I’m a vet who’s been fortunate to make the transition to civilian and to even become a hiring manager. For those coming from the vet world and struggling with no interest in their applications, here are a few insights:

(1) Hiring managers don’t have the infrastructure you think they have. There is no Bureau of Personnel or other mega bureaucracy that is planning hiring and shaping careers over 20-30 years for the corp. Every job post you see online is a sign that some poor, overworked team somewhere has cried ‘uncle’ and decided it has no other choice but to hire.

(2) Hiring cuts into “real work” time. In other words, that team that has an open job post is already understaffed and over-worked, so they don’t exactly have a lot of time to sit around reading resumes. Online job posts can easily attract hundreds of applicants. We don’t have time to review those, which is why we rely on HR to filter candidates for us.

(3) Most HR is a filter, not a pump. They don’t work with the hiring manager’s team, in the same field, or maybe even in the same city. That’s why HR relies on matching key words in your resume to requirements in the job post. So tailor your submission to the requisition – don’t expect HR to translate your experience into their needs. Fact is, if you don’t do this, your application probably won’t pass the word-search-filters to even be seen by a human. Yes, this takes longer, but you HAVE to do it. It is NOT better to submit your generic resume to 100 jobs than to submit a tailored resume to 10.

(4) You are pricing yourself too high. When I served on active all I ever heard about from senior military was how our civilian counterparts made more on the outside and we could expect to be scooped up when we separated. Maybe that was true then, but it’s BS today, particularly for officers. Look at salary.com for your desired job, compare that to your current total compensation and modify your expectations accordingly.

(5) You put too much value on “years of experience.” Okay, even I reference this in my resume because too many recruiters are told to use it as a filter. However, as a hiring manager, I don’t care. I’m looking for hustle, smarts, and team-play. If I can find it in someone with less years on the job, that’s a win for me because:
(a) More years experience usually means more $. Let me put it this way: When HR finally sends me resumes, the first thing I do is to sort the stack by years of experience and start reading with the least because the ones with the most will want more to do the same job.
(b) 20+ can be an orange flag. Too many serviceman finish their 20 and expect to coast. You may not be that guy but you can bet your hiring manager has interviewed (or even accidentally hired) too many of them in the past to not be suspicious of you.

Look, if you really want to get your head around this, don’t read books about how to write your resume for civilians (or at least, don’t read many of them). Read what a hiring manager is reading, books like “Hire with Your Head,” so you understand your audience. I’m not going to give you a chance to talk about you if you don’t first prove that you “get” me. Put another way, spend less time promoting yourself and more time demonstrating that you understand my team’s challenges and only then showing me that you’re the answer to my prayers. Hiring costs too much money and is too disruptive and too permanent for me to take chances – so give me a resume that shows me you actually read the words I took time to write in the job post, that you get my problems, and that you are the answer.

I hope this helps the vets out there who are looking for work. My family is praying that every one of you who wants to work will be find it. Thank you for your service and God bless.

Thanks to Josh Wallick Program Manager at CSC

Go to www.TADPGS.com, click on the “Looking for People” tab, then view “Veterans Solutions” to see more for information on our Veterans Solutions for Employers. Please join our LinkedIn group, Veterans Hiring Solutions for Veterans and Companies at http://linkd.in/Sg346w. If you have specific questions about hiring veterans or the incentives for doing so, contact me at [email protected].