Question on LinkedIn:  I’m in the process of transition from the HR field in the Military. I trying to get my foot in the HR in the civ sector. I thinking about taking a IT course. Will that help me with getting a job?

Other’s Response:

– I am a strong believer in any IT training as a beneficial tool toward a company seeing your worth. If that training provides successful accomplishments that can be included on your résumé, then even more of an enhancement.  If you are specifically interested in HR, seeking your PHR an additional plus. But many organizations may start you out as an HR Assistant and train you to be an HR Specialist (e.g. The USG) on their time at their expense. Then you can get your PHR later ( on your own dime usually) but the USG sometimes will sponsor it as an external training item, with a commitment from you to stay employed for x amount of time as a type of repayment.

– I think you are going about your search in the wrong way. Unfortunately, corporate people don’t equate military or public sector experience to corporate experience. In light of that reality, you should leverage your skills and not your experience in getting into a great company. Once there, you can develop your relationship with the HR people and hopefully get a chance to move into HR in the future. Concerning degrees, yes they do matter. But do not spend your money on education unless you have determined how its going to help you get to where you want to go. Be smart about your career.

– There is a huge misconception in the corporate NON HR world that all HR does is hire/fire. And even within the corporate HR world, it seems that many feel that miltary “HR” is either “HR-lite” since HR Professionals in the military do not have hir/fire authority. (We all know that HR is so much more than hiring and firing, but from what I’ve found is that there is a bias against this nation’s heros who spent many years in a frustrating and unenviable position of having to deal with difficult and/or obstinate people whose employment you cannot terminate, or even petition to have terminated. As a Military HR Professional, you also have no input in who will be on your HR team. You get what you get, and you find creative ways to work with people of all sorts. It seems like my 6 years of corporate HR experience a decade ago, trumps my 12 years of Military HR, even though 6 of those 12 years were more recent than the 6 years in the private sector. Many of us put our careers on hold, raised our hands and went off to do what others wouldn’t, and instead of being treated like patriots, many of us are treated like “yeah but that was military HR, doesn’t count” Stings a little bit…

My Take:

Make sure your resume is updated with civilian terminology!

And someone even agreed with me right away on the forum!

Agree with Matt. This is hugely important to gain/maintain credibility – make sure you translate your resume to civilian terms and do the same in interviews (ex. “missions” vs. “projects/plans”). At best, the military terms can be confusing for the corporate world, and may make your experience seem less relate-able. Also learn what you can about areas that you don’t have experience with – perhaps benefits or workers’ compensation. Connect with HR groups in your local area – SHRM should list the local chapters on their website.

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