8 Things Transitioning Veterans Need to Know
1. Resume: Your resume is the key to the gates. It is the first thing viewed by a potential employer. How do you get the interview? How do you stand out? It is NOT by writing your own resume and using loud colors or skill bullets like you are on LinkedIn. Resume writing is an art and a professional writing career. So, hire the professional! The market is diluted with resume writers and recruiters these days. Be sure you choose an individual with a track record of professionalism and a successful track record with past clients. When your resume reaches the desk of the HR team, you must remember they have seen hundreds and thousands of resumes. They know who wrote their own by simply looking at the format. In a high demand world of business, potential employers are looking for those who take the initiative to present themselves as the top candidate for the job. That starts with your resume. The format and verbiage of a resume matters to your potential employer. They do not want to waste their time sifting through your resume trying to figure out why you bothered applying for the job. If they have to do that, likely your resume can end up at the bottom of the pile. To ensure you express your talents, skills, and abilities accurately, you should always hire a professional.
2. Interview: So you took my advice in hiring a professional to write your resume. You have landed an interview with your top choice for new hire. Now what? Arrive early, always. Plan ahead and know what time you must leave to get there. “I am sorry I am late because…” Is never how you want to start an interview. You can even go as far as do a practice run by driving to the building and find your way around (if possible.) This may sound overboard, but do you want the job or not?!? Be there, on time, and ready to go, no excuses!
3. Attire: It is the day of the interview and the product you are selling is yourself. What do you wear? Wearing jeans, slippers (flip-flops for those on the east coast), and a t-shirt sporting the logo of your favorite brand right now is defiantly not what you wear for those who really want to do so. Plan ahead! If you do not own a suit, go buy one. Invest into your future. Buy yourself a flattering outfit that screams business professional. For men, a tailored suit, and tie. Ladies, a pantsuit or dress slack suit, and tailored blouse. Be sure it is clean and neat. Fix your hair, brush your teeth, and deodorant... Ladies should paint on their face (not too much, you are not walking the runway for Vogue that day.) Also, consider doing only one spray of perfume. Let's not overwhelm the potential employer with a scent they may find absolutely revolting. Some may be rolling their eyes about now, but like I asked you in #2, "do you want the job or not?" So with that said, first-impression is everything. Sell yourself like the hottest asset your future employer has ever set eyes on! (I mean this in the most professional regard)
4. Eye Contact: So you are dressed to the nine, feeling good about yourself and you walk into the hiring manager's office. Walk in with your head held high, smile big and be sure to keep eye contact throughout the interviewing process. This tells your potentials employer you have confidence in yourself, which then relays to them you have self-confidence, to do a job well done. Show the potential employer you have what it takes and will go the extra mile from the moment you walk through that door.
5. Communication: Nothing is worse than going into an interview and cussing like a sailor (pun intended.) Articulating yourself in a way that shows your potential employer you are well and able to communicate professionally within the company and with future clients is so very important. Be yourself in conversation, but hold back on freely soliciting information not requested nor needed that may hinder your chances of being selected for the job.
6. Study: Imagine walking into an interview and having no idea what the company even does? It happens all the time and it drives employers insane. The best way to feel confident in an interview is to know about the company ahead of time. If you applied to work there, you better do your homework. In the interview, you are asked questions in regards to why you would be the best candidate. Knowing that companies product or service helps tremendously in being able to communicate why you are the man/women for the job! Simply telling them what you did prior, does not tell them what you can do in the future for their company.
7. Practice: Prior to the interview, call up a friend to come over and drill you on potential questions you may be asked in an interview. There is nothing worse than clamming up in an interview, turning bright red and then telling them you are super nervous. Sure, they tell you it is ok, but what else do you think that tells them? They want to know you can work under pressure and still be successful in your work. So while it is ok to have a moment of 'oops,' it's far better to practice prior to coming into an interview. You feel more comfortable answering questions and answering them well, once you have done it a few times. So practice! Do not wait until you walk into the interview to wing it…. Wing it later, once you have the job (just kidding.)
8. Know Your Worth: Know the value of your skills, ability, and what you bring to the table. You attract what you believe about yourself, so you must believe in yourself. Know that the skills and abilities you used while in the military are of great value in the civilian world. Use those unique skills and abilities to bring forth a wealth of opportunity for yourself. Do not sell yourself short and think while you may have been making six figures in the military, that you are not able to make that in your next career. This goes back to knowing how to translate your military work skills into civilian terminology. For example: Let's say while you were in the military, you were in charge of 20+ men at a given time, handled budgets of $2M at a given time, did ops involving negotiation and hostage rescue…. You are now looking for a job. You find a marketing job that makes $150k. You read over all the duties needed the job, and you know you can do all of them. Then, you look at requirements. - Bachelor's degree in marketing, business or similar REQUIRED - Minimum 5 years experience in a marketing position, with proven track record - etc… This is not the time to throw in the towel and think just because you haven't done these things in a corporate setting that you are not qualified. Anyone can get a bachelor's degree (and should,) but not everyone has what it takes to serve in the military while completing their work duties in extreme conditions. Had you not been in the military for 20 plus years and received certification that fell more than one large binder? Had you not marketed, sold and produced with a proven track record in all your ops? YES! Do not let the verbiage fool you. Rather, understand your worth and be ready to communicate that into the future position you are looking for.
Photos courtesy of Jena Muller and the Trident Transitions Veteran Foundation.
By: Jena Muller is the CEO & Founder of Trident Transitions Veteran Foundation and Director of Development for Elite Meet out of New York City. She has been a part of the US Navy SEAL community since 2006 and is an intricate part of the transitioning Special Operation Force community. With 13+ years of success-driven experience in resume/CV writing and brand management and consulting, she is bridging the gap between military and Corporate America. Jena is passionate about the success of the SOF community after the military and works tirelessly to ensure their success. She is always open to collaborate with like-minded organizations in order to assist elite military veterans into highly competitive job markets.