It’s strange to think that finding a job could be the hardest challenge you face. But the work you did in the military is foreign to civilian employers. So let’s go undercover. I’ll show you how Veterans can leverage your experience to secure interviews and win the job.
Understand the company’s problems
Before you get hired you have to land the interview. That means your resume has to stand out. To make your resume stand out requires one thing – that you understand the problem the employer hopes to solve.
There’s a knife in the employer’s leg. They’re bleeding and it hurts. They need a professional to pull it out. To show them that you are that professional, simply restate the employer’s pain in your resume and describe how you can solve it.
But each company has a unique problem, so template resumes won’t work. Each resume has to be custom-tailored for the individual employer and their specific pains. Before you apply, carefully read the job description and highlight any problems you find. Then address those problems in your own words to show you understand what they’re going through.
Show employers you’re the right person to solve their problems
Next you’ll want to show (in your resume) how your experience makes you qualified to solve the problem(s). Employers won’t hire you unless they feel confident you have the right skills. It’s like how you wouldn’t let a dentist operate on a brain tumor. Sure he’s a doctor, but he’s not the right doctor for the job.
To show employers that you’re the right person with the right skills, you can hand-pick experiences from your career. Relate those experiences to the position and show how you solved similar problems to those the employer faces.
For example, if an automotive company says they need a mechanic experienced with foreign cars, you might relate your experience working on military vehicles while overseas. Here’s how that could look as bullets on a resume:
- Maintained foreign vehicle and made necessary repairs
- Inspected engines for leaks, cracks, and proper operation
- Followed repair manual to service foreign automotives
Here’s an example of ineffective bullets:
- Maintained FMTVs while OCONUS operating in a field environment
- Followed TM-9-2320-365-20-1 to PMCS LMTVs during duty hours
Apply industry-specific language in your communications
Once you cover your experience, you’ll want to review your resume with an eye for areas to sprinkle in industry-specific language.
Maybe you’re certified in classified blackside infiltration protection systems. That could translate to mean you’ve worked in advanced cybersecurity systems. Then it’s more relevant for the position and for the employer. Plus it helps them interpret your background.
If you have certifications like CCSP or CEH, it’s okay to mention those in a cybersecurity resume too. Anything that’s relevant to the job that adds value will make you stand out. Each value point places another spotlight on you as the candidate.
An easy way to find out what the employer values is to go through the job description and highlight keywords. Keywords draw the employer’s attention when they read them.
For instance, an accounting supervisor might want to see words like, “cost accounting,” “profit and loss” and “pivot tables.” An I.T. supervisor might want to see words like, “LAN,” “open wi-fi,” “data breach,” and “risk management.” Simply using these words increases your chance to get the interview.
Remember, you’re dealing with civilians
Securing the interview is phase one. But you still need to get picked for the job. The easiest way Veterans can survive the interview and win the job is to remember that you’re dealing with civilians, and above all…human beings.
Civilians don’t always understand military lingo, so you can drop slang and acronyms like:
- Blue Falcon
- Secret Squirrel
- Full Battle Rattle
- 11 Bang-Bang
You’ll want to talk like they talk. Doesn’t have to be perfect, but the employer shouldn’t repeatedly ask, “what’s that?”
Be mindful that you’re interviewing with civilian employers and use best practices when it comes to people skills. Remember to smile, greet them with a firm handshake, address them by name, use good posture and stay positive!
Yes, Veterans can leverage your experience to secure interviews and win the job
It takes time and patience, but if you put in the effort to consider each employer’s problems, show how your experience helps you solve those problems, and do it in a way the employer understands, then you can leverage your experience to secure interviews and win the job.
And if you want to increase your odds to win I.T. or Cybersecurity positions, we can help with that.