Posted on March 22, 2018
In supporting new service leavers, I am mindful that many have not been in an interview situation for many years, if at all. It can be quite daunting, and while I have provided some thoughts on Interview Techniques, but, when you are asked what you bring to the business, it is not easy to respond in a positive, affirmative way with conviction.
In this blog, I would like to share my thoughts on how we are differentiated from our Civvy contemporaries, and also, start by explaining why I think we do not see it from our own perspective.
We join the Military as volunteers and for various reasons. Basic Training is designed to break us down and build us up in to the individuals the Military needs with focus on physical and mental resilience, teamwork, motivation and mission/task focus. We have all been trained to several degrees in problem solving and issue resolution. EVERYONE has these attributes to a greater or lesser extent, and so, we do not see ourselves as being differentiated from our colleagues with respect to these valuable characteristics. The issue is, when you come to interview, they are not something of which you are clearly aware to bring out at interview and secure the role.
Additionally, through Phase 2 training, we were taught a multiplicity of “Special to Arm” and trade skills. The follow-on postings enable you to consolidate these skills, and further broaden your capabilities. However, because you are again, surrounded by people in the same situation, it is not at all clear to you that the diversity of your skill set and additional characteristics are differentiating you from the civilian competition.
The corollary of this too is that, when it comes to putting together a CV, we are told by CTP to “sell ourselves” and detail our skills. WRONG! When this is done at any level, the CV, however well written, becomes unbelievable to the hiring manager or HR. A diverse skillset within trade is seen as either, you “can’t decide what you want to do”, or you are “a jack of all trades and master of none!” Let me give you an example:
Around 5 years ago, I was passed the CV of a Major who had been the QM of a Regiment. His CV clearly, lucidly and factually stated that he was an “exemplary Project Manager, Facilities Manager and Logistics Manager”… in truth, he is! However, putting that CV in front of a Civvy employer would not get through the first sift. CVs need to be targeted, and contrary to what we are told, played down to make it more believable. I have seen many more subsequently, and have advised people to write CVs specific to the role they are addressing, and further draw from their experience to make it more palatable.
This should get you to interview, if well written, and it is at interview that you can expand on the diversity of skills and the valuable characteristics that you bring to the table. Here you can expound on what YOU bring to the Party.