Leaving the forces can be daunting – after all, you’ve been working in a unique environment and the civilian sector seems to have no direct correlation to your current role.
However, your skills and experience will be desirable on the outside if you market yourself well to recruiters. That means developing a CV that immediately shows your value, in terms that a recruiter can understand.
Here are some essential tips to help you write an impressive forces-to-civilian CV.
When you leave the military or the emergency services you may not have a specific career path in mind. That’s fine, but do remember that the CV will need to be tailored to the type of role you’re applying for.
If you’re not quite decided yet, create a master CV containing all of your skills and achievements and then delete irrelevant information every time you make a new application.
If you’re applying for a close protection role, for example, you will need to highlight your defensive driving skills, your experience in risk management and your knowledge of security.
If, however, you’re wanting to work in project management, your experience in risk management will still be valid but you can remove the defensive driving and security in favour of your skill in meeting deadlines and managing a budget.
Although your job title may not equate directly to a corporate position, you will have gained many transferable skills that are highly sought after in both the public and private sectors.
Try to provide concrete examples of when you have used each skill, so that an employer can see immediately how you can contribute to their business. Instead of saying you’re ‘calm under pressure’, say that you ‘made sound decisions in a hostile environment, resulting in successful project delivery with zero loss of assets’.
Don’t forget the additional experience you’ve gained that is not necessarily in your job description – international work, physical fitness and diplomacy are all desirable in the civilian sector.
Acronyms that come as second nature to you can leave civilian recruiters baffled.
Things like 2IC, MISPER, SQN and IED mean little unless you’re in the know, so always either spell out the meaning in full or, even better, find a civilian equivalent term. For example, instead of using ‘2IC’, write ‘Second in Command’ or ‘Deputy Team Leader’.
Recruiters with no knowledge of the structure of the armed forces or emergency services may struggle to equate your rank with a civilian job title.
Converting ‘Lieutenant’, ‘Lance Corporal’, ‘Sergeant’ or ‘Chief Inspector’ to a civilian equivalent which better describes your actual role can help recruiters to understand the level you were working at.
Armed forces and emergency service personnel have frequently completed extensive training.
When deciding which courses to include on a CV, firstly remove any that will be irrelevant outside the forces (bespoke IT applications, specific military equipment and so on). Also remove any that will be of no use in your next position so that the CV is tailored to your target job.
Some training is desirable in any workplace – for example, First Aid or soft skills – just remember that your experience should dominate your CV rather than your training.
If the list is getting out of control, simply stating ‘Full list of courses available on request’ is sufficient, but try to be ruthless in selecting key courses before you resort to this.
Awards will always be viewed positively, just be careful about which awards you include and how much detail you add. The awards you get just for turning up (Queen’s Jubilee Medal, anyone?) need not be included.
Others can add a valuable insight into your achievements and work ethic, but try not to devote more than one line to each medal. The title of the medal, date and reason for award (‘For good conduct’, ‘For professionalism and tenacity’, etc.) is sufficient.
When you’re happy that you’ve transformed your forces CV into a civilian CV, give it to an actual civilian – preferably one working in the sector you’re trying to access – to check for you.
They will be able to point out anything that’s too forces-focused and maybe even suggest some industry keywords to include. Finally, don’t mention live combat situations directly – that’s too much information.
Searching for new employment is a daunting process, particularly if it’s new to you. Today’s job market is full of competition and as someone who has served in the Armed Forces, you’ll find yourself now also competing with civilian counterparts.
It’s so important to keep in mind and understand what extra qualities you have to offer from your military service and how you can use these to your advantage in the job searching process. Here are some of our top tips of what you need to be doing to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
Make it ‘I’ not ‘We’
As someone who has served in the forces, you’re very adaptable and know how to work in a team. On Civvy Street working in a team is just as important, however employers need to know about you as an individual and your achievements. It can be difficult to move from a ‘we’ to ‘I’ mindset, but you need to sell what you’ve done as an individual to employers. Yes, we’re sure you worked very effectively as a team, but think about what you personally brought to the challenge or task set to you. The more you think like this, the more natural it will become.
Write an unforgettable CV
You’re CV is your first impression on Civvy Street so make sure it isn’t pushed in to the wrong pile. CV’s are notoriously difficult to get right, and as employers are looking for different things, you need to make sure you adapt your CV to each of them to make sure it tells them everything they want to know and hear. In terms of format and layout, you’ll hear lots of different advice, but make the CV writing process less complicated by seeking support from one of our Hire a Hero Career Coaches.
Tailor your application – know the business, know the role
Just like your CV, any job application you send needs to be tailored. Having a generic overview is great, but there’s nothing worse for an employer than reading an application that clearly doesn’t address or meet the job description or person specification. These are a great place to start to make sure you know what the business wants from their new employee. You should also get to grips with the business and demonstrate an understanding of them. These are sure fire ways to make you stand out and have the best chance at success. Though time consuming, it’s a must.
