5 Tips on how to land that first job after the Military

As a recent separatist from the Military, I can understand the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty when starting job prospecting, but also the intense exhilaration of getting the first offer to join a new company. The purpose and objective of these tips is to help you transition and find employment as fast as possible, so you can finance your life on the outside and start building “street cred” in the civilian sector.

As a headhunter here in Tokyo, I have interviewed hundreds of candidates looking for new jobs to enhance their career and have seen trends in who gets hired and who gets rejected by some of the world’s top companies looking for that perfect person.

This list of tips stems from my experience in helping people here in Tokyo land that dream job they have always wanted and in quick time.

Treat Job searching as your new job!

Congrats on your new job as a Professional Job Searcher. Doesn’t pay a whole lot now, but if you are successful, it will lead to a hefty paycheck in the end. You should now by this point be eating, sleeping, and living your job search. Start reading up on how others landed their first job after the military, join social media sites such as LinkedIn to increase your job search network. One of the fastest ways to get hired is to get a great recommendation from a friend who is already an employee for the company you are applying for.

Set goals, prioritize, and schedule your day, week, month.

This tip cannot be stressed enough. You must schedule out your daily activities to include phone calls to targeted company HR contacts, resume and cover letter writing, interview appointments, self study time, interview practice, workout sessions and ,yes of course, your leisure time. All work and no play make Homer a something something.

Set goals for yourself and deadlines for when you will reach those goals. Goals like scheduling your first interview to getting your first Offer are good examples. Any goal to get you off your duff and in to action is a good one, and will keep you from procrastinating. Also, setting off to find a job without goal setting is like steering a boat with no rudder. You’re going to get nowhere, fast.

Practice is key, rejection is inevitable.

Just like in every new skill or task to be learned, practice makes perfect, and in the case of the job interview, it is no different. Don’t expect to get an offer or invitation for a second interview on your very first interview. If you do then hooray for you, but more often than not, your first interview will be your absolute worst one. With sweaty palms and dry mouth, it becomes difficult to play it cool, answer with witty responses, and have your interviewer nodding in agreement with every word that flows from your mouth.

So how do I get better? In a word, rehearsal. You can find lists of commonly asked questions in interviews on Google. Such as, what is one of your major weaknesses? or Tell us about a time when you failed. Walking into an interview without thinking of answers to these types of questions beforehand is setting yourself up for a lot verbal pauses, awkward silence, or worse, incoherent babble. The more you rehearse, the more confident and intelligent you will sound, the better your shot of making that great first impression with the person dishing out the questions. Have your significant other or friend ask you practice questions at random to get you used to hearing your own voice and serve as a judge on how well or not so well you answered said questions. Be sure to thank them after you ace your next interview.

First impressions, don’t forget to clean up your social media.

Oh yeah, that pic of you doing a keg stand at your farewell party…right out. Clean up your FB and save yourself from potential pre-interview rejection. Most HR Managers check social media sites such as LinkedIn, FB, etc. and WILL use them as a form of screening potential candidates. Even if you have your site blocked from non friends or non contacts, some companies pay for premium search benefits that allow them to look through entire profiles despite your security settings. Welcome to Corporate.

Try not to worry too much about saying the “right” thing to get the interviewer to “like” you. Just be yourself, act as you would naturally, and you will find that is much easier to build rapport. Trying too hard usually ends up creating opposite results. This is where practicing for the interview helps. As you practice, your overall confidence builds, and this confidence comes forth during the interview. It is much easier for an interviewer to relate to and like someone who appears confident, than with some who looks nervous and weak. Who would you want to hire if you were the one interviewing?

Stay positive and keep your eye on the objective.

Keep your goal in sight and you WILL reach it. It is easy to get discouraged by the rejections and failed interviews you will experience on this path, but remember that each step is a step forward towards that eventual Offer. Keep your thoughts positive and visualize what your life will be like when you do reach your goal. I will write more on how to keep positive and motivated, especially in our society, where it seems everywhere you look there is nothing but negativity.

Please let me know if this post was helpful, and feel free to add your comments, questions, and thoughts in general. My objective with this blog is to help you succeed after you leave the Military.

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