After 10 wonderful years, I transitioned from the Army, excited to move into the civilian market. I just knew that my marketable military skills would jump off my resume and people would be lining up to hire me (insert misguided optimism here).

Boy, was I wrong. Not only was I not getting hired, I wasn’t even getting calls to get interviewed, which was pretty depressing.  I started feeling sorry for myself and started to rethink my decision to leave the military.

That was, until I applied the very same skills I got from the Army into my job search. I realized that my whole job search process was wrong and outdated. Below are some questions I asked myself in my new and improved job search.

  1. Is the industry hiring?

In the planning of your job search, it is important to make sure that there is projected growth in that industry. For example, if you’re looking for a job in a company that fixes VCR’s, maybe that’s the wrong move.  You can send out resumes all you want, but there is simply not a need for this position anymore as VCR’s are mostly obsolete.

A great place to look for potential industry growth for your job is Job Outlook. Some items you may want to pay attention to is projected job growth, average salary, and the entry-level education that is required. There is no sense in raking your brain about why you’re not getting hired when there are no jobs to get hired in.

  1. Does my resume say I’m a great fit?

Even though the military provides us with great skills and experience, that does not mean that our resume conveys that. Even when you are not switching industries, a lot of us think that the hiring manager will just know that we are a top-notch employee—not the case. In my own job search, I had to look at my resume, objectively. One of the items of note was that it was not tailored to the position I applied to. I had my accomplishments listed; however, it literally had nothing to do with the experience that the position required. Think of the job announcement as a question and your resume as answers to those questions.

For example if the job announcement states: must have Microsoft products, your resume should state created daily headcount reports utilizing Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Analysis from v look ups, pivot tables, and macros led to increased employee retention by 13%.  Give specifics! If you improved a process in your company, describe how, when, and by how much.

  1. Do you give a great Interview?

First thing is being presentable. This is non-negotiable, and yes, appearance matters. I once was on an interview panel where the applicants’ choice of high-heels was discussed. It gets real in there. Do not give them a reason not to hire you. Another item to mention is to come prepared. Bring extra copies of your resume, just in case. It’s a good sign if and when someone asks for your resume as they may want to give it to someone who is unavailable.

Another thing that people forget is to ask questions. Prior to my interviews, I look up three great facts about the company. Any charity work, a recent award or recognition for the company or a new product or service they offer. This shows that you are invested and interested in THEIR company, not just applying to anyone all the time. Give specifics.

The last thing, which is something I had to work on a lot myself is showing your dazzling personality.  Contrary to popular belief, they are not hiring robots yet, so try not to act like one. Go in there and smile, and give great eye contact. Look happy to be there and show it in your body language. Leave them feeling like you would be a great person to work with! I like to give one personal item of uniqueness about me: this shows you have a life outside of work and it gives them something to remember you by. Trying your hand at surfing, learning a new language, visited a cool place. Whatever it is (as long as it’s appropriate), let them know! Try to connect with them.

I could go on and on about the lessons I’ve learned and tips I’ve received. Catch me next time when I talk about how to perfect the perfect resume.  Until next time, keep it nice y’all.

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