En Route: A Career Blog

“Strategies for Veterans to Land a Civilian Job”

AUTHOR: Greg Wood and Tom Stein
CATEGORY:
POSTED: December 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm

If you’re a Veteran and you want to learn the best strategies for transitioning your experience into Civilian employment, you will want to read The Hire Tactics.

Tom Stein and Greg Wood’s The Hire Tactics goes in depth to provide a meaningful “how-to” guide for today’s veteran looking to enter the private employment market. Their approach is very realistic in how they describe the hunt for job seekers; how to cast aside obstacles that may stand in the way and, ultimately, what is needed to land a position.

I was afforded the opportunity to speak with both Tom and Greg. Our questions-and-answers session follows.

In your opinion, how often should a candidate call the Recruiter or Hiring Manager after submitting their resume, without becoming too aggressive?

Squeaky wheels get the grease, but the candidate needs to balance the difference between being viewed as interested, and persistent, or just another desperate job hunter.

Candidates definitely need to follow up after sending their bio, post-interview packet, or after a casual or professional meeting. They should call in about week if they have not heard anything, and if the lead or opportunity runs cold they should stay in touch via LinkedIn and an occasional note. They should view this as a two way relationship. If they had a good experience, they should ask if they can refer their friends and others in the career search. I have never had someone say no to that suggestion. What goes around comes around so candidates should remember to maintain a professional decorum at all times. Recruiters and Hiring Manager have different roles, but they have networks that may be the candidate’s next big lead to a successful employment opportunity!


When discussing salary, you talk about how the person who names a salary first loses. I know in my recruiting world we asked that question right away when speaking with candidates, so we could get an idea if they are in the salary range- one of my clients required they tell us an amount or the candidate would no longer be considered. How do you suggest the candidate work around this?

Negotiate your true worth, not just a salary. Let’s face it: military veterans are not used to negotiating their pay!

I know that negotiating a salary is totally foreign to military personnel. Their salary comes from a table someone in the Pentagon created with who knows what input. Their rank and years in service pretty much determine what their salary and benefits will be. Nothing to negotiate or anyone to negotiate with!

As candidates (both civilian and veteran) carefully assess the various components of their job offer, they need to understand that almost every one of these components can be negotiated! Few companies extend offers that are accepted at face value, and negotiation is expected. Not negotiating can actually be a negative sign to a new employer.

Here’s a question and suggested response from TheHireRoad Audio Interview CD relating to the salary question:

What salary are you looking for?

This question is often asked at the conclusion of the interview and seems to be the hardest one to answer! This one is especially tricky if you are feeling desperate for a job.

Regardless of when this question is asked during the interview process, don’t name a specific number. If really pressed, give only a range. Before the interview you should have an idea of the range for the position based on your research into the job, company, and industry. Ask around. Use websites like LinkedIn and others where you can get estimates.

If this question is asked at the beginning of the interview, your response should be something like:

“At this point in our discussion, I don’t have enough information aboutthe requirements of the position and how my skills and abilities can meet your specific needs. I’m sure toward the end of our meeting I’ll be in a better position to discuss compensation.”

If this question is asked at the end of the interview, your response should be something like,

“Well, based on our discussion today, I think this position is a great fit for me professionally and for your company/organization. I’m sure whatever offer you’d make to me would be very fair.”

OR . . .

“I have done some research on your industry and comparable positions so I know the range you normally offer and would be comfortable with whatever you think is appropriate. You know your needs and what is fair and appropriate for someone with my skills.”

Try not to give a number. That is for the employer to provide. If you have done your research before the interview you should be aware of what dollar value is fair for the position and what can be an insult. Let the employer explain the salary and benefits to you—let them sell you on taking the offer.

Obviously when an employer asks a candidate for his or her previous salary, or desired salary, it is nothing more than a way to screen the candidate out. Previous salary has absolutely no relevance to the job now being considered. The salary to be paid to the candidate, if hired, should be based solely on the value they bring to the job as interpreted by the hiring manager.

HR personnel and in-house recruiters could save everybody a tremendous amount of time by posting salary ranges as part of the job posting. If a candidate knew ahead of time what the salary range for a posted position is, they can determine right away whether it is financially viable and therefore worth pursuing.

What is the most gratifying thing about seeing your book in print?

That the information is available worldwide and anyone can view it and capitalize on what we have broadcasted. Also, access to our methodology can significantly help shorten the time of unemployment for military families. Before aligning ourselves with a major publisher, the visibility for the book was limited to word of mouth and referrals.

Being a published author also helps you expand your network and adds significant credibility to your professional profile.

Do you plan on writing another book or a sequel?

Yes. We plan on developing another book series focused on college graduates. We also are rebuilding our smart media environment. We want to ensure our methodology is available in all possible formats to fulfill the growing customer demand.

How important do you think the resume is for non-military candidates?

