Although Sultan Camp‘s article titled “Congratulations on Your Military Service… Now Here Are 9 Reasons Why I Won’t Hire You” on the Career Attraction blog is targeted toward those in the military who are transitioning into civilian life and looking for employment it has great advice for jobseekers of any stripe. Let’s take his 9 reasons one by one and look at how they can apply to ‘average’ jobseekers and how we can use his advice to improve our prospects. I’ve decided to tweak his original reasons and turn them into positive affirmations rather than the negative statements he used and I’ve split the article into three parts.
1. Acknowledge that you are starting over
This one really resonated for me and as I thought about many people I’ve met recently and who I’ve known for years here in Victoria it certainly seemed to be something worth taking to heart. Camp was more specifically talking about the difference between the military environment and the experience gained in understanding and functioning within that environment and how, unfortunately, for the most part this does not carry over to the civilian sector.
For me things are somewhat different – I am also looking at having to re-enter the workforce in this field (public health) at the bottom and this is a hard thing to get a grip on, especially when you are older and have just completed advanced education (in my case a Master’s degree in International Health from Uppsala University in Sweden). Luckily though I do not have to ‘relearn’ how things work in this employment arena as I think I have a pretty good grasp of corporate culture (a benefit of being older – see there are some perks to these gray hairs). My classmates are in much the same position and many of them are facing far tougher employment prospects than me due to their lack of experience in the work world in general as well as the economic climate in their home countries (Indonesia, Romania and Lithuania to name just a few).
What does Camp recommend to come to terms with the potentially jumping-into-cold-water shock of acknowledging that you are starting over? One obvious piece of advice that is too late for me (but maybe not for you if you are still in school or still planning your move to Victoria or still have a job that is paying the bills but that you are anxious to leave behind) is to learn all you can about where you want to end up. This could be broad in terms of focusing on a particular new-to-you field (so for me learning all about Public Health in Victoria – significant people; organizations for those in the profession; employers; culture within the field – organizational structure, demographics of employees; hot issues of the moment – can you say EBOLA!) or narrower focusing on a particular agency (so, again for me, the Office of the Provincial Health Officer in the Ministry of Health here in Victoria would be a good place to focus on).
Another helpful tip is to look for a mentor who has trod the path that you intend to follow. If you are still in school think about those that have graduated before you – see if you can find these people on LinkedIn and make contact with them. Likewise if you are in the workplace but wanting to change to a new career path look for those that have your ‘dream job’ and see if you can make contact with them and ask for their help. I think you might be pleasantly surprised at how much people are willing to assist those who are genuinely trying to reach new goals.
2. Acknowledge that you are not unique (but show that you have something unique to offer)
Camps lays out, rather brutally, the numbers when it comes to those leaving the military in the US (he estimates it’s about 200-300 people per day and this will only increase as the US continues to draw down its forces overseas) versus the job openings posted. Basically, he is saying that posting your resume to job boards and/or relying only on applications to jobs posted on such boards is about as likely to make you rich as depending on a lottery ticket for your income. He isn’t saying that you shouldn’t use these tools (job boards) but rather that you need to come to grips with the fact that you aren’t unique and look for ways to make what you have to offer stand out from that of other jobseekers by posting to niche job boards and making sure your resume is targeting specifically the type of employers likely to be scanning that job board.
3. Acknowledge that your resume is lacking but are committed to improving it
This is a great section with some fabulous immediately actionable advice and some on-target analogies. I love how he likens the resume to a ‘windshield document’ that “should reflect the positions you’re going towards” (as opposed to a rearview mirror document that catalogues all the tasks you’ve performed). And then he tells you how to create this ‘forward looking’ resume:
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.
Other takeaways from these 285 words are: your resume will likely be screened by an automated system so think about keywords (which can be visualized using sites like Wordle or TagCrowd), your resume’s time in front of a human will likely be around 6 seconds – use that time WISELY and finally analyze thoroughly and critically how your resume demonstrates that you meet the requirements the employer is looking for.
If you have some thoughts on any of these three points feel free to comment below or send email to susan at yyjworks.com or Tweet to @YYJWorks. Parts 2 and 3 coming later this week.