Congratulations on Your Military Service… Now Here Are 9 Reasons Why I Won’t Hire You

Why I Wont Hire You Congratulations on Your Military Service… Now Here Are 9 Reasons Why I Won’t Hire YouSo, you’ve decided to hang up the uniform after years of distinguished service to our great nation. You’ve attended a few transition classes and have your interview suit and shiny new resume as you make the leap into the civilian world.

You feel confident, because you’ve seen your colleagues leave the uniform on Friday and come to work the following Monday in a suit and tie making twice as much salary. You storm the job boards and job fairs. Never mind that although you’ve drafted a plan of action and milestones (POA&M) for every significant evolution of your military career, some of you have invested the least amount of time and effort into your own transition POA&M.

Those of us in the hiring and recruiting business know firsthand that not all veterans are created equal, and, sometimes, it’s a great business decision to hire a military professional into our companies. Often, though, many don’t. Why? Because you’re just not the right fit. A more impressive candidate captured our attention, or maybe, through no fault of your own, we found someone internally or received a referral from one of our own employees.

The irony is that many veterans and servicemembers have the skills and experience to make the cut, or even get the second interview, but blow it. As a military candidate recruiter, I see consistent themes in why military professionals don’t get the job. Many may blame the new Transition GPS, their branch of service’s career center or even the employers themselves, but here are the top real reasons why you’ll never get hired:

 

1. You Can’t (or Won’t) Accept That You’re Starting Over

Let’s suppose that immediately after graduating from college or high school, I went to work for one of the well-known defense contractors. During the course of my 20+ year career at that company, I was very successful and promoted to the position of Program Manager, frequently working with the military. However, I’m now at that point in my career where there isn’t any opportunity for further advancement, or I’m simply weary of the industry.

I’m now in my late 30s or early 40s and decide it’s time to leave the company to pursue a different career. I’ve worked with the military my entire adult life, so I decide I want to join its ranks. Because of my previous experience with managing multimillion dollar budgets and hundreds of personnel, I feel I’m the equivalent of a Commanding Officer or Senior Enlisted Leader. When I talk to a recruiter about my level of entry, what would they tell me?

The cold dose of reality is that despite all of my experience, I’d have no idea what the organizational culture is like in the military. I’d be set up for failure if someone allowed me to don the collar devices and step into a command position. On day one, something as basic as sending an email to a flag officer could go very sour very quickly. This is because even though I may have transferable skill sets, I lack the knowledge of industry norms and protocol experience to succeed.

A senior military professional transitioning into the private sector faces the same dynamic. The transition is a bit easier within the Department of Defense and Federal arenas, but you’re starting anew. It’s imperative that you understand this. As a result, you should seek ways to learn the organizational structures of potential employers many months before you’ll be entering the job market.

Just as I would have been far better informed had I spoken to a military recruiter before I left my civilian job, so should you be similarly informed before entering your last year of service. Use recruiters, headhunters, employment counselors, hiring managers, etc. to gain intelligence and information so you can be pragmatic in your expectations and planning. Also, getting a mentor who has successfully navigated into the private or government sector and is also a veteran will provide invaluable insight from a perspective you’ll be able to relate to.

 

2. You Believe You’re Unique (Just Like Every Other Transitioning Person That Day)

Each and every day, 200 to 300 servicemembers exit the military. This number will only increase as the nation’s wars come to an end and forces continue to draw down. In 2012, an average of 470,000 resumes were posted on Monster each week. Essentially, for every job opening in the U.S., there are roughly 187 qualified and unqualified job applicants.

This is the challenge you face in relying on job boards as your sole method of getting a job. I suggest you think of hitting the “apply” button as being similar to walking down to the local convenience store and buying a lottery ticket, then deciding to not do anything else (or continue buying lottery tickets) until they call your number.

Are job boards still relevant? Yes. However, it’s best to post your resume to a niche job board that aligns with your background or industry — and make sure your resume is targeted specifically for the jobs you apply to.

 

3. Your Resume Is Longer Than the CEO of Our Company’s (or Shorter Than a Recent College Graduate’s)

A long resume doesn’t impress me at all. Even worse, a resume that has neither definition nor clarity is guaranteed to be placed in the trash. I’m probably going to look at it for six seconds, tops.

Your resume should be a windshield document. That is, it should reflect the positions you’re going towards. (Click here to tweet this thought.) It shouldn’t be a rearview mirror which simply lists all of the duties you performed. It should contain keywords, which websites such as wordle and tagcrowd can help you identify in both job announcements and your resume. This is because your resume will most likely be filtered by Applicant Tracking Software before it even gets to a human resources screener.

And, while I appreciate that you volunteered to clean up a highway or had some collateral duties in addition to your main assignments, I’m looking for candidates who have years of matching relevant experience, the right job titles and are in the same industry. Most importantly, I’m not looking for a “jack of all trades”; if I were, the job posting would have said so.

How do you craft a resume that’s forward-looking? Find about 15 to 20 job announcements that match up with your ideal target job title. Incorporate their language into your resume and make it contextual by inserting your metrics. Review each bullet point you’ve chosen to use by asking yourself if it demonstrates a problem you solved or action you took and the results that were accomplished. The actual length of your resume? It depends on your audience. Seek out current or former employees at the companies you’ve identified in your target list and ask them what their company’s preference is.

