Transitioning out of the military doesn't have to be hard. Transition assistance programs and an abundance of transition field guides, checklists, videos and veteran mentor organizations can lend a helping hand.
But what about when you land an actual civilian interview? Can anything make that easier?
When it comes to actionable interview advice, it pays to do your homework and learn from the experts. Here are three things top human resources professionals say you should never do.
1. Use Military Acronyms
We all know that the military is king of the acronyms. And while it may be the language of choice in the service, it doesn't belong in your resume or anywhere in your dialogue with an interviewer.
The best way to drill this out of your language is to practice answering common interview questions at home in front of a mirror or with a family member or friend. Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has never heard a single military acronym.
When describing your military occupation, try to find a civilian equivalent to use as an example for context during the interview. If one doesn't exist, focus on the soft skills you learned, such as leadership and mission and goal accomplishments.
Study this list of the most common interview questions, write down your answers, and then video yourself so that later you can play it back to evaluate your body language, voice tone and the substantive quality of your answers.
2. Come Off Sounding Too Formal/Militaristic
First things first, lose the "Yes, Sir" and "Yes, Ma'am." I know you've had it drilled into your head, but this is one habit you should lose during an interview (phone, video or in person). You may think that this is a sign of respect but, in the civilian world, just use the person's first name or however they introduced themselves to you.
Also, you don't need to stand (or sit) at attention or parade rest. Keep the good posture, maintain appropriate eye contact, don't cross your arms, and you should do fine.
3. Assume Your Military Rank Means Something
Just because you earned the rank of E-8 or O-6 before you transitioned out of the military, it doesn't mean your rank means something to the interviewer.
Be humble. Approach the interview confident in your accomplishments, yet be able to show that you are a quick and flexible lifelong learner, willing to do whatever it takes to learn the job and go the extra mile.
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