February 17, 2017 BestCompaniesAZ

Leveraging Military “Soft Skills” To Land Your Next Career

What happens when your military experience doesn’t translate into a civilian job, or you have gaps on your resume due to a combat-related injury? BestCompaniesAZ talked to Anthony Myers, who transitioned from active duty in the Army and experienced a few bumps in his job search before landing in a great job at Endurance International Group.

BCAZ: What were the specific challenges you faced in looking for a civilian job?

Anthony Myers Endurance InternationalAM: Our job skills in the army rarely ever relate to actual experience in the civilian work world. For example, I was an Aviation Mechanic cross-trained into HR after an injury pulled me off the flight line. Neither aviation companies or companies seeking an HR consultant would accept my experience because it didn’t meet the necessary requirements. The aviation companies needed me to work on more than just a single type of aircraft (in my line of work, it was specifically two models, the UH60 Black Hawk and the CH47 Chinook, both military helicopters with very little civilian uses). For HR positions, the fact I didn’t have a degree or didn’t know many common HR interfaces kept me from getting a job. Essentially my five years of work experience in the Army was of little use. I had to start over, finding entry level jobs in fields I had never worked in before.

BCAZ: How did you find Endurance International Group? What was the hiring process like for you?

AM: I found Endurance through a group of people who worked here. They said it was an amazing company to work for (they certainly weren’t wrong). The hiring process was great, and my “ability to adapt” that I highlighted on my resume was actually brought up in the interview.

BCAZ: What has it been like for you working at Endurance International Group?

AM: It has been extremely fulfilling. I absolutely love this company, and most of all, the people I work with. They’re completely understanding of everything, and my skills can be put to use.

BCAZ: How have your military skills and experience transferred to a civilian career?

AM: Honestly, my military occupational skills (HR and Aviation Mechanic) haven’t at all. But the discipline, time management, and adaptability skills have really taken me far. I doubt I’d be where I am today without those skills.

BCAZ: What advice would you give to those who are about to separate from the military?

AM: It is so much harder than you’d think. Even in states that avidly support the military, be prepared for a long journey unless you’re in a much-needed field (like medical). Be prepared to completely start over if you have to. Some will get lucky and land their dream job right off the bat, especially if they have connections, but many won’t.

BCAZ: What advice would you give employers about hiring veterans?

AM: Remember that most veterans’ real strength isn’t their occupational specialty, it’s their ability to get things done, to manage their time and to be disciplined in almost every facet of their work life. Their adaptability to changing environments and ability to work as a team is absolutely a veteran employee’s strength.

BCAZ finds that Anthony’s experience can be typical for veterans – that they experience having to “start over” in an entry level position after they transition out. That can be super-hard when someone is used to having a position of responsibility. Anthony’s willingness to adapt and go back a few steps was to his benefit. We have heard from many veterans and veteran-friendly employers like Endurance that even though veterans may start at a lower level at first, they often advance at a much faster rate than the average, because their teamwork, leadership, and time management skills help them stand out. Those are skills that most less experienced entry level employees have yet to learn.

Advice BCAZ has for veterans: sometimes you may have to swallow your pride and start at a lower level than you know you can perform. If you use your military-gained abilities, you’re likely to advance fast.

Advice BCAZ has for employers: understand that veterans may not have the exact specific industry experience you’re looking for. They may also have resume gaps due to combat-related injuries. While other companies may overlook veterans, you might find a hidden gem who can learn what you need them to know quickly.

Would you like to network with best companies who appreciate your military background? Come to BestCompaniesAZ’s 3rd Annual Military Career Event on February 22nd and meet hiring representatives from Endurance International Group, USAA, Charles Schwab, Intel, Dignity Health and more! You will get great job search ideas and a foot in the door at the companies everyone wants to work for. Register here!