 

4. You Didn’t Proofread Your Resume

I would be a millionaire if I got 10 bucks for every time I come across a candidate who’s an “experienced manger.” There isn’t any substitute for attention to detail here. Don’t trust spellcheck, and don’t rely solely on your own review. Have your resume reviewed and critiqued free of charge by as many eyes as possible. The trained professionals at your Fleet and Family Support Centers, Army ACAP, and Airman & Family Readiness Centers are the best resource to catch those mistakes before I do.

After getting your resume reviewed for spelling and substance, take it to the local university’s English department and have it critiqued for proper grammar. Seem a bit excessive? Well, if I see misspellings and poor grammar on your resume, what will I expect from you if I need you to communicate with my clients?

 

5. You Don’t Have a LinkedIn Profile (Or, Even Worse, It’s Not Complete)

In a 2012 JobVite survey, 89% of hiring decision-makers and recruiters reported using social media sites such as LinkedIn to find their candidates. If this is the case, shouldn’t you have a profile already?

Your knowledge of managing your online presence lets me know how proficient you are in using technology to communicate. It also allows me to see your skills, even if they’re nascent. If you have an incomplete profile, it may communicate that you might also expect me to complete your work for you.

Take the time and get your LinkedIn profile set up right. There are lots of places and resources available online to get help at no cost, so there isn’t any excuse for not having one. Additionally, a complete LinkedIn profile allows you to take advantage of LinkedIn Labs’ Resume Builder to automatically generate 11 different resume styles based on your LinkedIn profile. Talk about a time saver!

 

6. You Think Social Media Is For Kids or Sharing War Stories

If you think social media is a huge waste of time and doesn’t offer real value, watch this video.

The reality is that two out of three job seekers will get their next job using social media. What does that mean to you? It translates to lesser-qualified people using technology to their advantage to get hired. They know how to use each of the social networking sites to the maximum extent in their transition action plans. If you think Twitter is of little use to a job seeker or professional, your competition will be happy to land the job you want because they’re using it and you aren’t.

 

7. You Didn’t Prepare For The Interview

During the course of your military career, you’ve conducted countless boards and interviews. It seems to make sense that you should have no problem interviewing. After all, you did pretty well in your transition class mock interviews, didn’t you?

Wrong approach. I’ve seen instances where the most junior servicemember outperformed a much more seasoned military leader because of one simple strategy: practice, practice, practice. Practice with someone who regularly hires or who has hired people at your level recently.

Why do you need to practice? Because you need to be able to be conversational, convey energy and yet let me know you’re aware of what my business is, who my competitors are and even who I am. Did you go to the company’s website to see if we have a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter page? Did we make the news recently? Google News is a great way to find this out.

I want you to distinguish yourself from the regular job seeker. I want to know you’re as passionate about my company and what we do as I am, not just out to get a paycheck and benefits. Make sure you have a set of questions that I haven’t heard before, and when we’re about to finish the interview, ask for the job. Don’t worry; I’m not going to be offended, because I want to see that fire in your belly. Just don’t overdo it by saying something presumptuous such as, “So… when do I start?”

 

8. You Wrote a Thank You Note (But Only to Say Thank You)

Sending a thank you note is something that sets you apart from the competitors also vying for this position. And while it’s appreciated and infinitely better than sending nothing at all, don’t just send the note to say thank you; use it to tell me how much passion you have for my company and the job. Remind me of those things that excited you during our interview and, if there were any areas you looked vulnerable in, ease my concerns.

 

9. You Don’t Know What You Want to Do

When asked what you want to do, the worst possible answer you can give is, “I don’t know” or “anything.” You have to be able say specifically what types of positions you’re interested in and how you can add value to them. If you don’t, you’re essentially saying, “Invest lots of time and money in me, and maybe it will help me figure out if I want to do something else.”

If you have no clue where to start, start by looking at colleagues with backgrounds similar to yours who have recently transitioned. Which industries are they in? What companies are they working for? Where are they living? What job titles do they have now? The LinkedIn Labs Veterans App is a great tool to help with this. Be sure to check it out. Start volunteering to gain professional experience and seek out internships long before you sign your DD214.

Employers want to feel secure in knowing that you’ll last and that they can depend on you in your new work environment. Doing an internship or volunteering will help both the employer and you determine if a position is a good fit. Additionally, due to the flood of resumes that come in for each job posting, applicants who have volunteered or performed internships will stand out well ahead of the others.

Military professionals, especially senior ones, have a lot to offer our country when they hang up the uniform. The President and American companies are working hard to ensure that servicemembers and veterans have well-paying jobs with opportunities to advance. However, no one is ever guaranteed a job, and the more senior you are, the more challenging the transition can be in terms of education, credentials, certification and relevant industry experience required. Having a powerful network is essential and can open doors for you. That said, your comrades, friends and family can generally get you to the door, but it remains up to you to be fully prepared when the door is opened.

Eager to hear your thoughts — please share them in the comments!

