- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Thou Shalt Not (Part 2 of 2)

by Tom Wolfe, Career Coach and Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: North Dakota/Good Life

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9. The Ninth Commandment: Thou shalt not fail to acknowledge weaknesses, failures and flaws.
As indicated by these Commandments, there are many causes for a lack of success in interviewing. One common but frequently overlooked reason is setting unrealistic expectations.

Several years ago, a recruiter for one of my client companies surprised me when she said that she long ago gave up trying to hire perfect candidates. In fact, perfection in a candidate was an automatic cause for rejection. Why? When it comes to human beings, there is no such thing as perfection. Given that, she realized that the supposed perfect candidate was indeed flawed in some way, but she had failed to find that flaw. Knowing this undiscovered flaw would come to light in the future, she rejected that candidate rather than running the risk that the flaw could be a fatal one.

This is actually good news for you - you do not have to be perfect to get a great job! Imperfections, failures and weaknesses are part of your package. They key is having the self-awareness to acknowledge them, the insight to know when it is appropriate to discuss them, the self-confidence to admit to them and, most important, the ability to overcome, mitigate, correct or compensate for them. Possession of that key allows you to turn weakness into strength.

10. The Tenth Commandment: Thou shalt not forget to close the sale.
Here’s an exercise for you. Make a list of civilian occupations for which you have some level of interest. Put them in order of preference. As you get deeper into your search, that list will change.

For military personnel transitioning to civilian employment, job hunting is as much about discovery and self-education as it is about landing the right job. But you have to start someplace, right? Take a look at your list. How far down do you have to go to find sales as one of your options? For most of you, that option is near the bottom or not even on the list. There is a logical explanation for that, but we will save that discussion for another day. For today, consider this: Those of you who do have sales on that list will be better interviewers for any type of job than those of you who treat sales like the plague. Why? Interviewing is selling. You (sales rep) have to convince the interviewer (customer) that your product (you) will fill his or her need (the job opening). Successful salespeople share many characteristics and talents. Perhaps the most important among those talents is the ability to look a potential customer in the eye and say please buy my product or I want to be your supplier or l really want your business. This is referred to as asking for the order or closing the sale and it is critical to sales success. The same technique is critical to interview success. Assuming you are truly and sincerely interested in the opportunity, do not leave the interview without first asking for the job.

In summary, remember that there are almost always more good candidates than there are good jobs. The interviewer needs to narrow down the field and he or she can afford to be picky. You have a choice here: Disobey one or more of those Commandments and make it easy for him or her to cross you off the list. Or, make the interviewer work hard to find a reason to reject you. Unable to find reasons to say NO, he or she will start to focus on reasons to say YES - and that leads to interview success!

Tom Wolfe is a Career Coach, Columnist, Author and Veteran and can be found at

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