How To Talk About Your Military Experience In A Job Interview

Tuesday, 23 May

Military veterans often find it difficult to transition into the civilian workforce. A recent study showed that 74% of post-9/11 Veterans believe that it will be harder for them to find work than non-military civilians with the same experience! While military work and life can indeed be very different, military skills are transferrable. If you’re a veteran, here are some ways that you can highlight your experience to a potential interviewer or recruiter and show how they make you qualified for the civilian job you’re applying for:

Don’t overuse military jargon.

There’s a lot of jargon and acronyms in the military  – and, if you use them, your potential employer probably won’t have any idea of what you’re talking about. If you absolutely must use a military term, translate it for your interviewer and tell them what it means. Use everyday terms, with the most basic language possible to communicate, even when you’re explaining an advanced concept.

Demonstrate the skills needed with your accomplishments.

Sometimes the best way to talk about military achievements in a business context is to highlight the accomplishments, rewards, and goals you were able to reach. Share the projects and awards that you are proud of, and what skills you used to achieve them – and how they relate now to the job you’re seeking.

Think beyond task-oriented skills.

Military training gives you more than specific skills. Attributes like good work-ethic, adaptability, problem-solving, and leadership abilities are commonly inherit with military discipline, which many employers will find advantageous to the open position and their team. Give stories and examples that illustrate how military-instilled qualities like this have helped you during your military service, and how you might use them in your new job.

Ask about their hierarchy.

The military has a clear systematic hierarchy system. The ranking system may not be as clear in their corporate culture. Ask about the chain of command and, if interested, inquire about how to grow and get promoted. This will help you understand the inner workings of the organization, as well as show that you respect – and perhaps even aspire to be a part of – their leadership.

Show your appreciation for safety and procedures.

Most veterans have had to adhere to strict procedures that help protect their military unit, and allow it to function well. Concern for safety, with quick response in an emergency, is crucial for survival. For the employers we work with, this is a huge asset on the job site as well, so make sure to communicate your experience and practice with this in the military.

At Madden, we understand the unique value that Military Veterans offer to our employers. If you’re a Military Veteran, and need a job in your craft, we want to help. We’re proud to say that we go out of our way to hire vets, and we’re looking for skilled industrial craftsmen right now.

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