As I mentioned in my last column, if you're firing off résumés but aren't getting very good response, you may need to go back to the drawing board to make some adjustments. The competition for jobs remains stiff, which means applying to multiple job postings and getting scant or no callbacks is not all that uncommon these days.
Step back and take a look at how you might fine-tune your approach so you can pinpoint the corrections you need to make. Some things to consider:
- Résumé: Probably the most obvious place to start, but the place to start nonetheless. Your résumé should do a great job showcasing your strengths, abilities and what you can do for the company. Is it clearly written? Does it effectively highlight your key qualifications for the position? What about your cover letter? Does it reflect a bit of your personality? Human resources staffs may be deluged with résumés on a near-constant basis. Your cover letter or summary may be all they read before they move on to the next one in the stack. A strong cover letter and summary paragraph should entice anyone to continue reading your résumé — and call you to set up an interview.
- Qualifications: Matching your qualifications to those specified for a particular position can sound easier than it is. You may meet the minimum qualifications, but not the "preferred" qualifications a company would rather see on your résumé. That doesn't mean you shouldn't apply, though. When it comes to any job — federal or private sector — your qualifications will come into question come interview time, so be sure you've thought about how to describe your experience in the field.
- Networking: While you're pursuing the perfect résumé, don't forget to talk to people. Many veterans find their next job by simply talking to the right person. Being involved in your community — by volunteering or through hobbies — puts you in circulation. Being at the right place at the right time, speaking to the right person, could put you on a path to a solid referral.
- Preparation: My column, "These Lessons Learned from the Military can Benefit You as a Civilian," online at www.militarytimes.com/tacticalvet-lessons, can help you start preparing for an interview. Knowledge about the position you're interviewing for is crucial, as is being thoroughly familiar and conversant with all the elements you've put on your résumé. You can bet you will be questioned not only on the position, but what you have written on your résumé.
- You: So, you're headed to an interview. The moment you walk into the room, your appearance and the way you carry yourself will have an impact. Making a good first impression is essential when hunting for a job. The popular images of veterans are that they're confident, disciplined and respectful. That's who the interviewer(s) will likely be expecting, so make sure you give it to them.
Finally, don't get discouraged. That's easy to say, but many factors could affect your paucity of follow-up calls from prospective employers. Keep an open mind, review your approach now and then and adjust as necessary. Stepping back and making some simple modifications could make a big difference.
Steven Maieli is the founder of TransitioningVeteran.com, which highlights links to federal, state, for-profit and nonprofit veterans benefits and other resources. He also writes a blog on transitioning veterans' issues at www.transitioningveteran.com/wordpress. Send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.