Finding a job in the private sector after serving in the military is a challenge for many Veterans. Those who entered the service after high school may have never created a resume or prepared for a job interview. Skills learned during a military career also may not be understood or unappreciated in the private sector.
As approximately 93.5% of the American population never served in the military, most cannot relate the Veteran’s experience, language, or culture to the civilian world. Vets must translate skills and talk in terms easily understood by the private sector. Gaining specialized skills through certificate programs also can boost a resume to the top of the pile. Here are some interviewing tips to help land a job in the private sector in as little as 60 days.
Getting the interview is the first step. A resume or CV is necessary for job applications. Vets must create a resume that correlates skills to the job and puts information into general terms. Avoid acronyms and military jargon and speak in the context of civilian language. Instead of saying “command,” use “lead or direct,” and replace “mission” with “objective.” Refer to Military.com for help in translating military skills.
List soft and hard skills and illustrate the use of leadership abilities and competencies in specific campaigns. For example, explain how many people were supervised and what tasks were managed during a certain operation.
For assistance in building a resume, refer to these free online resources:
Job references are an important part of the interview process. Companies use professional references to verify past work performance and determine if a candidate is a good fit for a job. In the military, references may include commanders, senior NCOs, or other military personnel who know the technical details of a Vet’s training, experience, and achievement notes Fisheries GI Jobs.
Be prepared to have at least three references before starting the job search. Some companies want references in the initial application or when considered for employment. Have references ready to provide at any time.
List at least one person who served in a commanding role and another as a peer. Do not list family or friends. If possible, get references before leaving the military. When interviewed for a job, alert references that a prospective employer may call. Explain the job posting and ask them to talk about specific skills.
Get to know the company before the initial interview to show interest. Information on company history, executives, product lines, markets, and vision is accessible from the corporate website, social media accounts, Glassdoor, and general web searches. Get an understanding of the potential role to explain qualities that make you the best candidate. Specify specific skills and experience that would contribute to the company’s ongoing success.
Candidates that show initiative in learning about a company are deemed ambitious and interested in the job, notes Indeed. Gaining a general background also helps determine if the company is a good match.
On average, companies received 250 resumes for an open position, with 4 to 6 applicants chosen for an interview, according to Glassdoor. Many companies have a multi-step interview process involving different hiring team members such as the potential boss and other executives. Understanding the process can help ace these interviews.
As companies conduct interviews on different platforms, practice techniques for phone, computer, and in-person interviews. Be sure to understand the online platform to avoid delays or disconnects during the interview. If asked to interview in person, dress professionally and arrive five to 10 minutes early. That might mean leaving for the interview a half hour earlier in case there is traffic and navigating the location. Always leave a thank you note by email after an interview to express interest.
As with the resume, Vets must talk about their skills and experience during the interview in terms relatable to the business leaders who might hire them. When explaining skills learned in active duty, describe a situation that explains how you put them into practice. GI Jobs provides ques to relate military experience during the job interview.
Do not answer in military jargon such as “roger that” to confirm information. Instead, answer yes or ok. Do not appear intimidating or unrelatable. While the military has ingrained a high level of discipline and formality, Vets should act relaxed and respond more casually to foster a comfortable conversation. Practice answers to questions ahead of time to prevent rambling. At the end of the interview, ask questions – never skip the Q&A and say you have no questions.
Many Vets may need to fill education gaps or gain specialized skills to get an edge over the competition for jobs, especially for management and technical positions. Individuals can build on hard and soft skills developed through a military career or gain a background in new skills through certificate programs, such as those offered at Norwich Pro. Vets can choose from a comprehensive portfolio of online certificate programs in high-demand fields:
With over 200 years of educating military leaders, Norwich understands the challenge of transitioning from military to civilian life.
For Information on Norwich Pro's complete roster of Certificate Programs that develop and deepen professional skills to get ahead in careers or enter new ones, visit https://pro.norwich.edu/.