Leveraging the Best of Your Military Service

Military uniforms
Military uniforms (Lance Cpl. Courtney White/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

It doesn't matter whether you were infantry or intelligence, your military career can and should be a springboard for launching into an amazing career in the civilian sector.

Many organizations hire veterans, because they feel it is their way of giving back to those who served. However, most organizations love hiring veterans because they understand the product they are purchasing.

The average veteran has advanced skills in discipline, critical decision-making and work ethic. Then, given the various military occupational specialties, you might even step into the job with advanced technical skills that give you a leg up over the civilian population. However, the savvy veterans must understand how to leverage the best of these experiences in order to impress and succeed in the civilian sector.

Bridge the Civilian/Military Gap

First and foremost, let's not fail to neglect the obvious connections between one's military occupational specialty and its civilian counterpart. There is no law that says if you fixed jet aircraft in the military that you must do so in the civilian sector.

Yet, make no mistake how valuable such knowledge can be in understanding your potential new role. Employers like to hire people with experience, but don't walk into the interview relying on the past.

Use your technical knowledge to do a little research before the interview and identify the similarities and differences between the military and civilian version of the job. Demonstrate to the employer that you not only have experience, but you have already used that experience to better understand the job for which you are applying.

It shows initiative and demonstrates that you have the adaptability to translate your experience into civilian use. This type of knowledge is readily available on the internet, but it might as well be Greek to those without the experience to read it in context. Use your experience to research it and win the interview.

Represent Veterans Well

Once you have landed the job, it is time to remind your employer why they like hiring veterans. It is often said that people will rarely work harder than when they first land a job.

As a veteran, you understand the best of team play, diligent work and professionalism. So it is time to show those off early. For jobs that require strenuous physical labor, remaining in peak physical shape in order to meet the demands should come naturally to veterans.

If the job requires complex decisions and critical thinking, then don't rush decisions just to get through the workday early. If the job requires working in a team environment, then lead by example as you avoid conflict for the greater good.

Remember that you not only represent yourself, but fellow veterans who may come after you to seek employment. The technical skills one attains in the military are only part of what makes veterans thrive in the workplace.

You need to understand how to leverage the sum of your military experience and do so early in your civilian career. For when employers see such effort, initiative and willingness to learn at the beginning of one's career, they can safely bet there is more to come.

However, most civilian employers have come to understand that if a person is unwilling to do so upon first landing a job, then they have little reason to expect it will get better.

Veterans understand the need for making an impact on Day 1 as the realities of training and combat can often be unforgiving. This is part of the sum of who you are, and there is no reason to leave it out. Leverage it all and remind the world why hiring veterans is the smartest business decision a leader can make.

For more information, contact our partners at Hiring our Heroes.

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