While the job hunt, the resume crafting and the translation of military skills to civilian jargon are all part of the transition from uniformed service to civilian employment, service members should also remain focused on the interview portion of the process.
“The typical scenario is the veteran pushes out their resumes, attends one of our DAV sponsored job fairs, has an agonizing wait and finally the phone rings and they’ve landed an interview,” said DAV National Employment Director Jeff Hall. “But it’s vital a veteran prepares for the interview.”
Hall said the interview can be one of the most stressful factors in the job search process and offers some advice for transitioning members.
Hall said things to avoid during the interview process are: being late, discussing vacation or sick leave programs right away, answering your cell phone and speaking badly of a previous boss.
“All of these things will be deemed unprofessional by employers,” said Hall. “You’d think things like turning off a cell phone would be common sense, but it’s turned up more than once in my research because people sometimes take calls in the middle of an interview.”
DAV Human Resources Director Randy Reese said while it’s a goal to make an impression on perspective employers job candidates should ensure it’s the right impression.
“I like to remind people age discrimination can work both ways,” Reese said. “Once we were interviewing a candidate and discussing workplace culture and she disclosed she didn’t know if she could work around a bunch of cute, young, recent college graduates.”
Reese said while dressing appropriately for a job interview is important, he also cites an example where honesty and integrity are vital.
“We once interviewed a candidate who had on a very nice suit but wore extremely casual and worn shoes which didn’t match the suit at all,” Reese said. “When we asked about his choice of footwear for what was described ahead of time to him as a formal board interview, he was very honest and open and explained he didn’t have a suit previously and only had enough money for the suit but not to buy shoes and apologized.
“We hired him,” said Reese.
While some candidates may feel a touch of apprehension before the interview, Hall says that’s normal.
But, veterans likely have an advantage during the interview process.
“The military is a culture mired in discipline and respect,” said Hall. “That should carry over to the civilian world when the veteran transitions to civilian employment. Keeping those values in mind will give a distinct plus to the veteran candidate during the job interview phase of transitioning to civilian life.”