Giving Back

Translating military jargon into civilian speak

Though the Cosmopolitan regularly stages career mixers, workshops to teach interviewing skills and community job fairs, uniting vets and potential employers has several hurdles to jump, says director of talent acquisition Lori Calderon.

“It’s daunting because a lot of employers don’t understand military experience. And on the military member side, they don’t know how to translate their experience into the civilian workforce, so you have two groups speaking different languages that don’t know how to connect.”

Two languages? Allow us to translate to help those on both sides of a job interview cue into each other’s lingo and demystify the resume-writing and resume-reading chores. As a guide, the website,, has posted this military jargon-into-civilian-speak dictionary specifically for job recruitment, excerpted in this sidebar. Please share it with veterans who are job-seeking, or employers searching for employees who’ve already proven their dedication to discipline, service and responsibility while in uniform. Military titles, ranks and duties are in bold.

Non-commissioned officer in charge (NCOIC)/watch captain/petty officer of the watch = supervisor/manager/coordinator

Commander/chief = division head/director/senior manager

Executive officer (XO) = deputy director/assistant manager

Action officer (AO) = analyst/senior analyst

Temporary duty assignment (TDA) = business travel

Permanent change of station (PCS) = relocation

Officer evaluation report (OER) = performance appraisal

Managing organizational change (MOC) = career field

Commanded = supervised/directed

Battalion/unit/platoon = organization/agency/department

Mission = responsibility/task/objective/job

Combat/war = hazardous conditions/conflict

Headquarters = corporate office

Subordinates/service members = employees/co-workers

Military personnel office (MILPO)/personal action center (PAC) = personnel/human resources

Regulations = guidance/policy/instructions

Reconnaissance = data collection/survey/analysis

Table of distribution and allowances (TDA)/modified table of organization and equipment (MTOE) = organizational structure/material resources/manpower

Warrant officer = technical manager/specialist/department manager

Senior NCO = first-line supervisor

Sergeant major = senior advisor

First sergeant = personnel/human resources supervisor

Squad leader = team leader/team chief

Supply sergeant = supply manager/logistics manager

Operations NCO = operations supervisor

Platoon sergeant = supervisor/instructor/trainer

Advanced individual training (AIT) = advanced skills course

Basic training = basic skills course

Primary development leadership course = basic leadership and management development course

Basic non-commissioned officers course (BNOC) = intermediate leadership and management development course

Advanced non-commissioned officers course (ANOC) = advanced leadership and management development course

Officer advanced course (OAC) = entry level officer training course

Combined arms staff college = senior managerial leadership school

Command and staff college = senior leaders program

War college = executive leadership school

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