By Bob Wiedower, VP of Sales and Military Programs at Combined Insurance
Research. All successful military operations begin with collecting as much information on the situation as possible before building your execution plans. The same holds true for obtaining employment. The more you know about the environment the better prepared you will be to secure your perfect position. You should conduct a broad and deep assessment of your skills, abilities, and passions. There are many skills assessments online that you can use to help you determine what you’d be good at performing but more importantly what you would really enjoy doing. I’ve coached many transitioning service members and when I ask them ‘what do you want to do’ many times they don’t know or they respond with ‘I can do a lot of things.’ That’s certainly not specific enough, and it’s much easier to look for positions when you can target specific roles or job types.
Look for companies that are military-friendly. Veterans are unique and bring a strong set of skills to the workplace (leadership, integrity, energy, planning, ability to overcome obstacles, etc.). Search for companies that understand and value veterans and what they have to offer.
Network, network, network. You should meet as many people as you can, specifically in industries or companies in which you’re interested, but do not limit yourselves to any one area. You never know where a relationship will lead, so never pass up an opportunity to meet someone new. As a result of your relationship, you may find out about a position that suits you or they may offer to make an introduction to someone in a field in which you’re interested.
Resume. This is critical because it may be the only thing a hiring official sees from you and you need to make them want to learn more about you. Similar to your skills assessment, there are numerous resources to assist you in writing a resume. Focus on results and not on job duties. If you’re entire resume is a listing what you’re ‘responsible for,’ it is not at all powerful. Stating your saved “X dollars” or “achieved X % readiness, the highest in the organization in 6 years,” etc. is much more meaningful. Recruiters don’t want to know your job description, they want to know your impact.
Ensure you use civilian and not military terms. “First Sergeant” doesn’t mean anything to a company, but “Senior HR Generalist” does. There are online ‘translators’ that can help in this area. Keep it short and meaningful.
Interview. Once you’ve been given the opportunity to visit with the company, you’ll need to prepare. Most interviews these days involve situational questioning. For example, one question might be “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with difficult customer” or “Tell me about a time when you were faced with multiple priorities? How did you deal with them?” These questions are meant to elicit specific actions you took, not that you would take. In other words, they are asking about a time those things actually happened to you. They are looking for a quick summary of the situation, what you actually did in that case, and what was the result. To prepare for this, think about your past and to situations that had positive outcomes as a result of your actions. Build scenarios around those experiences in the form of situation, actions, and outcome. Build 5-6 or those scenarios (more if you can) so that when you’re asked a question you can pull out the best vignette in your portfolio that meets their question.
Looking for a job is a job in itself. The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to find the right position. Do your homework – look for the right job, at the right company, and show them how you will be an asset to their operations.