It seems a simple concept. In the legal world, it’s called quid pro quo (“this for that”). You fight for our freedom and in return, you should be the strongest candidate for civilian jobs. But why aren’t you getting calls or interviews?
In my discussions with hiring managers, human resource leaders, and even reading articles across the Web, it’s abundantly clear that veterans face tremendous hurdles when looking for a job in the civilian world. Instead of dwelling on the difficulties of the process, here are some things you should know when transforming from the military to civilian workforce.
First and foremost, you are not alone. While it would be easier to simply blame corporations for being so narrow-minded, the reality is, you are a stranger to the hiring manager. We are taught very early not to trust strangers, and hiring managers are no exception. Break down that barrier by giving potential employers something to relate to. One method is to develop a personal brand, which will show your professional values. Employers that share your values are more likely to be interested in knowing more about you. Employers who don’t share your values are those you want to repel. This is a win-win situation.
Hard skills, those that are learned, will be your biggest hurdle. If you are going to apply to jobs through a job board or corporate website, your resume will be submitted to an applicant tracking system (ATS), what I call “the robots.” Hiring managers program the robots to screen out anyone who doesn’t have their desired skill set. Even though you may be an expert on the technology to take out the enemy with a push of a button, an employer might be more interested in your knowledge of JIRA. Find a career professional who specializes in translating military skills to civilian skills.
When you make it past the robots, you’ll be quizzed on soft skills, or behaviors, in telephone or in-person interviews. Will you get along with your potential co-workers? Do you have similar likes or dislikes? Employers will want to know if you can do the job. In short, if the interviewers see themselves in you, you will be one of the top candidates. Keep your responses relatable. Military or civilian, if an interviewer can relate to your behavior, this works to your favor.
While you may have thrown in the towel on more than one occasion, there are plenty of reasons to have hope. First, many corporations have enacted social responsibility programs, which include efforts to hire veterans. You will have a step-up on other candidates from the get go. Second, there is a growing industry based on serving those who served. They offer you free career services, like resume writing, career counseling, and interview preparation. Organizations who offer job placement services for veterans are your best choice. In addition to being your personal advocate, they are able to bypass the dreaded robots!
Ready to find your dream job? Contact Veterans Job Resources for your free career services and job placement today.