Ask Chad about Careers, Part 3 |
By Chad Sowash | chief experience officer at RecruitMilitary and a former infantry drill sergeant in the United States Army |
Published in the July/August 2010 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Employers all over this great nation are looking for qualified veterans to fill their corporate ranks. But unfortunately, many employers don’t know what positions veterans are qualified for, and many of those same employers do not know where to find qualified veterans. Surprised? Let’s take a few minutes and think about why employers are having problems and what you can do to track them down and get the job!
First and foremost, how would they know where to find you? Employers look for talent based on skill sets. But how would they know where to start when the military uses terms like 11 Bravo, 32 Echo, or random numbers such as 0531 or 0904 as occupational identifiers?
Next, consider all of the bases worldwide that are generally rich in certain types of skills sets and not others, making it even harder for employers to target you. Then, factor in the employers’ inability to fully understand military ranks and their problems with the military language barrier.
So where do you start?
Be military-like, but don’t “speak military.” Keep the core values, work ethic, and beliefs the military has ingrained in your being, but lose the military-speak. Thick acronyms and military jargon do not translate very well to the civilian side of the house, and should be stricken from your vocabulary – especially in your resume.
Translate your job. Do not use a nebulous military occupational term such as 91 Bravo, for example, to say you were a mechanic in the Army. Let the employer know that you were a mechanic, and specify the types of vehicles and engines you were tasked to maintain and the types of tasks you performed. For instance, mention Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services, rather than using “PMCS”; and provide any other relevant pieces of information that add to the education, knowledge, and experience in your work history.
Mention your management skills. Help the employer better understand what your rank meant in the natural order of the military. If your rank provided an opportunity to hold a leadership position such as team leader, squad leader, section sergeant, or higher, you should list that duty as management time.
As you know, military personnel are tasked with managing and supervising their troops, as well as ensuring that problems including family support and morale are addressed appropriately. In the military world, nothing can bend your focus due to the heightened risk involved when on mission. On the civilian side, less focus and risk is allocated to supporting individuals outside of the 9 to 5, which means you bring a greater understanding of how to motivate and support a team.
Bring forth the intangibles. Help the employer understand that military are trained harder and expected to work longer hours than their civilian counterparts. Promote the times you worked tirelessly to help the team complete the mission and the leadership schools you had to attend to continue through the ranks. Remember, your civilian counterparts don’t have to go through leadership schools when promoted, and many have never worked rigorous 36-hour stints to “complete the mission.” Give the hiring employer real-life accounts translated into terms the employer will understand—such as risk assessment, management, logistics, support, and completing the mission under high-stress situations.
Your uncle will relocate you. If the job is in another state or across the US of A, let the employer know Uncle Sam will pay for your relocation. This benefit easily puts you ahead of any other candidate who will need the company to pay for his or her possible relocation.
Track them down! Use job boards, search engines, and any other necessary tools to find the job you want to compete for, and then apply directly to the company. I say again . . . Apply directly to the company! If your target job is with a large organization, locate the position on the company’s career site and then apply using your new civilianized resume. Doing this gives you a better chance at getting the job by getting in front of the employer faster.
If the company does not have a career site for application, call the company! Let the employer know what position you want to apply for, and ask for the company’s preferred method of application.
Identify yourself as a veteran! When you are going through the application process, ask whether the company is a federal contractor. If it is, make sure you identify yourself as a veteran. It is increasingly important for such companies hire veterans due to federal regulations. Your being a vet does not guarantee you the job, but it does favor you. If the application asks whether you are current military or a veteran, identify yourself as such and, in your interview, sell the reasons why military personnel make better employees.