Engage and network online
We’re living in a digital age and more and more opportunities are becoming available online, particularly through online networking opportunities. Professional social media outlets such as LinkedIn are very useful in growing your networking, interacting and engaging with people in the industry you are interested in working in and also having you be the first to hear about employment opportunities. Again one of our Hire a Hero Career Coaches can help you to get this right if it’s something you are unsure about.
Be open to options
Those who are open to options stand a better chance of success and are also very appealing to employers. While it’s really important for you to have a goal and an aim, it’s just as important that you don’t get so tied up in this, that you miss out on opportunities that are on the path that lead you to where you want to be. If you’ve been consistently applying for specific vacancies and getting nowhere, thinking about why this might be and potentially exploring another pathway to get there is advisable. Remember, you’re working toward an end goal. It might take you a while to get there but you will get there!
No matter where you are in your transition, get in touch with Hire a Hero for an informal chat. We do whatever we can to support you in whatever way you need and our high trained and career specialist Career Coaches offer fantastic support in a variety of ways to those who have served.
With the closing date nearing for the Farmfoods Management Development Programme, we are pleased to say that many of our candidates are getting ready for the first interview stage, a telephone interview.
Telephone interviews are fairly common, but surprisingly something which many people have not experienced. So how do you prepare?
Here are some of our top tips:
Research, research and research some more
Not only should you know about the position you are applying for but you should also have a good knowledge of the company as a whole. Size, structure, products and competitors are all good areas to research. Much of this information can be found on the company website, including the role description but also venture away from this and explore other articles, news and competitor websites to help you form a rounded insight. Research at this point will also benefit you greatly if successful to further interview stages.
If you have one, try to use a landline phone for your interview. This will ensure that there isn’t any chance of you losing signal. If not using your mobile then turn it off and remove any background noise as best you can e.g don’t have the TV turned on and get someone else entertaining the kids.
Prepare for the interview as if it’s a face to face
Having an interview from the comfort of your own home can throw some people. Being too comfortable isn’t always best and some find they perform better when they prepare as if they were having a face to face interview. Sit in a spot where you can have your CV and any notes to hand, perhaps a dining room table where you can sit up straight and fully engage in the conversation. Smile, listen, speak clearly and be personable and knowledgeable.
What do you have to offer?
Having your CV in front of you during the telephone interview allows you to check back on anything and refresh you memory on anything you might want to or might have the opportunity to mention. Make sure you’re clear on how you fit the role description before you start your telephone interview and ensure you get this across to the interviewer.
What do you want to know?
While you’re the one being interviewed this is an ideal opportunity to get any of your questions answered. These may be about the company, the role and perhaps opportunities for progression. Try to ensure that you don’t ask any questions which may already have been answered on the company website or in your role description, as this will only demonstrate that you may not have researched very well. Use the chance to ask questions wisely.
A telephone interview may seen daunting, but with the right preparation and mindset, they don’t have to be nerve wracking. We hope our top tips have helped but if you wish to receive any further support on telephone interviews or interviews more generally then find out more about working with one of our Career Coaches for individualised support.
At Hire a Hero we frequently receive CV without covering letters. We know that many people are unsure of why they are needed and their purpose, but we always emphasis their importance as an addition and introduction to your CV.
You may feel you’ve spent so much time on your CV, that a covering letter is going to take you just as long but this doesn’t have to be the case. Given that you have completed your covering letter, you should already have a good understanding of your transferable skills and what you have to offer making this the easy part.
We hope these step-by-step tips we will help you begin to pull the letter together:
Things to think about
Firstly, get in the right frame of mind about the aim. Think of your covering letter as a 30 second introduction to the employer. During this time you have to get across that you are the right candidate for the job and have the recruiter wanting to know more, which is why your CV is an effective follow on.
It is also advisable to have done some research in to the company and have an understanding of the type of individuals they are looking for. There could be some key words you come across that you can include in your covering letter and really have it stand out.
Find out more about how you can begin working with a career coach as you search for employment.
The Hire a Hero team are doing an increasing amount of research into and work with ex-military in the custodial system.
Given our links and growing relationship with Parc Prison in Bridgend and Cardiff Prison, we now attend monthly drop-in sessions to support ex-military personnel currently serving time.
An issue we have come across a number of times for not only those currently in prison and preparing to leave but also those with spent criminal convictions, is when and how to declare your convictions to an employer.
From the insights and experience we have gained so far there are some simple and effective ways to do this and all you need is the knowledge as well as the support of a member of the Hire a Hero mentor.
Our Military Liaison Officer, Jinty Morgan who has been working with ex-military in Cardiff Prison and has done a great amount of research into this area shares her insight:
“The big question: When and how should I disclose my criminal conviction?
“This will depend on a number of factors the main one being the application process, however being open and declaring your criminal convictions in the right way and understanding the disclosure process will increase your chances of a successful outcome when applying for employment.
