Veteran Hiring: 3 Interview Tips for Transitioning Military
January 28, 2015
2015 is well underway, and with the new year comes new opportunity. Post-war veterans are coming home and seeking employment to support their families. Ad campaigns, news stories and social media buzz has created awareness of the benefits of veteran hiring.Due to the increased knowledge transfer, employers are hearing the message and ramping up their veteran recruitment strategy to target those entering the civilian workforce.
As a recruiter, I always put myself in the seat of candidates. Everyone, at some point, has been on the interviewee side of the table. Usually during an interview, you are racking your brain thinking, “What does this person want to hear?” While I look for many qualities, the two standout pieces of information are experience and motivation. What experience does the candidate have from previous jobs, and what is the candidate motivated to do with his career in the future?
So, as a veteran, how can you communicate to an employer how your military experience translates into civilian career? And be sure to make your aspirations for your new career path clear. I’ll tell you how.
Be sure to do your research on the company and the position before you walk in the door. Just as you went through basic training, train yourself on the basics of what the company is all about. What is the company’s mission statement? Who are its competitors? What is being said about the company on social media? Hiring managers and recruiters see this as motivation! You took the time to learn about the company you want a career with. Take it a step further and seek out an inside look at what it’s like to work at the organization by looking at the company’s Glassdoor page to read reviews from current and past employees.
List out anything on your resume that could be relevant from your previous experience, like leadership roles, training certificates, accomplishments and on-the-job experience you gained during your military career. With a recruiter-friendly resume that uses civilian terms and creates parallels between your military experience and the civilian workforce, it’s time to talk about your military experience during the interview. For example, don’t be afraid to say “I was awarded honors for implementing new data systems to 10 bases within my territory in one month’s time. By doing this, daily processes were optimized for each base. Jobs were able to be done quicker and data tracked more efficiently.” The key is to explain the outcome even if the skills aren’t something that relates directly to the job at hand.
Always come to an interview prepared with at least three savvy questions to ask the employer. Employers want to see that you took the time to think about what’s important to you. Asking questions showcases motivation, eagerness and proactivity. Questions such as, “If I started tomorrow, what would be my top priority?” or, “What is the growth potential of this position?” show your dedication.
In addition to thanking interviewers for their time and the opportunity at the close of your interview, follow up formally as well. Before leaving, ask them for business cards and the best way to contact them. This way you can send an email or handwritten thank-you note a couple days post interview. This will give you the opportunity to thank them again and ask about next steps in the process. This professionalism and gratitude goes a long way.
Social media networks like LinkedIn are a great way to stay professionally connected to people you interview with too, so hop on and request the connection as soon as you’re introduced to the contact. Connecting with people who work with a company you are interested in will enable you to gain insight into the organization and keep updated on any future roles available.
Just like in the military, there are many different jobs in the civilian workforce. All jobs require training and some may require certifications. Many vets have found success in becoming IT specialists, operations managers, engineers, logisticians, tradesmen and business administrators, just to name a few. Utilize the unique skills you learned during your military service and it could put you a step above your competition. Remember when walking into that interview, be prepared and be positive!
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