 

 Congratulations on Your Military Service… Now Here Are 9 Reasons Why I Won’t Hire YouSultan Camp is a  proud veteran, travel hound and Orion International Military Recruiter looking for hard workers to place into rewarding careers within Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Making your military transition successful is his goal.

 

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Congratulations on Your Military Service… Now Here Are 9 Reasons Why I Won’t Hire You

121 Responses

  1. Great article, and spot on. Best interview I had was when the interviewer was brutally honest with me and said “You really don’t want to work for us, do you?” (he was right – I was only “going through the motions” out of desperation). “Suck back and reload” was the best advice, and he wasn’t afraid to tell me. Thanks.

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  2. I agree to what you have written. But there are exceptions to your answers. When applying to a government job the resume must be long. A computer must understand what you write then an bro rep reads to finalize your application. I have been very blessed by God I transitioned from the marine corps. I was a common steel worker for less than a year then I hit on the list for a government job. I started out making 14 an hour. Now 5 years later I make almost 26. And have become the General Mechanic for a whole government base. All we really need is faith and strength thru GOD.

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    • Amen,
      I had a Colonel tell me one day that if is God’s will no man can change it.

  3. Sorry, but I have a real beef with number 1. As a veteran you should know that it’s required to move every two to four years. For numerous individuals it meant learning an entirely new job in a brand new organization. Those who attained the senior NCO and field grade ranks especially have been coming in brand new, learning about the organization and it’s people in a minuscule amount of time and then leading that organization to new heights. We’ve been doing this our whole career so why wouldn’t we expect to jump right in and make huge impacts? I’m not saying we should expect to walk in and take over as CEO but expecting that we should start out at the bottom of the totem pole is just as unrealistic.
    But I know the civilian sector just doesn’t understand. That is why I would hope that organizations such as Orion would help veterans translate that into a résumé or cover letter and even educate HR personnel that you have contact with. After all, this is one of the huge benefits veterans bring to the table – immediate impact.

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    • Moving two to 4 years is not necessarily true for enlisted members. Also, it really depends on ones career choices after transitioning from the military as to whether they would need to start from the beginning. Mitigating one’s assumption that I was a Sgt or Capt in the military therefore I should start in an upper level position would help also.

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      • I think the point here is that you start at a lower level to prove yourself. Take one step backwards to take two steps forward. In the military promotions occur at fairly well defined time intervals. If you work for a good company taking a lower position should not be an issue because you will be able to quickly prove yourself and promote at an accelerated rate.

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    • How many times have you gotten a new CO and all he/she wanted to do was change something that was working so they could put it on their FITREP, regardless of best practices. Or on the other end having a new Sgt who want to be gung-ho and crack heads to show he means business. These actions do not translate into the civilian sector. It is simply bad business. When he discusses starting over he is discussing getting out of your comfort zone. The military is tribal. You dress alike, act alike and say the same things. Being away from that is very stressful and without proper guidance or understanding, you will resort to your training and culture which translates into not fitting in with corporate culture or being able to relate to those you work around.

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    • Great points!

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    • Matt,

      You are correct that this is something private sector HR Depts. and hiring managers need to learn and educate themselves on, however the organizations are not there to make the transition easier for military members. They are there to supply the business with qualified candidates. Being a veteran and now a hiring manager for a DC I only look for qualified candidates that can make an immediate impact–Though I would love for those candidates to be my military brothers, they usually aren’t. I don’t have the time and or resources to learn what a candidate might bring to the table. I just need you to come in and immediately understand how my business works. The most effective way for someone who is transitioning to learn about the private sector is to start hanging out with people that are in the private sector well before you leave the service. Also attend industry trade shows, take civilian training courses. If you plan ahead and make the transition in your career and most importantly in your life and acquaintances. It will make landing that corporate job a lot easier and you will not have to rely on anyone to learn about your culture and accept where you are coming from.

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      • Perhaps you are forgetting one important quality of our Military….we are TRAINABLE. Unless your business is something that is straightforward,, I think you’re asking a lot for someone to come in and make the immediate impact that you’re looking for. I think it is a bit dis-disillusioned that industry is seeking that “perfect” candidate. In my opinion, there’s no such thing. Most Military members are still deployed and cannot frequent the industry days you referred to. And once they return, there may not be any industry days nearby to even attend. However, if you ARE finding them, good for you. At least someone is trying to hire us.

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    • Good job proving his point.

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    • i completely agree

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  4. Some very good points, and not all are exclusive to transitioning military. A resume may lead to a human to human interaction, but at the end of the day, it comes down to personalities. Arriving at an interview with the expectation of receiving basic company information available on the internet is a obvious “non-starter” Have to do your reconnaissance.

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  5. I am interested in your comment, “Many may blame the new Transition GPS”. How so? Examples? I am a TGPS Employment Workshop Facilitator and I stress every one of your points from this article. Now, does the transitioning veteran choose to use the tools presented during the three day workshop? That is the question. I see a lot of reluctance to accept what is considered industry standard. You can lead a veteran to success but you can’t make them embrace it.

