3.5 Steps to a Successful Transition
Excited and nervous your adrenaline is pumping as you sit at the exit door. The postage stamp sized earth below continues to shrink. The wind buffets through the door and in an instant the jump master gives you the signal.
As you free fall, your pack securely attached, you begin to try to remember all that your instructor taught you many months ago in preparation for your first jump. You rapidly try to recall the brochures on skydiving that they gave you at the 8-hour training that you attended at the time.
When do you pull the cord? What altitude? Where did they put the cord? How do you steer your body in free fall? You thought you would just remember after you jumped?
Sounds ridiculous, but this is exactly what hundreds of thousands of veterans have gone through before, during and after separation. You received a class or two of transition a few months before you transitioned where speakers and experts alike threw up all over your desk and then walked away but not before leaving you mounds of flyers, a plethora of phone numbers to call if you need help, and little follow up. You were meaning to get to a transition plan, but your current call of duty kept you focused on the “here and now”, not the “when you get out”.
In this column we will focus on real world steps to success in transitioning.
Know this. Companies want to hire you. In an interview I conducted with the CEO of WD-40 Company Garry Ridge on the TV show Operation American Dream I asked, “Why is it important to WD-40 Company to seek out and hire veterans?” To note, 40% of their hires that year were veterans. “It’s simple.”, he quickly and confidently replied. “There are two things in life you need to be successful in life. Passion and purpose. And veterans are passion driven and inspired by purpose.”
This is the truth. So, why don’t more companies hire you? Great question.
Oddly enough, they don’t know where to find you. And if they find you, they don’t know how to read your resume. And if you get an interview, they don’t know how to interview you well enough to understand who you are and what you can do for them.
Who is to blame? It can be argued that the company needs to put forth effort to find you and to understand your resume and to understand how to interview you. However, you need to do the same. Position yourself in the marketplace to be found, write your resume in corporate lingo and learn to communicate in the interview in a way that they can understand the value you bring to them.
Most recruiters in America have never been in the military. Therefore, no company can expect their Talent Acquisition team to know what they are looking at when a Veteran resume passes by their desk. Most of us with a recruitment background will agree that we are looking for reasons to screen out the hundreds of non-qualified resumes we get daily. If we can’t decipher military acronyms, the resume is usually placed in the “No” pile. But in this great talent shortage, that is obviously a dangerous loss of potential talent.
How valuable are you? A Fortune 100 company did a two-year study in which they compared the activity and productivity of their non-Veteran MBA Managers with the activity and productivity of Veteran non MBA grads. Guess what? The study concluded that the Veteran leaders outperformed their MBA manager counterparts 2:1.
As a previous host of Veteran centric radio and TV shows I’ve interviewed dozens of Executives and business owners who include Veteran hiring into their short- and long-term business strategies. These individuals understand that Veterans uphold a high level of teamwork, remain calm under pressure, are punctual and produce results while maintaining a positive attitude. You are wanted.
Let’s get you to where you want to be.
The secret sauce is your network. One of the ways recruiters find you is by doing searches on LinkedIn. If you are not there you may not be found. Many recruiters immediately go to LinkedIn when they receive your resume to see what other information may be listed. Both profiles need to match. Ask friends, coworkers, and neighbors to connect with you. Your dream job Hiring Manager may be in the connections they have. Most people get their jobs from referrals, not putting resumes and applications in bottomless databases.
A high-level candidate lost the opportunity to interview for his dream job because the VP of HR found a typo on the resume. Companies are inundated with resumes and a type-o may weigh against you and potentially even knock you out of consideration as recruiters are seeking reasons to screen you out. Have several sets of eyes on your resume before you send it out. Translate your skills into civilian speak. You don’t need to pay for a great resume either. There are enough of us who will help you for free.
It’s been said you are judged more on the questions you ask than the ones you answer. So, have a list of great questions to ask after your interview, but don’t ramble during it. It’s understandable that you may be nervous and having your questions ready in advance will give you a distinct advantage at this important stage of any interview.
Use the STAR method. When you are asked a question, answer using the following: “Situation, Task, Action and Result”. We will give real examples of this in next month’s column.
Finally, remember to be yourself. Hiring managers may be a bit nervous about interviewing veterans, so make them feel comfortable. Ask questions that are respectful and sincere like, “How long have you been with the organization, and what initially attracted you to the company?” Everyone likes to talk about themselves and giving interviewers an opportunity to share some of their own experiences is a step forward.
Follow Up or Fall Away
Paul Falcone, a Nationally recognized Human Resources Executive and author of the bestselling book, “96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire,” always recommends sending a thank-you note. It can be in email format sent hours after your meeting. Emphasize your interest in joining the company, highlight the skills and talents you bring based on your understanding of the role, and reconfirm your commitment to making the same contribution to the organization that you’ve made to the U.S. military. Take the opportunity to share your genuine interest and excitement. Passing on it is a miss. Always give them a reason to hire you, and a well written thank-you note may be something they can pass around to others to justify their determination to bring you aboard. Just make sure you spell-check your note before hitting Send!
Got questions? Need help? Don’t jump with out connecting with experts who will help you.
By Eve Nasby
Eve Nasby is a hiring expert with almost three decades invested in these topics. Join her on LinkedIn today.