All things being equal the candidate with military experience should always get hired…all things being equal.
Normally you will see the civilian candidate has more direct relevant experience but not the leadership, people skills, discipline. or work ethic of their military peer.
Often the person making the hiring decision does not understand the leadership training, problem solving, planning, high emotional intelligence , etc. the typical military background offers. Therefore it is imperative military candidates take time to think through how their experience and training is transferable and use this to counter possible short falls in direct industry skills.
Here are some pointers:
1. Relax. In case you have not notice your ramrod straight and direct nature can be intimidating or worse come off as arrogance. Talk to your interviewer as a peer, not your CO.
2. Take time before and during the interview, or crafting your cover letter, to understand what the company is looking for. Then be prepared to speak directly to how you will perform the tasks asked of you drawing on your skills and experience. Example: Where you don’t have the exact skill or experience talk about how you were in a similar situation and “got up to speed” quickly and went on to master the skill.
3. Put yourself in the interviewers shoes, reader of your cover letter, and try to anticipate what their concerns may be. Research what feedback other HR people have to say about military hires. Ask your civilian counter parts what their perception of “Jar Heads” are and be prepared to address these perceptions; rigid, aggressive, robotic-lacking innovation…
4. There is plenty of advise online to help you with translating your experience to a civilian setting. I would add here are a few of your relative strengths are: Leadership, execution, teamwork, adaptability, emotional maturity, planning, problem solving…on and on. Every employer understands these concepts and wants these skills on their team, You have to practice weaving them into your personal marketing effort.
I don’t know if there is any evidence veterans have a more difficult time finding employment but this should certainly not be the case if you are smart about your approach and packaging. Fact: you have more to offer then the competition.
Take the hill!
Posted by Keith Sealund