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First Person

Serving those who served

Air Force veteran Bob Dixon of Dover started the LinkedIn group Military-Civilian Career Coaching Connection, aka MC4, to offer free job help to vets. He now counts 2,000-plus members.

Bob Dixon.

Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff

Bob Dixon.

The military members who come to us are either on active duty and in the process of transitioning out to civilian life or they’re going to retire or they have been discharged already. Sometimes we see people who only got LinkedIn accounts to join MC4 [Military-Civilian Career Coaching Connection].

This transition can be difficult for them because for the most part they have spent their entire adult life in the military. It’s a different culture in many respects than you would find in the civilian world. In the military, the way you might communicate the value you have or what you’ve accomplished may be very different than the way an employer would expect you to describe the value you can bring to them.

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There are some questions we don’t ask. We don’t ask people if they served in direct combat. A lot of the coaches were in the military, and it’s just not something we would ask. Privately we may have discussions.

Many of our coaches have hired hundreds and hundreds of people, so we have a pretty clear idea of how the veterans’ resumes should be structured, what messages they may want their resumes to send. We give them some very good coaching on interviewing, and we help them develop networks.

The advantages that veterans bring to civilian work are many: a drive to be successful, a commitment to the organization. The concept of failing is not generally acceptable to somebody who has served in the military.

There’s a tremendous amount of respect that military members have for the people they work with and the people they work for. One of the challenges I have is to get them to stop calling me “sir.” I’ve had two-star generals call me “sir.” I said, “General, the best I could do was E-5; you don’t have to ‘sir’ me.”  

— As told to Joel Brown (Interview has been edited and condensed.)

FOR MORE Veterans and volunteer job coaches should go to bit.ly/LinkedInMC4Group.

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