- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Spouse Series: The Shoes Have It

by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: LA County Metro

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While researching online late one night (read: mindlessly surfing the net), I ran across a 2012 news article claiming that researchers from the University of Kansas could accurately judge a stranger’s personality simply by looking at the person’s shoes.

The research was old and the hour late, leading me to be both tired and intrigued at the same time. I couldn’t help wondering what those Kansas researchers might deduce about me based on my faux black leather Birkenstocks, circa late last summer.

I wasn’t, however, willing to cough up the $35.95 for the online version of the study to find out. Perhaps they would assess me as being somewhat cheap for that. Whatever.

Even without shelling out dollars for details, anyone could deduce the basic logic involved.

First impressions count.

They particularly count when you and your soon-to-be-civilian spouse are interviewing for your first post military job. You want to make a good first impression. The following tips apply:

• Research the company you are interviewing with well in advance of the big day. Understand their business model and marketplace challenges.

• Show up on time. On time outside of the military environs means five to ten minutes early.

• You may not need to wear Prada or Jimmy Choos shoes to make the best first impression, but do dress appropriately for the position you are targeting and for the industry it is in.

• Bring an extra copy of your resume along with you. You can use it to review your sterling credentials while you’re waiting for the inquisition to begin and you can offer it up to the employer on the off chance he or she doesn’t have a copy.

• Be prepared to speak sans military lingo and use the expected vernacular of the industry itself. If you aren’t sure what that is, get busy finding out before you show your face on game day. Hooah? (Translated: All right?).

• Let the person doing the interviewing sit in the driver’s seat for the duration of the interview. Even interviewers who aren’t very good at the task know it’s their job to take the lead and get things rolling. Don’t steal their glory.

• To calm any nervous butterflies you may be experiencing, breathe deeply. It may help you to think of the interview as a simple meeting between peers rather than your attempt to continue paying your bills on time. Realize that both you and the employer have the same goal here. You both want to learn about each other to see if you are a potential fit for the company and for the position.

• To that end, answer the interviewer’s questions fully. You may be nervous (everyone is) but you want to truly communicate here and not just get through the experience. You also want to come prepared with good questions, too.

• Whatever you do, don’t bring up the topic of salary or benefits first. Let the employer do that instead, and/or wait for a more appropriate time to discuss those areas, e.g., the second interview, site visit or during the job offer stage.

• If the topics of dollars and benefits do come up, be prepared to discuss the matters intelligently. That means that you’ve done some research regarding what the particular career’s salary range is in the given area of the country. You have an acceptable salary range in mind based on that, and - you know the type of benefits that are important to you and your family in this new chapter of your lives.

• At the conclusion of the interview, thank the employer for his or her time. Ask when a selection may be made for position. Reiterate your interest in it. Stand. Make eye contact. Smile. Firmly shake hands and then gracefully leave.

• You can never say thank you to someone enough, so send a short email to the interviewer thus reminding them that you are interested in this post military job.

Now that’s the way to put your best foot forward, shoes and all.

Janet Farley is a job search and workplace issues expert and the author of “The Military Spouse’s Guide to Employment: Smart Job Choices for Mobile Lifestyles,” (Impact Pubs, 2013) and “Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job,” (Jist, Inc. 2013). She is also co-author of “Stories Around the Table: Laughter, Wisdom and Strength in Military Life,” (Elva Resa Publishing, 2014).

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