Sultan Camp is no stranger to military transitions. After going through one of his own when he retired from the Navy, he now works as a veteran and military spouse recruiter for Newport News Shipbuilding, helping servicemembers every day as they work toward the next step in their career.
And he has lots of reasons why they aren’t hiring you, which he presented in a 2014 article that’s piled up millions of hits. Camp’s red flags range from the practical (“You Didn’t Prepare for the Interview”) to the philosophical (“You Can’t (or Won’t) Accept That You’re Starting Over”), and insights on the veteran-hiring process from the other side of the interview.
But what does catch his eye? There are as many ways to win hiring managers over as there are to turn them off. He shared five pieces of advice with MOAA:
1. Apply Early
In competitive positions, you could be going up against hundreds of applicants. You could be the perfect candidate, but they may never know if you are far back in the queue.
When you see a job posting come up that you are interested in, time is of the essence. While there may be 200 applicants, it’s likely only the first 50 will be considered, Camp said. And, generally, only the top 5-7 candidates score an interview opportunity. In this case, the early bird gets the interview.
2. Take Advantage of Your Resources
Using resources like MOAA’s Transition Assistance is key to a successful career change, Camp said. Even once you think you’ve collected all the information you can, it is still advantageous to go to new webinars and read new articles.
Some servicemembers and military spouses for that matter have trouble understanding that they are “not the first person to have ever transitioned or had an employment gap,” Camp said. “You can try to be a rowboat in an ocean, or you can try to ride the path of an aircraft carrier. Because there have been millions of people who have transitioned before you, connecting with people or organizations like MOAA, who have experience dealing with hundreds of thousands of people just like you, regardless of your paygrade or challenges you have endured as a military spouse with a career on the move, helps you tap into that corporate knowledge.”
[RELATED: MOAA’s Job Board, in Partnership With Indeed]
3. Show Employers You Are Ready for a New Career
It can be difficult to start out in a new business sector, especially after a long career in the military. It is important to demonstrate you are ready for the next step, Camp said, adding that personal introductions can be more powerful than written ones.
“One of the key ways to [demonstrate readiness for a new career] is through warm introductions because you can never capture that in a cover letter or résumé,” he said. “People say that you can, but the reality is that if I'm reading it, I'm less convinced than if I actually had a conversation with you.”
4. Use the Ever-Growing Digital Landscape
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the world in more ways than one, it has also opened up opportunities to connect outside of our bubbles. It’s now easier than ever to network with people outside of your locale, Camp said, allowing you to get a broader perspective of the job market.
“In a COVID/post-COVID environment, virtual cups of coffee are easier than ever to schedule,” he said. “Because I don't have to go to a Starbucks and come back to work, I can literally roll right into my next task.”
One way to take advantage of the digital landscape is through the Military Spouse Ambassador Network. MOAA, along with 21 other non-governmental organizations that make up the network, are committed to sharing best practices and connecting military spouses to employment resources wherever they live.
[RELATED: MOAA on LinkedIn]
5. Put Your Network to Work
As a veteran and military spouse recruiter, Camp sees how many job seekers miss the mark when it comes to utilizing their connections.
“The No. 1 pitfall that (job seekers) fall into is not doing an audit of their networks ... How many people do they know right now that can either hire them directly, or can put their résumé in front of someone who hires?” Camp said.
If you’re looking to embark on your military transition, or if you are a military spouse looking for a new opportunity, be sure to take advantage of all that MOAA has to offer. From subject-matter experts to workshops, webinars, and job boards, you can find more resources at MOAA’s Transition and Career Center.
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