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    • As a recently transitioned service member; I would say this about GPS. GPS is a great program for the allotted time they have with each of us. Some classes may be better than others given the variance in instructors. But the one thing that must be remembered when trying to put blame on any transition assistance program is that it ultimately falls on you to prepare. each individual NEEDS to practice and apply what they have learned to be successful in an interview or even in creating a resume. Another thing I will mention is that it is highly likely that those who blame GPS for their subpar performance in the their job search were probably the one’s who didn’t take the class seriously. Great article though, I have lived these lessons in the countless “practice” (with real companies) and this is spot on. One thing that has worked like clock work for me in each interview is remembering to just be a person. We are not on the drill field or even sitting on a board anymore. Just make the person or persons on the other side of the interview table like you. Even if you’re not the best candidate on paper you may still get the job because the hiring manager can identify with you as a likable human.

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  6. I’ve deployed twice. Once as an enlisted soldier and once as an officer. I’ve been on active duty and been in the national guard. I’ve worked for tips and for salary. I’ve worked on the hiring side of the table for several job/career fairs and I can’t stress enough how accurate this article is (in general). Oh you were in the Navy from 1983-1987? Wow! You’re a hero with invaluable job skills! I wish I was exaggerating, but that’s what so many veterans want to hear. The most accurate part of this article is how poorly written most resumes are. Recruiters don’t speak in your jargon and have no idea what those acronyms mean. I’ve personally experienced a situation where a veteran volunteered that he didn’t know how he was supposed to include his military service on his resume… Seriously? How about a sentence?

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  7. This is a good article, but with anything the writer gives his opinion on how he thinks operate not industry standards. The article is also slanted towards “I got my job” and if I don’t like you, I will not help you. I was a senior NCO with twenty-three years of service, Masters degree and have added a new skill yearly sense retirement. I couldn’t find a job so I went through a temp agency and have worked a (one) for four years. I reached out to Orion, Lucas and countless other organizations for assistance. So folks I will give you my two cents; “Your bronze star, your purple heart, an Honorable discharge, your college educations and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee off the dollar menu at McDonald’s (and by the way they will not hire you either).” The key is “boots on the ground” and no one will help you but you.

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    • Mr. Piland: My second career is as an disabled veteran employment counselor and, after reading your post, I must recommend that you proofread first, and then have someone else proofread your resume. Possession of a Master’s degree should be reflected in your grammar, spelling, and correct word choice, i.e., using “sense” instead of “since”. Thank you for your service, and remember – somewhere, someone is looking for exactly what you have to offer. Don’t give up, & good luck!

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      • Niteflyer, you are my hero (although using a comma before the word “and” is a bit gauche, don’t you think?).

        Mr. Piland- I help Military Veterans transition into the job market and I see Veterans exhibit at least two of these traits every day. I would recommend that in your search for your next career you learn from others’ mistakes and excel; but no one gets there alone.

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  8. Spot on! I completed a 6 year AF enlistment and earned the rank of Staff Sergeant. I completed 3 years worth of college while in uniform and finished my bachelors in less than 1 year after separating. Instead of viewing my military service as “free ticket” to the job I wanted, I simply looked at it as a slight leg up from new college grads with only retail or restaurant experience. I eventually competed for and was selected for an UNPAID internship where I was able to gain the only TRUE meat to any resume, direct experience. I went from leading troops as an NCO to fetching coffee and making endless copies FOR FREE. While it wasn’t an easy pill to swallow, I understood my current situation (which I chose) and made the best of it. I had to accept that fact that I was the FNG/E-1 in this company’s eyes and had to make my mark in any way that I could. It took 2 years from separation to make what I was in the AF and now I’m proud to be making much more and living where I want to and not where Uncle Sam needs me.

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    • Great comment Jake. In 1984 when I seperated from the Air Force I looked at the opportunity to get a college degree in the same manner – a must. Prospective employers didn’t notice my military background and while I was dissapointed 30 years ago, the same happens today. I worked 2 jobs to put myself through college and leaned on my military discipline to complete college in record time as well. Being an FNG isn’t a bad thing, it helps one’s humility. I have since gone on to get my MBA as well and work for a top 4 bank earning a great living… I have my AF drill seargent to thank as I hear him telling me to suck it up when I feel sorry for myself.

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  9. Very interesting article as I was reading this I thought to myself “These are the same concerns that I have had”, but the thing is this. I have already done all these things without going through the ACAP process. I have a LINKEDIN account and a resume that has been reviewed by LTC in the Air National Guard as well as a GS-11 and GS-14 cilivian employee. My question to you is this, if I have done all these things and have managed to obtain my BS in Criminal Justice Administration and have focused my resume towards the jobs I am looking at. What steps do you think I should take to better myslef in the job market.

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  10. Sultan, This is a great article and certainly should open the eyes of transitioning service members. I recently retired after nearly 30 years and while I know I’m “starting over” I don’t think starting over should translate into entry-level (possibly minimum wage) opportunities when I took a concentrated effort to further my education and experience. Where I get frustrated is if the corporate sector knows “what” we bring to the table, then why doesn’t corporate America have more of a process to assist the veteran in this transition? I look at the job postings and I know I’m qualified for the position but feel like I would be insulting somebody’s intellect if I cut and pasted the keywords into a resume. And if the keyword is misspelled on the post, it probably needs to be misspelled in my resume (I don’t handle the little red underline very well).
    I will keep plugging away applying for the jobs I know will continue to fuel my passion. In nearly 30 years of service I never had a day where I didn’t want to put on the uniform. Now I want to hang that loyalty and dedication on a corporate position.

