Editor’s Note: ‘Pickle Suit’ to Executive Suite

Thoughts and notes on making the transition from military life to civilian work

Don’t underestimate the power of military experience for executive roles.

While they may appreciate the service of those in uniform, some hiring managers don’t recognize the qualifications veterans can bring to their organizations.

To prepare this exclusive coverage for Ladders, former naval officer and freelance journalist Sean Gallagher talked to a variety of sources on both sides of the desk and learned about opportunities and impediments that face folks on the move from a military career to a civilian one.

Some paths, such as positions with the Department of Defense, are smooth for veterans. (“You just take off the pickle suit and put on a regular suit, and you’re ready to work at the Pentagon,” Col. Dick Crampton, director of placement services for the Military Officers Association of America, told Sean.)

Others require more ingenuity: retooling resumes; translating military jargon into corporate parlance; and, frequently, disabusing hiring managers of the idea that military training limits flexibility in the private sector.

As Jim Deimer, a member of Ladders who’s now a human-resources manager for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said, preparation is the key: “So you don’t feel like, ‘I won a Silver Star, and I can’t get a job? Something’s wrong with that picture.’ ”