You stand in front of that trendy late night hot spot. You heard about it from Friends or saw an episode on television touting the hottest places to be. You get your crew together and head out to the party. But when you arrive, a Bouncer refuses to let you in because somebody in your group doesn’t meet the dress code.


You don’t get in because you don’t fit in.


You go to the shoe store and spot a great pair of shoes you’ve just got to have. You ask for your size and the Salesperson comes back and tells you that they only have a pair that’s 2 sizes too small. You want these shoes so badly that you figure, what the heck? So, you attempt to cram your foot into a shoe that’s just not made for you.


You don’t get in because you don’t fit in.


You’ve been on a diet. You’ve been watching what you eat. Your exercise regimen even rivals that of your prior-service military days. As you get ready to head out for a night on the town, you spy that pair of skinny jeans and coat in your closet. You know it’s kinda early to make such an attempt, but you go ahead and try anyway.


You don’t get in because you don’t fit in – not yet, but keep working toward it!


So, what does this have to do with the military-to-civilian career transition?


Should you be fortunate to make it past the online application and get an actual face-to-face interview, keep a few things in mind:


Dress Code

You need to dress to impress! Do not slack up on your dress code. Before you go to your interview, do your homework on what to wear. You can be the sharpest job candidate in terms of experience, knowledge, and potential, but if you fail to dress appropriately, you can kiss your chances goodbye.


If the Shoe Fits

Your military experience offered you an opportunity to learn so many cool things! Take a minute and think about that. Where else can you be given so much responsibility? Where else can you lead varied numbers of people to success? Where else can you have the responsibility for the lives of your Co-Workers? (Yes, there are professions where lives are at stake, but does the job you’re applying for involve that?)


The point is, don’t try to cram all of your experiences into a single interview question. Don’t try to cram all of your experience into a single bullet comment on your résumé. Don’t feel as though you need to verbalize every single thing you did while in uniform with every single person you encounter. Try to learn as much about the people you interact with and the job in question as possible.


Free Meal?

OK, there may be an opportunity for you to get some additional face time with your prospective Employer or maybe even the Hiring Manager. This might take the form of meeting existing Employees for lunch or dinner. Don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu. Don’t drink alcohol during normal business hours (i.e. if it is a lunch meeting), and use your best judgment during any interactions over a meal.


Most importantly, remember that you’re always in the interview! Keep your “most professional self” maintained at all times. Be conversational, ask great questions, and provide more in-depth answers to questions you’re asked during the course of the meal. Stay on point.


Don’t let this free meal cost you!

At this point during the military-to-civilian career transition, the Prospective Employer attempts to see if you fit in to the company culture. How well you do will be determined by whether or not you get a callback for additional interviews or maybe you’ll do so well they’ll make you a job offer on the spot.


Just remember, you need to know the difference between getting in and fitting in!

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Community Manager
Community Manager