I recently participated in QuintCareers.com Job Action Day (this past Monday, Nov. 4.) I’m reposting the article I submitted for publication. I wrote this based on a question my son asked me upon returning from Afghanistan. He was due to leave the service in a few months and was wondering what he would be doing next.
Happy Veterans Day Everyday to Veterans.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO OFFER?
A few short years ago my son, Tory, returned from serving a year in Afghanistan. He served with the 2nd Infantry Division, 5th Stryker Brigade on and around the Afghan/Pakistan border. His unit saw combat. At the time my only communication with him was mostly via his wife, Jenn, who kept me informed of his daily activities and Charlie Gibson on the ABC Nightly News broadcast. There were some OK days for him and some not so OK days. In the end I got him back while not all members of his unit returned home to their families.
After returning to his home base of Fort Lewis, Washington he was coming up on the completion of his 4-year enlistment when we began discussing his future plans. It was then that he asked me a question that still haunts me—not so much as a father but as a job search expert. He asked, “What do I have to offer?” OMG! I could not believe I was hearing this from someone who had just spent 4 years training and had been promoted based on that training, his expertise, knowledge, leadership, judgment skills and more.
Realize that the military is unique in that the Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, Army and Air Force will take someone with virtually no skills whatever and spend thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars bringing this individual to an experience level that very few civilian organizations will ever attempt to duplicate. You know that Army saying “Be all you can be?” Well, it’s not just the Army. You sign up for any branch of the service and you WILL become all you can be within your ability, interest and motivational level. The military of today is not the military of my day when you could potentially enlist just to stay out of trouble.
Interestingly although my son was an enlisted member of the Army I am currently working with a US Naval Academy grad/career officer who will be departing the USN in 2014. We have actually had a review of these very same issues.
So for those of you who may read this and have a same or similar question to Tory’s or my USN officer client let me offer some basic guidance for your job search mindset. We can begin with your mastery of soft skills. They may not have been called ‘soft’ while you were on active duty but these are skills that every employer seeks. As an active-duty member of the military, you were continuously working with a team, taking charge as necessary, and motivating the troops. You were constantly called on to take up the challenge to make things happen with whatever tools or people you had available to you. Now add to that your primary skillset such as your knowledge of information technology, aviation, logistics, etc. and you, dear veterans, are winners. In the case of my ground-pounder son he is soon to graduate with his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and has begun applying to law school. With his prominent military leadership growth and very good grades I believe he will be accepted.
For your review and consideration I have attached a copy of the resume he developed for his law school application. Read ‘between the lines,’ and note how this document oozes of leadership learned while on active duty.
One last note of advice to veterans: Learn to think like an employer. Offer what you think they will want to see in a resume or bio. Remember, when it comes to employment it’s not at all about you. It’s about what you are going to do for them. And as a veteran you already know all about doing for them.
I genuinely wish you great success. You’ve earned it!