Job tips for recent college grads, military vets

KUSA - A new crop of fresh college grads is entering what remains a challenging job market. So too are military vets looking to transition. Job coach Lida Citroen has these ideas for both groups.

Six Tips For Jobhunting College Grads

Many new college grads are hitting the job market in search of their dream job or at least an entry level job that will pay the bills. In addition to competing against fellow grads for open jobs, you'll be competing against older, more seasoned employees with more experience. New grads have great advantages in the workplace and should leverage them to secure opportunities.

1. Find your balance of power. Overconfidence can reveal as arrogance, pushiness, or worse - indifference. Lack of confidence can show up as nervousness, fidgeting or poor eye contact.

2. Be clear on your experience. Get a handle on what you have to offer (from classwork to internships and extra curricular projects) that makes you stand out. Have key points and bullet points to highlight the relevance and value of those activities, so you avoid rambling out of nervousness.

3. Know the job. Be clear about the position you are applying for. While the interviewer wants you to ask questions in the interview, asking, "So, what would this job entail?" shows a lack of research and attention to the basics. Understand what the job requires (do online research, ask people who have that job in other companies or ask others who have had that job before), and be able to clearly relate your experience, even if it is limited, to the duties of the job.

4. Practice good body language. Like your mother always taught you, look people in the eye when you are speaking with them. Nod your head in agreement, and use hand gestures to indicate support to your points. Similarly, be sure to sit up in your chair but not rigidly. There's a balance between being too casual (think slumping) and being too stoic (think military). Practice good sitting posture in front of a mirror or with a friend. A great body language tip is to always point your belly button to the person you are giving attention to. This ensures you are facing that person as well.

5. Leave technology off. Forget silence and vibrate mode, it's too easy to be distracted by a sudden vibration in your pocket when you're nervous. Keep your technology turned off but close to you in case you need to call for directions or check your calendar (for that follow up interview!).

6. Most senior executives will tell you that the thing they look for in young applicants is passion and authenticity. No one wants to hire an assembly line of look alike workers. Be your wonderful self at all times, but make sure you're appropriate to the formality of the interview. If you like to smile, then do so. If you have a passion for the creative, let that shine. If you like bright colors, find a way to work that into your wardrobe. If the company doesn't want to hire someone who smiles, is creative or likes bright colors, then they might not hire you. But ... would you really want that job?

There is a youthful enthusiasm and spirit in recent grads that you don't see in someone who has been in the work world for a long time. Use your energy, passion and hope for the future (and your future!) to bring joy to the job. Show that you are someone others want to teach, grow and invest in!

Vets Transitioning To Civilian Careers

Personal branding and reputation management professionals often focus on those individuals who "grew up" in the corporate sector. We often put together programs, posts, articles and training tools to help individuals climb the proverbial corporate ladder, navigating the complexities of self-promotion and career success assuming we all entered the workforce the same way.

A few years ago, I felt compelled to learn how I could leverage my expertise and talents to help returning military veterans with their transition: From service to civilian career. I naively went into this volunteer effort figuring I would simply adjust my jargon a bit, highlight some nuances of the corporate environment, and add some military-to-civilian worksheets to the end of my traditional program.

I quickly learned, back in 2009, that returning veterans - whether they saw active combat, returned disabled, or retired from the military - had a completely unique set of needs and concerns as they pursue a career on the civilian side, as an employee, leader, entrepreneur or other.

The military has a very defined and unique culture, language, structure and educational process. In working with several teams of returning veterans, I have learned how important it is to empower them with the tools, skills, resources and ideas that will help them leverage their success (in service) and ensure they can be relevant and compelling to a new target audience, the civilian employment sector.

My recent webinar for veterans raised several questions, which we answered on the call. Two of those are worth repeating here. I will be hosting another free webinar (veterans only, please) on August 23 which will focus on the importance of defining your personal brand and then dive into using social networking as a strategy to transition.

Q: How do I make sense of my military experience, knowing that a civilian hiring manager won't understand?

A: First, it is great that you understand it is YOUR job to do the translating. Hiring managers are too busy with hundreds of resumes to do the work for you. Second, look at the experience, skills, values and talents you have and go above the tactical to the strategic. Instead of saying, "Led 100 combat troops..." emphasize that you have management experience, having been responsible for a team of 100, who reported to you. Be clear and show the relevancy to the job you are applying for.

Another example: Instead of: "Disrupted insurgent operations..." you might say, "Responsible for strategic initiatives that required ability to think quickly, implement strategy and change direction if needed..."

Q: How do I figure out what I'm passionate about?

A: This is the core of personal branding! You must find your passion in order to move confidently and authentically towards a rewarding career. I suggest you think about the times you have felt successful, accomplished and personally empowered. What were you doing? Who were you with? What did you do differently than others around you?

Another way to think about this: If you could do one thing all day, what would it be? Would you work with animals? Paint? Help people with something? Be outside? Write all of these down and see if a pattern starts forming. If you love to be outdoors and with animals, the worst job for you might be a computer job in a large concrete building.

As a veteran, you have served the ultimate sacrifice, for which those of us on the civilian side are grateful. Freedom is not free. As you move through this transition, you will encounter people of varying levels of awareness about what you have been through. Be patient with them, but manage how much detail (and graphic information) you share. Keep in mind, that hiring manager's only exposure to war time might have been from the nightly news and a few Steven Seagal movies!


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