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  11. Great article, this is exactly what a lot of us need(ed) to hear when exiting the military. I for one was told E-5 = GS-9. So that is what I applied for. I love the description you gave about going from Corporate to Military. When you look at it that way it makes even less sense.

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  12. A great article and a lot of common sense. I am a retiree from the British Army after 25 years service and the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. I have moved many, many times during my career, had steep learning curves as many people have detailed. I earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees during AD, and sought out voluntary positions to gained experience in the field of those qual’s. I have now moved to the US with my family and seeking employment has been more difficult than I anticipated, not only with being a transitioning soldier, and moving overseas, but also the licensure requirements for my particular career field.

    Fortunately I am humble; I know where I need to set my foundations, and I have accepted an entry-level position in a great company where there is potential for progress. Not only that, but if I choose to move on at a later date, the company will be recognized by future employers. Another bonus is that the position has much less stress and responsibility than I had in the military, which I am hoping will translate into a more relaxed me, and therefore a more relaxed family.

    Many of us veterans do have a lot to offer employers beyond the ‘required competencies/skills’ listed in the job ad. Creat a resume that gets you the interview, once there, that chance provides you with an opportunity to sell yourself. The best bit of advice I could offer here is to be honest, and to be yourself. If it feels right, there’s a good chance that it will be right. As has been said before, sometimes it is more of how you ‘feel’ to the interviewer that determines whether or not you will be successful.

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    • Take it by the numbers, like the military first things first. Start with an assessement of your self. Ask these questions. What do I have to bring to the table? What do I have that will set me apart from other candidates? Do I have the required compentencies and skills’ that are listed in the Job ad? If you feel good with your answers; contact your local DVOP/LVER for assistance. Usually the DVOP’s and LVER’s have labor market information and many Companies contact them when they are looking to hire Veterans. Finally, write that “Award Winning Resume” that will land you the interview. Then convience your inteviewer that you are the one that will move the organization in any direction. Additional information on locating your local DVOP and LVER are attaced:
      http://dvoplverlocator.nvti.ucdenver.edu/

  13. I thought this article to be very interesting. As an employment specialist i service veterans and civilians every day for employment advice and this information is good for anyone in the job market. Some people don’t have a clue on where to start because they have made so much money on a previous job. It is so different in today’s society and many jobs are not paying no where near what they use to make. Last week alot of people showed up only because the extended unemployment benefits ended. I always “keep it real” with customers and try to lead them down a positive career path. If their email address sounds offessive, resume is too long, have too many letters of recommendation, i suggest that they correct it

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  14. Con’t–.Many people are going to have to settle for temporary jobs, until they can find something better.

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  15. I can certainly attest to the validity of most points the author makes. On a critical note, the observation that some make about veterans’ abilities to rapidly morph into new units, ascend steep learning curves and hold themselves responsible for immediate performance objectives is spot on; it is unique hallmark of successful non-commissioned and commissioned officers. The reality is that most civilian corporations do not comprehend this aspect. We can argue all we want that we are capable of doing the job and learning very quickly, and in many cases could do so, but most civilian hiring officials place a higher premium on experience in their fields. This is an industry-neutral discriminator that veterans have to overcome and learn how to market themselves to compete with their new class of peers in the civilian world.

    From my own recent experience, I’ve had many a conversation with Big-4 consulting firms and other Fortune 500 companies and illustrated how I ran billion-dollar programs at the Army level. Impressed were they? Usually, yes… but then the question: “So… what kind of corporate experience do you have outside the military?” Answer: none. It is much like the author’s point about the military not recruiting Generals and Sergeants Major off the street; it takes time to grow and groom them as their industry experience is what makes them invaluable. Adjusting to this reality, accepting a willingness to start from scratch and getting the foot in the door leads to a better opportunity to prove your value and demonstrate what made you successful in the military.

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  16. Interesting article, loads of good information however there are a few things that are left out for the transitioning service member.

    Who to ask to help filling out this award winning resume and how much to expect to pay for the service? Most employment agencies are was mentioned before, don’t have a clue to what some of the buzz words we use in the military mean in the civilian sector. Nor can they translate everything one does in the military into a skill which civilian employers value.

    How to taylor your resume to fit the job you are applying for and to include the right keywords to make your resume standout from the others? We are told this by mutitudes of experts and yet not many can define what keywords are needed for each job. It would be nice to know the process of how the computer algorithims sort applicants by the bases of the particular keywords and where one can find all of the specific ones to include in their resume.

    How long can one reasonably expect to be searching for a job until you are hired? The average job search can take more than a year and transitioning military members need to be aware to have how many months of savings that they need to have in the bank.

