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Do you ever wonder if the Employer is betting on you. Not in the sense that they actually drop money on the chance that you may or may not get hired, but in the sense that you get their vote as to extending an offer of employment.

This comes in the form of a "Thumbs Up", a "Must Hire", a "Top Candidate", or maybe you scored highest on the Employer's internal rating system as the most viable candidate, or maybe the Employer just likes you and you get the call. When the Employer or the Employer's Team makes that decision and votes on who gets the job, how do you make sure you increase your chances of winning?

I think a lot of it has to do with preparation. You need to move past the ability to simply answer interview questions to being able to the level of how to leave a strong impression. Do you have "canned" responses to interview questions or do you convey in-depth knowledge about what you know? You need to be able to go beyond the well-rehearsed answers. How deep is your grasp on the intricacies of the industry, the job, and yourself?

Are you prepared? Really prepared?

Sometimes, I look at this whole Military-to-Civilian career transition process and I feel like many are looking for a "Silver Bullet", the "Magic Pixie Dust", or the "Pearls", or "Nuggets" (words often heard in the civilian world as overused cliches) that will somehow magically propel you into corporate super-stardom. Are people in transition looking for some type of overnight success? Is the perception of "Support Our Troops!" a reality when it comes to getting hired?

I mentioned a word a couple of paragraphs ago. Let's revisit that word again. The word is PREPARATION.

As I write this, a post on the USAA Facebook page about Transition started trending. One person wrote that today is their first day as a brand new Civilian. This new Veteran remarked on the fact that he had to decide what today! Another person said they can't wait until their End of Term of Service (ETS). Another Patriot shared the fact that although highly qualified in military circles, their skills are not transferable as "Certified" in the civilian world.

Then, someone mentioned the importance of being prepared by "planning ahead".

So, here's a list of things to think about that might help you prepare:

  • Since you won't necessarily have to wake up and ask "What will I wear to work today?", ask the clothing stores if they offer a Military Discount.
  • Do some research on exactly what the "dress code" is at each and every company you might work for. Know the code!
  • Explore programs designed to help you get certified in your specific area of expertise. Many agencies offer low cost to no cost certification programs.
  • If you end up having to take a severe pay cut after the military, get to know the company's career counselors. Research the career tracks of successful Employees there. Find a good Mentor.
  • Learn about all the medical benefits available to you as a Veteran. Lots of programs can be found on the Veterans Affairs website.
  • Use your G.I. Bill as soon as you can.
  • Challenge yourself to truly understand how to navigate the civilian culture. Remember, you joined them, not the other way around.
  • When the "Honeymoon Phase" of being a Civilian comes to an end, make sure to have done your homework based on the 5 W's and H. (more on that on next week's GOING CIVILIAN Blog post)
  • Get a current copy of your credit report. Make sure you know exactly what each of the three credit bureaus report about you. Make the corrections so that you can justify things as needed.
  • Compare you military medical benefits to what's available with your civilian Employer. Avoid any overlapping coverage and maximize the best benefits.
  • Understand the hiring process at the company you're applying for. Explore ways to boost your chances of getting hired.
  • Be ready to discover the civilian world's version of camaraderie. This will be difficult, but you can do it!

What have you done to prepare so that The Employer will VOTE FOR YOU?