This may one of the hardest things for veterans to understand. We in the military have never needed a paper resume to introduce ourselves. We “read” resumes dozens of times a day and did it from 100 feet away! All we had to do was look at a person’s chest to see where and what they have done, and look on the collar or sleeve to see rank and position. Everyone knows who you are while in the military.

But civilian employers require paper resumes. So non-military candidates need to get their thoughts on paper as previously discussed and seek advice. There are thousands of folks like me willing to assist and lighten the load.

Resumes and cover letters have been around since dinosaurs roamed the corporate earth. And like most traditions, they remain necessary components of the candidate’s marketing toolbox. Candidates will need resumes and cover letters because they are critical to the job search process. However, they SHOULD NOT cling to the belief that their resume alone will get them in the door. The myth of the perfect or “killer” resume is just that, a myth. The truth is it’s not happening like that in today’s economy.

The bottom line is this: a resume does a lousy job of conveying a candidate’s value to a potential employer. However, a professional resume is a tradition and is simply a necessary evil; therefore it must be a professional representation of the candidate’s work experience, areas of expertise, accomplishments, and education.

How do you think the candidate should follow-up after the interview?

The Post-Interview Packet is an innovative tool that should definitely be included in the candidate’s arsenal of professional marketing materials. The packet will clearly put them head and shoulders above other candidates competing for the same job.

The Post-Interview Packet should include a cover letter which expresses the candidate’s appreciation for the opportunity to interview, their interest in the company and the position, their reference to the enclosed interview packet, and their keen interest in entertaining an offer. Candidates should end their cover letter with a statement that implies that, after receiving an offer, they look forward to being part of the organization and making an immediate contribution.

The Post-Interview Pack includes:

  1. Value Proposition (written in first person)
  2. Biography and Resume
  3. Management Endorsements
  4. Education,Certifications, and Additional Training
  5. References

What method do you think is most effective for a thank you letter (email or snail mail)?

Hand-written thank-you cards should be sent to all others you met during the interview process with the exception of the hiring manager (who receives the Post-Interview Packet). Personalize each of these cards by referring to something unique about each person you met. I would encourage you to avoid sending an email thank you. I believe they’re impersonal and typically get lost in the myriad of emails that busy managers receive every day.

How did you brand yourself?

We, as co-authors, continue to brand ourselves by conveying our strengths (as certified career management professionals), our passion (helping civilian and veteran jobseekers shorten their time in transition), and what makes us unique (our methodology for strategic job search).

You talk about newly transitioned veterans as being a hiring risk to corporate America. Could you give me some more examples of how they should package themselves and how to overcome the no experience piece, without taking meaningless positions?

Veterans must always remember that only 1% of hiring managers have ever served in the military. Those managers appreciate the value a veteran brings to the table in the private sector. However, the remaining 99%, who have never served, view the hiring of a veteran as a risk because the veteran is considered new to corporate America. These managers will assume the veteran doesn’t know how to behave or that they have no experience in their world. As such, the veteran may need to consider accepting a position at a lower salary in order to secure that first job after transitioning.

Though the veteran may have management and leadership experience, they are still viewed as having no experience in corporate America. Hopefully they can take care of that by properly packaging themselves as they begin to convey their value to the business community and have their very first contact with potential employers.

Veterans need to play it smart! They need to look, listen, and learn, just like they did in the military. Once they establish themselves in the “new world” they are at a great advantage to move on. They have proved themselves as a “value-add” employee and will be in a better position to negotiate future prospects.

Editors Note: Countless studies have shown that professionally-written resumes get more interviews. Compare Resume Writing and Resume Editing to see which of our services is right for you.

Coupon code for 30% off when you purchse from Petersons Books Use code RE30

The Hire Tactics is available from Petersons Books, Amazon and Barnes & Noble

The Hire Tactics

 

Greg Wood and Tom Stein

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Greg Wood is a Certified Career Management Professional, founder of The Hire Challenge™ Career Transition Services, and creator of TheHireRoad™ job search tutorial. He is also the author of The Hire Advantage™ book series for civilian job seekers and co-author of The Hire Tactics™ book series for military veteran job seekers. His corporate background includes domestic and international experience in a variety of industries including executive search, outplacement, publishing, high-technology and healthcare. He has held senior management positions with mid-size as well as major Fortune 500 corporations.

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Tom Stein is a business owner, experienced senior executive, author, and a public speaker.   Prior to working in corporate America, Mr. Stein was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps specializing in Aviation, Logistics, and Operational Threat Analysis  He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and holds numerous degrees and certificates in Aviation, Information Technology, and Education.  As an executive program manager he has held executive positions and designations in his fields of expertise and has worked with Fortune 500 companies like Apple, Dell, Ingram Micro, and WalMart.

As a Certified Career Management Professional (CCMP) he continues to focus on assisting veterans in their career search and transition.  He mentors and teaches classes nationwide to assist veterans in transitioning from military to civilian careers.

 

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