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  17. One of the toughest things for a senior officer to do is to walk into a new job and not try to immediately start “making things better.” That’s been our mentality (and expectations by most of our former bosses) for 30 year or more. Well, that mentality will get you fired … probably not even hired. Particularly “sinful” is the transitioning officer/leader who believes his or her “road to success” is better than what their new bosses are telling them to follow. I spoke with one executive who had hired a GO, only to let him go 6 weeks later because the gent wouldn’t follow the processes and procedures that the company dictated/expected from its senior managers. The GO knew better … he was smarter, more confident, and very authoritative in his approach, despite a couple of discussion with his bosses about adhering to company policies. He was fired. Pay attention … do what you’re asked/told to do. Once you have established yourself and have garnered some respect and admiration for your work, then bring up those issues you feel could be made better. Until then, keep your head down and the shoulder to the grindstone … kind of like you did as a new 2Lt.

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  18. Many important points were shared here; this is great advice. I left the USAF nearly 40 years ago and transitioned back to civilian life. I had been a communications officer. I spent the time and money to get some career advice and to polish my resume, which spoke to my accomplishments in a way that world resonate in civilian business. Everyone I met or interviewed with was impressed. The problem I encountered was on of leveling. As a First Lieutenant and Captain, I had managed a team of 45 maintenance technicians in Europe and had a $12 million equipment account. I then moved to a headquarters position and gave management guidance to communications units throughout Europe. Few civilian hiring executives believed I would be willing to start at the bottom., which was exacerbated by a recessionary hiring market (1975). I could have use some advice from people who had made a similar transition but did not know anyone. Without the Internet, information was not as readily available. I briefly returned to commercial radio news reporting, which I had done before entering the USAF but found may way into executive recruiting and later retained search. I now do mentoring and coaching and am an adjunct professor. My military years are one of the defining periods of my life; I would not trade it for anything. I wish that people like Mr. Camp had been available to me then.

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  19. Also remember you are no longer in an ARE (Acronym Rich Enviornment). Try to limit your use of acronyms to those the interviewer is using.

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  20. Sultan,
    Thank you for your article. It has many great common sense suggestions and reminders for all job seekers. However, I found the title misleading (and unsettling) as your information is not exclusive to Military. Additionally, I believe your article should be proofread, again. ;) (But, hey, everyone makes little writing mistakes.). And I am hoping your article was written in the spirit of helping transitioning Military Veterans by trying to give them an edge with your suggestions and or reminders. :)

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  21. Thank you for recognizing military service. However, I think the title of your essay should be changed. As soon as I read the title, I decided right away that I never want to work for your company. Why? Because you stated 9 reasons you won’t hire me.

    As I started reading this I thought this might be somewhat beneficial to read. I quickly lost interest as I read on.

    Although you are a veteran yourself, you seem like it’s a chore to even consider a veteran for a position, and some of your points are the the exact things that discourage veterans from seeking work after one or two years of unemployment. We are willing and desperate for work, but you’ve already said at the top of your essay, “Not only will I not hire you, but here are nine reasons why.”

    What I would really like to see is an article written with this title: “Congratulations on Your Military Service… Now Here Are 9 Reasons Why I Will Hire You.”

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  22. Enjoyed the article and the recommendations.

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  23. After 30 years of active duty service and attending TAP ( Now GPS) class twice, I think was prepared to transit to a civilian job. Most of the points in this article were used and extremely helpful. I did see that all didn’t have to come into play, because everyone’s job search and circumstance varies. I was able to interveiw with several companies, while on terminal leave, and chose the one that was a better fit for me. One interview was strictly for practice and gaining interviewing experience, really had no interest in the position they hiring for. I say gather all the info you can and use what’s going to to help you in your job search for the job you really want.

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  24. Nice article. Most all very true. I was very lucky when I retired after 29 + years. Had a good friend in civilian world who wanted me to work for his organization. Transitioned within one week after retirement. Did not go on vacation like I wanted. But was glad it worked for me. My recommendation to all who are retiring or just retired is hook up with a Veteran friend who is already working the civilian world , they are some of the best help you can receive and get a good job. Veterans help veterans. !! One important thing I found out was – as soon as you retire – you are just another civilian !! No salutes, No standing up for you, and no- Yes Sirs. Quite a different world, and it takes time to make the adjustment. I found out that one of the big differences in civilian world is the US Military Retirement Check that goes from the US Treasury to your checking account. Civilian are very aware of how much you earn, and kind of gage you in this fashion. All in all there are many jobs for Veterans in the civilian world, just look for them and forget you were in the military when you land one. You need to start fresh. Good Luck !! Thank You For Your Honorable Service!!

  25. Good advice for active folks with no civilian experience.

    Would like to see an article, (and I have yet to see one, ever) about findings and the complexities of searching for employment while a member of the National Guard or Reserves. With all the deployments, it seems either getting out or trying to reassure employers you wont get deployed (probably) is the way to go, but Id like to hear other folks experiences.

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  26. The article is a very well rounded start for the post military career. I see a lot of caviling (sniping) at many of the suggestions offered. Just remember, there is no perfect solution that fits everyone. The take-away from the article is that you have to prepare just like it was a mission you were undertaking.

