Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Military Transition Job Seekers: Learn to Take Credit for Yourself

I was talking today with a military member transitioning to the private sector who has more than 10 years of experience in his field. Despite the fact that he has a proven track record of success in his area of specialty, he shied away from labeling himself an expert. This modesty - and unwillingness to give yourself credit - is a common problem for people transitioning out of the military to the civilian world.

In the military you are conditioned to think of yourself as part of a team that works together to achieve a common goal. The ability to work effectively as part of a team is a very valuable trait that many employers find attractive. However, in order to market yourself effectively once you transition into the civilian world, you must learn to give yourself the credit that you rightly deserve. Here are some tips for overcoming this obstacle.

  • Think about the role you played in the team. What value did you bring? What idea or innovation did you think of that may not have happened otherwise?
  • When writing your resume or preparing for an interview, you must define your selling points. Don't think of it as bragging. Stating you are the best (fill in the blank) in the world is bragging and arrogant. However, simply stating what qualities make you effective at what you do is not bragging.
  • Back up your assertions with measurable accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to utilize your skills. When you can back up your statements with stories, examples, and statistics, you transform from bragging to stating the facts of what make you good at what you do.
  • Focus on value and benefits. Think long and hard at what makes you cost-effective as an employee. How will you earn the money that your employer will pay you? Take the focus off of yourself and put it back on the employer by talking about what value and benefits your potential employer will receive when they add you to their team.
  • Don't fool yourself into thinking employers will value modesty. What an employer truly values is an employee that has taken the time to learn about the employer's needs and problems, then takes this information and creates a targeted presentation - both in the resume and interview - of how the employee can resolve the employer's problems and meet their needs.

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