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Removing military acronyms and service-specific jargon from your application materials may seem like a basic step in the transition to civilian employment – and one that’s frequently covered across multiple websites dating back many years.


But spelling out “XO” or “OER” or “TRANSCOM” or any of the endless stream of capital letters encountered in a typical uniformed services career may not be enough.


“I think that this is the first time in all of history where … the majority of the people who are working in recruiting, not only do they not have parents that have served in the military, but many even have grandparents that have not served in the military,” Jo Weech, Head of Talent at Teracore, said during a recent MOAA webinar. “It’s really important to make sure that whole generation of people who are working to recruit you will understand a little bit better without having any confusion.”


[WEBINAR ARCHIVE: How to Make Yourself More Visible to Recruiters (Exclusive to Premium and Life Members)]


For transitioning servicemembers seeking private-sector positions outside the service sphere, Weech suggested a few swap-outs for military terms some might see as universal. Not only will these be easier to understand for some audiences, they help translate service-acquired skills and situations into a civilian environment. Some examples:

  • “Combat-Ready” can translate to “Emergency Preparedness”
  • “Fighting Forces” can translate to “Skilled Response Teams” or “Highly Trained Personnel”
  • “Deployment” can translate to “Overseas Assignment”
  • “Ammunition” can translate to “Supplies”


“This is not because you need to have any kind of hesitation about what you’ve done,” Weech said. “It’s just about communicating in a manner that will help to eliminate bias going forward.”


Weech discussed other ways to battle military bias and stereotypes later in the webinar, which also included:

  • Websites and tools to assist your job search.
  • How to build your career “advisory board,” and how MOAA can assist with career counseling options.
  • How the right social media presence and interactions can improve your job search.


Want more webinars? Visit MOAA’s Webinar Archive for recorded content relevant to your job search, your military benefits, and much more. Need more career advice? Visit MOAA’s Transition and Career Center for up-to-date career news and member-exclusive career assistance.


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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and Follow him on Twitter: @KRLilley