- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Your Career Transition Alphabet - Part Two: P to Z

by Tom Wolfe, Career Coach and Contributing Editor

Share |


Article Sponsored by: Harris Corporation

Return to January/February 2016 Issue

Return to Page 1 of the article

Uniform of the Day. Although being out of uniform while on duty in the military is problematic, once you leave the military, being out of uniform is likely to be your way of life. With a few notable exceptions (law enforcement, first responders, medical personnel), your days of wearing the uniform of the day are behind you. The standard advice in job hunting is dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Accordingly, do not wear your uniform to interviews. However, there will be a temporary uniform of the day during your search - interviewing attire. Unless you are told otherwise, always wear a traditional interview suit. Although dressing in informal, non-interview attire could be a legitimate cause for rejection, “overdressing” or being too formal will most likely not. Employers will usual cover any non-standard attire needs prior to the interview. If they don’t specify, definitely wear business formal interview attire.

Veterans Preference. Interviewing is not easy. Selling yourself to strangers as a viable contender for a job and performing well enough to beat out all your equally qualified competition is a tall order. Here is a way to make it even harder: Interview with companies that have little or no history of hiring people out of the military. Before you can even try to convince them to hire you, you will first have to sell them on hiring veterans in general. Skip that step. Focus your search on companies with an appreciation for the value of a veteran and a demonstrated track record of hiring them. That way, all you have to do is convince them to hire you.

Weaknesses. A company will never hire the perfect candidate, even if it finds one. Why not? There is no such thing as perfect.

What are your weaknesses? What are you doing about them?

Having the ability to identify a weakness, do something about it and talk about that process with an interviewer is actually a strength. Being able to “turn a negative into a positive” in an interview is key in this regard.

X-ray Vision. Your interview is over. You look the interviewer in the eye, shake hands, re-express your interest, say thank you and leave the room. Standing out in the hall, you pull out your IMVD – Interviewer’s Mind Vision Device. What do you see? Hard to make it out – it’s fuzzy or unclear? A clear picture of you in the job but frowning and/or doing it poorly? A clear picture of you doing a job other than the one he or she is trying to fill? Or, there you are, clear as a bell, doing the job well with a smile on your face? That last vision is your goal.Knowledge, empathy, attitude and showing interest will help create that vision.

You. When you have completed a successful search and landed a great job, who gets the credit? If that great job turns out to be a bad fit, who gets the blame? If you run out of terminal leave days and you have yet to find a job, who is at fault? YOU. It is your military transition, you are in charge and you are responsible for the outcome. Yes, you need help along the way, but in the end, that face in the mirror is yours. Seek guidance and assistance, but stay true to yourself. Be open to new ideas and different opportunities, but don’t misrepresent yourself or compromise your beliefs or ethics in the process.

Zip. When you walk into a room, do the lights go bright or does all of the oxygen disappear? Companies like to hire upbeat, enthusiastic and positive people - ones with zip! You must show that side of you in an interview. For some of you that will be easy – it’s your nature. For others, you will have to work at it. Energy, warmth, smiling - these things not only make you likeable, but also send strong “I am interested” signals.

A thorough understanding and implementation of these concepts and those mentioned in Part One will enhance your chances of winning interviews and landing the right job, the first time.

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

Return to Page 1 of the article

Return to January/February 2016 Issue