Transitioning out of the military and entering the civilian workforce is challenging. But the process will run much smoother if you show your awareness of what makes you a great candidate for the job.
In other words, your every step should be directed at helping employers understand what they get when they hire a veteran. The value you bring into an organization provides practical guidance for transitioning into civilian job markets and is relevant to every potential civilian job you apply for. Employers are looking for people who can help them instantly solve specific problems – that’s why knowing what you bring to the table is key. Once you sell it to the employer, you’ll enjoy a much higher chance at landing the job.
Here are 9 ways in which veterans can show employers why hiring them is a good idea.
1. Skill certification
Sometimes it’s not really formal education that plays principal role in the hiring process. Certification is often considered by recruiters a much more reliable proof of a candidate’s qualifications. That’s why your first step should be to check what are the certifications available in your area and whether top candidates boast one or more of them.
In the field of project management, for instance, one such metric is Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. It’s a globally recognized, objective third-party verification which shows that you possess skills which make you a great project manager.
Have a look around to see what your target industry requires of its candidates and work towards it. Going back to school is a costly and risky business – after all, employer demand changes more often than do study programs. A certification is perfectly aligned with the sector and clearly within your reach.
2. Show that you know how to be efficient
Getting done more with less is the primary objective of any employer looking for a project manager-like position. Efficiency in action is your strongest card so you better play it well. Instead of writing that you know how to conduct a project in a cost-effective way, show it to potential employers by means of relevant examples.
Offer specific situations from your military career, where you were tasked with a mission. Describe the mission’s time and resource limits and show what kind of results you were able to generate with what you had available. Naturally, what you delivered to the subject which tasked you with that mission should be aligned with the specific qualifications your target employers are looking for in a candidate.
Still, every single version of your resume should be based on demonstrations of your management skills. Make sure that you show yourself as a confident professional who will be able to handle the workload from the very first day of appointment.
3. Time management skills
Veterans stand a chance at showing employers that their previous training equipped them with unique skills in managing their time and efficient multitasking. Make sure that you emphasize in your resume the entire range of tasks required of you at the military.
Most often, veterans are not only busy meeting the requirements of their military jobs, but completing a wide range of administrative tasks, dealing with “no notice” situations and facing outcomes nobody predicted. It’s clear that no college education or market experience can give candidates skills to compete with you in this regard – and that’s why employers will find your time management skills so valuable.
4. Prepare job interview answers
Each and every professional knows that the interview offers an excellent opportunity for showing more of themselves to the employer and convincing recruiters that they’re a perfect match for the job on offer. What you wrote in your resume should be supplemented by thoughtful answers during the job interview.
Prepare for the interview to demonstrate your confidence and always refer to specific examples of situations where you efficiently managed your time, the time of your team or the mission as a whole (here understood as a project).
If you’re applying for a managerial position, you’ll inevitably get asked this question: “Could you please provide us with an example of a project you lead where you had to deal with limitations and considerable expectations?”.
It can be tight schedule or limited resources, the important thing is that you clearly say how you handled them and how you worked towards a successful outcome. Consider well you missions and prepare examples to such questions – this is how you’ll impress the recruiters and sell your value to the organization.
This feature sets veterans apart from other professionals. It’s a generally acknowledged fact that the military requires maximum flexibility and adaptability from service members. It operates on a “no excuses” mentality. Show employers that you can be expected to deal with situations as presented, know how to overcome challenges and adapt in order to achieve your goals.
Veterans are well-versed in dealing with such situations – they even make acronyms for them (like FUBAR, BOHICA or SNAFU). Veterans entering the job market should expose two key qualities in their resume and interviews: their familiarity with critical situations and hard-learned talent for coming up with effective solutions to unexpected problems. These will help set you apart from other candidates and make a positive impression on recruiters.
Veterans are committed to achieving a specific goal and won’t back down because of a few challenges on the way. Basic military training has equipped them with perseverance that regular professionals can only dream about. Choosing to join the military, people sign a contract and come hell or high water, most of them complete it in the best way they can.
Serving their country honorably is their personal goal and they’re able to stick to it even when facing hard times. Show this aspect of your professional personality through a track record of sterling achievement that clearly demonstrates you as someone who doesn’t take no for an answer and is able to completely commit themselves to a cause.
7. Analytical skills
The military is full of unexpected or chaotic situations and people need strong analytical skills in order to survive and bring the mission to success. Veterans are able to focus on what’s important in a given situation – instead of being distracted by the chaos, they’re able to methodically gather and compare data, discuss its implications and potential impact on other situations.
As a veteran, you’re prepared to lead a team to success even if the circumstances are less-than-favorable and everything seems to be falling apart. Your resume should emphasize your strong analytical skills by describing situations in which your correct analysis helped to save people’s lives. This is bound to make an impression on recruiters and ensure that they categorize you into a group of professionals who can work efficiently under great pressure.
8. Communication skills
This is a military skill which still requires more exposure to the private market. Veterans know that the military service helps to develop excellent communication skills. They spent a lot of time writing reports and white papers that clearly convey their understanding of complex situations and argue their way for a specific course of action.
As a veteran, you already possess communication skills which allow you to synthesize complex information into understandable charts, graphs and presentations you prepared so many times for senior leaders. Even junior enlisted members are asked to orally brief a senior member.
Make sure that your resume clearly shows this qualification by listing all forms of communication you’ve used during your service and skills that can be associated with them, for instance summary writing.
9. Excellent leadership
Finally, the military breeds excellent leadership skills. Veterans are skilled leaders because they’re highly dedicated to the cause, loyal and able to spread their motivation to the rest of the team. If you’re applying for a managerial position, make sure to emphasize each and every situation where your leadership helped in task or mission completion. This is the single most important quality employers recognize in military experience – and you should only confirm their suspicions by showing yourself as a dedicated and engaged leader.
By now you should realize that being a veteran gives you a lot of strong cards to be used during the hiring process. Make sure to showcase your unique skills and help employers understand why hiring a veteran is well-worth their money. Once they do hire you, it’s your job to make a good name for all veterans out there and show yourself as a valuable member of the organization.
About the author
Kate Bones works for checkdirector.co.uk. She has a deep expertise in Human Resources which she combines with her zest for sharing her knowledge to help others.