In his preface to the new 'Continue to Work' Report, Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust makes a key point that to ensure that service leavers have the best chance of entering sustainable and fulfilling employment, the means of preparing them after perhaps decades of service needs to be individually tailored. I could not agree more strongly.
But what do you need to do to achieve a more individually tailored job search? Here are my top recommendations.
Forget generic CVs
By definition, individual is the opposite, of generic. If you took advantage of the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) service, you probably took part in one of the career transition workshops and worked on the production of a generic CV.
The reality today is that a ‘spray and pray’ approach, banging out a standard CV to multiple employers simply doesn’t work. Employers are looking for CVs that match their job descriptions and increasingly they are using technology to do an initial comparison. If your skills and experience don’t match, you risk being sifted out before a human has even looked at it.
This requires a targeted approach. Focus on the jobs you have the skills and experience to do and take the time to match them to the employers’ requirements. A generic CV is the quick way to the delete button on a recruiter’s keyboard.
*Having said this, the importance of the CV, in relation to other steps in an employers’ recruitment process is, I believe, over-emphasised. It is but the first hurdle.. Other big ones lie ahead, such as online assessments, structured video or face-to-face interviews and, crucially, the presentation of evidence of skills. It is essential to put the effort into learning about and practicing the techniques to succeed at these other stages in the recruitment process.
Translating your military skills into commercial language
We at SaluteMyJob have developed our unique ‘Explore, Translate and Adapt’© process precisely to deliver a more individual, targeted approach to:
Identify your transferable knowledge, skills and experience;
Translate them into the language of commercial employers but without losing the essential context and evidence from your service in the Armed Forces;
Help you adapt attitudes and behaviours that might be entirely appropriate in a military environment but either inappropriate or potentially unsuccessful in a civilian organisation.
Ask yourself ‘What have I got the skills and experience to do?’
Rather than ask you what you want to do on leaving the Armed Forces (the answer to which is often no more than ‘get a job’), we think a better start point is ‘what have you got the skills and experience to do?’ Having identified these, it is much easier to plan a targeted job search to find the right job in the right organisation.
It’s about both soft skills and qualifications
Almost invariably these are the ‘soft’ skills developed under arduous conditions on operations and training that are most sought after by civilian employers, in both the private and public sectors. However, these are often the skills least understood or valued by ex-military jobseekers. Virtually every question I am asked at careers events relates to qualifications. However, employers will see little value in completing, for example, a Prince 2 Practitioner course without the accompanying evidence of applying it to deliver successful projects.
Interview training is only part of the necessary preparation
However much time is spent polishing the CV, these other steps require two or three times the effort - and practice, practice, practice. While some agencies offer interview training, SaluteMyJob is the ONLY organisation that offers jobseekers the additional opportunity to practice online assessments and structured video interviews that are increasing a mandatory part of an employer’s recruitment and selection process. Thanks to the support of IBM, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, the RAF Benevolent Fund and Veterans’ Scotland, these services are provided at no cost to ex-military jobseekers.
To find out more about how SaluteMyJob can help you with your transition into civilian employment visit www.salutemyjob.com or call us on 01239 691390.
Andrew Jackson is managing director of SaluteMyJob, a social enterprise providing veterans’ focussed services to employers and supporting former Service men and women into employment. A retired Army brigadier, he has spent the last 10 years’ specialising in military and commercial HR, latterly as an IBM employee.