    I served from 1969 to 1995 in the Air Force as both enlisted and officer. I had a lot of great jobs and met a ton of outstanding people. When I started interviewing, no one I interviewed with had served one day in any branch. My first interview had 7 people on one side of the table and I was the lone soul on the other. A MOAA seminar I attended a week before my interview mentioned this type of interview was occurring more often. And, bang! there I was. Had I not heard it mentioned, I might have rolled over and died. But I hung in and got a job offer that started a whole new career for me in private education. Andin the 18 years of retirement, I moved a bunch (sound familiar?), 6 times in the first 10 years. I have found a home and have been in my current position for the past 8 years.

    The bottom line in searching for a job is that you have to find all the resources available to you from veteran’s associations, to vets you personal know, to the internet to get information on employers to prepare your “assault.” You must spend time crafting your resume and cover letter. That means finding someone, hopefully more, sharper and smarter than yourself who is outside the military. You will never catch all the stuff that needs to be fixed. They might.

    I have read thousands and I can tell you that one quick glance is sometimes all you get. If something stands out, it may get read in more detail. None of us have the time to read every word. Formatting counts; pretty is better than ugly. But, it’s still the words that get read. But ugliness ensures it will reach the garbage faster.

    You must dress appropriately. Make sure your clothes fit and that they are clean. Don’t lean on my desk. It’s not a bed. And yes, people have done that.

    I have a personal dislike of posting resumes on-line. You can search the boards and then get the information you need to send a resume directly. If there is a name in the ad, use it! I trash every resume that is not sent to my attention because I figure they are too dumb to work for me. If they can’t follow the instruction that says send to: they can’t follow directions.

    Finding a job is a full time job. Take it seriously. It is best accomplished in your time before you separate from active duty if you can. I was very fortunate that I was hired and had almost 70 days in the bank plus transition time. I left active duty on Friday and started driving to my new job Saturday. Starting a new job was like a vacation. It was absolutely fabulous to be so absorbed again in something completely new. My wife used to call me at night and let me know it was time to stop having fun. And to this day, it continues to be the same good time. I wish you all well.

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  27. Really good information. I am a retired National Guard Senior NCO that has been on deployments since 2001. I have decided to transition into a logistical industry management position from a customer service employment history that ended in 2001. I have been working with several Veteran services for employment and seem to be missing the mark and am not sure why. This article has given me additional avenues to pursue. I would appreciate any further insights that would assist me in my pursuit of a new career.
    Thanks again for the insight Mr. Camp

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  28. Outstanding article. I love the 9 reasons. I just wrote a new blog post and referred my readers back to your article. I am planning on dedicating an episode of the Lead Like a Marine Podcast to your valuable information. I will most definitely refer my listeners back to your article. Keep up the great work!

  29. Mr. Camp, overall, great article!!!! However, I don’t agree with the segment on social networking sites. I have had a lot of issues with social networking sites. My first social site I had was on Facebook. Someone got a hold of my email address and started sending spam emails with it. Also, I don’t want someone, that doesn’t like me, to see that I have a social site page and start sending me hateful emails as I have had that happen before. I’m concerned that if an employer sees that on any social networking site, that employer will get the wrong opinion of me. Personally, I think if employers are turning to social network sites to determine if they want to hire someone is enough to send chills down my spine. The question, coming to my mind, is “DO THEY REALLY WANT TO CONSIDER ME FOR THE POSITION OR THEY TRYING TO DIG INTO MY PERSONAL BUSINESS?” Sorry to have to make this negative comment about social networking sites, but it’s a reality that some people don’t want to face. Finally, I think that with Facebook facing a possible class-action lawsuit against them that employers would want to quit searching social networking sites for now.

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    • Sultan Camp

      Thanks for the candid feedback David! Here’s an article that provides some insight on that very thing. The job market is really transforming in terms of the transparency of potential candidates. Let me know what you think. http://bit.ly/1fgzeuw

    • David, the landscape of social and professional media has changed and/or evolved from what you’ve just described. Recruiters aren’t using your personal social site to make hiring decisions, but they may use it to contact you, or market TO you, just like any other advertisement.
      As far as “hateful emails/messages” that you’ve mentioned, all modern social/pro media sites have options that allow you to control what is public on your page (see Sultan’s link). Nobody should be able to see anything that you don’t want them to see. We live in a very public, over-sharing society, but that doesn’t mean that we all have to be over-sharers. Social and professional media are a GREAT way to keep in touch, socialize and share valuable information, and in most cases today, they are how someone got connected to their next career… it doesn’t have to be a negative experience if we have the right tools.

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  30. I’m a USMA grad and entered industry at the beginning of the formal movement to recruit, present and engage JMOs. I’ve hired many transitioning service members from junior enlisted to senior NCO to JMO to senior officers. My success rate is less than 30% because they have failed in industry.
    Good points made in the article. I can agree and endorse all with a few to add and some to embellish.
    Start over -yes. That’s what happens in business when you change industries or even corporate cultures. The focus should not be on proving yourself, but on LEARNING the industry, technology and company culture. It’s all about doing the job, pleasing your boss and getting along with everyone. This belief that you expose your superior talents and managerial skills to industry so they can suddenly discover your amazing talents is not the case. It also fosters the belief that industry is filled with nincompoops and bozos who desperately need the managerial bazinga of the veteran.
    Identify your career path in the first company you join out of the military – ridiculous. How about find a job that does not restrict future opportunities, master it and perform well. Few if any in business today stays in the same company or even industry. So charting a decades long pathway from the first company based upon on their perceived personnel policies is just a dumb waste of time. Everyone is the custodian of their own career path. The military might have a clear path to promotion defined, published and practiced, but industry does not.
    Finally, while the nation owes a debt to veterans and we in the older generation are psychologically disposed to avoid repeating the way our contemporaries were treated post Vietnam, if you think we owe you a path to success – get over yourself. If entitlement creeps into the equation you’ll be on the path to failure.

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  31. I need this article. Time to do some changing and work. I have one question my military training was very job specific. When I left the military I went to school for management, administration and concentrated on human resources. I accepted a GS-5 position in pharmacy because that was my army job in hopes I would be able to cross over based on education. I now have a masters in administration concentration human resources but I get notifications when I apply for positions for GS-5 HR positions that I do not meet the education requirements, or experience so end up not eligible. Yet GS-6 positions I get referred to hiring official (then the job gets canceled of course) Where am I going wrong.

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  32. Interesting article, even if I disagree with the points. I’m a vet that was discharged some time ago who just completed a VA training program to acquire new job skills.

    1. You Can’t (or Won’t) Accept That You’re Starting Over
    I’m not a strategic nuclear missile technician looking for a job in the private sector as a strategic nuclear missile technician. I’m an ex-GI whose time in service moved me up through the ranks, and I’m a veteran who has completed training courses in current IT subjects. I should still start over in an entry level job with just any employer and not apply for IT positions directly? Really?

    As a second issue, do you have any idea how many recruiters and employers fail to equate rank with supervisory experience? All of them, without exception.

    2. You Believe You’re Unique (Just Like Every Other Transitioning Person That Day)
    I don’t have something special or unique that distinguishes me from other applicants? I don’t have qualifications that make me stand out from the crowd? What was the purpose of my education? Why am I applying for the job?

    3. Your Resume Is Longer Than the CEO of Our Company’s (or Shorter Than a Recent College Graduate’s)
    The first three pages of my resume cover the last 18 years of my work history. The next four pages of it are broken off with a page break as additional information based on recruiters’ questions during initial phone interviews. The first three pages have been reviewed by countless recruiters who pronounce those three pages fit for dissemination because they are easily read in less than 60 seconds; the important stuff is read in 15 seconds from the first page.

    4. You Didn’t Proofread Your Resume
    My resume has been proofread at each and every editing change. More importantly, it’s better prepared than most job postings, because it’s logically organized and makes sense.

    5. You Don’t Have a LinkedIn Profile (Or, Even Worse, It’s Not Complete)
    My LinkedIn Profile goes back 20 years, and covers all periods of employment in my occupational field. One more page on the resume, and it, too, would go back 20 years.

    6. You Think Social Media Is For Kids or Sharing War Stories
    All social media is formal and professional? Really?

    7. You Didn’t Prepare For The Interview
    I usually spend a good half hour researching the company online before an interview, and I can describe the business better than any recruiter and as well as any current company employee. I’m on time for the interview, and I’m dressed well. I have a copy of my resume, even when you don’t. I clear off two hours for the interview, even though the average appears to be 20 minutes. My interview answers ar equick, clear, concise, and complete – less than 60 seconds per answer.

    8. You Wrote a Thank You Note (But Only to Say Thank You)
    I have something to add that wasn’t presented (or solicited) in the interview? How about I showed up well dressed and early, I gave quick, complete, concise, and clear answers to all your interview questions, had a copy of my resume when you didn’t, and the interview still took 20 minutes. The thank you letter should add details or perspectives you didn’t think worth soliciting in the interview? Really?

    9. You Don’t Know What You Want to Do
    I spent hours poring over online job postings to find your job posting. I spent 15 minutes duplicating information onto your web site from my resume because your web site feeds an applicant tracking system. I spent 10 minutes on a “initial phone screen” with your HR department. I spent a half hour researching your company to become familiar with the service it provides, and I know it better than my interviewer. I carved out two hours out of my day of job hunting at your convenience to attend the interview, I showed up on time and dressed well (business professional is now quite easy to pull together). I lost a half hour because the interviewer was late, and was out of there 20 minutes later because my answers were quick, clear, concise, and complete, I still expressed gratitude to the interviewer at the opportunity to interview. I now have an unproductive hour free because your interviewer wrote down my answers to his/her scripted questions, promised those answers would be reviewed by the hiring manager, and informed me that the hiring process would run at least a week before any decision would be formulated. I went home, hunted down an address to someone (you didn’t offer me a card with your e-mail address) and still composed and dispatched a thank you e-mail over the opportunity to interview.

    I think I’ve demonstrated that I want to work for your company. Care to try me?

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  33. Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your website?

    My blog site is in the very same niche as yours and my visitors would truly benefit from some of the
    information you present here. Please let me know if this ok with you.
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  34. What a vary refreshing and upfront article. In reflection, this article is quite informative and gives a good impression of how easy it is to see yourself from the other side. I enjoyed it and will certainly consider every aspect when applying/interviewing for another opportunity.

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