“This is something that we, at Hire a Hero can support with by sharing with you, all the details you need to know and support you with constructing your CV, covering letter, application and prepping you for your interview.”
If you would like support with your search for employment as an ex-offender including CV and cover letter examples then get in touch with the team who will link you our to one of our trained mentors: email@example.com, 01495 761084.
In today’s job market you can bet that for most vacancies you will be up against some tough competition which is why it is so important that your application stands out from other candidates.
Here are some of our top tips to help those who have served get their application to the top of the pile.
Have an eye-catching cover letter
All jobs you apply for with your CV should be accompanied by a personalised covering letter. A cover letter is your first interaction with the potential employer and gives you the opportunity to explain why you are applying for the job and why you are the right candidate for the job. It is the first positive impression you can make. Visit our blog: How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter for advice.
Use key words
The words you use in your CV or on you application should highlight your suitable skills for the role. These are also known as ‘buzz’ words and most of these can be found in your job description. Review the information you have on the role and select some key words of what they are looking for. Key or buzz words can also be ‘positive’ words which emphasis what a great candidate you are.
Know your transferable skills and demonstrate them
Your military skills do mean something in civilian life, it’s just knowing how to translate this. Depending on your roles and military experience this is easier from some than others. If this is an area you are looking for some support with to make sure you get it right then our Career Coaches are the people you need to speak to. Find out more: Hire a Hero Career Coaches.
Is it relevant?
Look at the essential and desirable criteria and of course demonstrate your experience of these. There may be other skills which are transferable and suit the role but if there is anything taking up space which is completely irrelevant, don’t include it. Often with CV applications you may be struggling to keep your CV to two pages and removing irrelevant information is a way to clear up some space. This is also why your CV must be adapted to each individual role.
Show your personality
Don’t be generic. Try to add some personality to your CV and show your passion for the role you are applying. Constructing your CV from a template is a great way to get everything down on paper but don’t be afraid to move things around and add some of your own flair.
So many applications go un-followed up and making contact with the company is a great way to begin to build a rapport and get your name recognisable. This position you applied for may not have been the one but who knows what might come up in the near future. Feedback is also hugely valuable and constructive so pick up the phone and follow up on that application!
For someone with military service a two page CV can seem just impossible. With years of experience to share, various roles, titles and skill sets how do you know what to include and what to omit?
Firstly it is important to understand why your CV should be limited to two pages. Some recruiters can face the task of sifting through hundreds of CV for one vacancy. Their time is limited so your CV needs to get to the point and not be too lengthy. The sharper your CV is in demonstrating what they are seeking the better.
What are you applying for?
Adapting your CV to the role is such an important part of applying for any role. This is also a great opportunity to get you CV to two pages. Depending on what you are applying for prioritise skills and experience that the employer are seeking. This should help you in perhaps shortening some sections of your CV or even removing some unnecessary information.
Reduce information on older roles
Unless some of your older roles specifically demonstrate suitability for the role you are applying you can scale these down to be brief summaries while placing more focus on your recent roles. Older roles can be used to demonstrate your career path, progression and background but if you have a lot of these you can even shorten them down to just role titles and dates.
Is it relevant?
If you have spent a large amount of time on your CV take a step back and come back to it later with fresh eyes. When you return think; Is all the information I have included relevant? Have I been repetitive with anything? If you have then these are some sections you can remove.
When going through resettlement you may begin to construct your CV from a standard format. This is a great beginning point as it helps you to begin to get things down on paper but don’t forget that your CV is a marketing tool so don’t be afraid to individualise it. This is specifically the case with your personal statement.
When reading your CV recruiters should know exactly why you are applying for the role and know you meet the criteria which will take you through to interview. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself and really emphasis what you have to offer.
If you might benefit from some CV support then our Career Coaches could help. Get in touch to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org, 01495 761084.
‘What do they mean by tailoring my CV? I spent so long putting one together it explains all my skills and qualities.’
Before applying for any job your CV should always be tailored to each individual role. We know it is time consuming and can feel like a bit of a chore to continually adapt and move around your CV but it should be a key part of your application process.
So what is tailoring your CV? And how do you get started?
Tailoring your CV means using the job description and specification to highlight the specific skills and qualities the employer is looking for. Employers often spend just a few seconds scanning your CV and if what they are looking for doesn’t jump out, you are likely to fall into the no pile. Use some of our top tips to get you started:
Key word selection
Go through the job description and do a key word selection, the words which refer to what the employer is looking for. Look to integrating these words into your CV and covering letter but without just copying the description. This is a great way to begin tailoring your CV and have it stand out.
Don’t forget your covering letter and get to the point
A covering letter is a really important addition alongside your CV and this should also be tailored but don’t spend your time giving too much insight to your experience without explaining how it relates to the position you are applying for. Again using the job description and highlighting a couple of point from this to use will help you tailor your covering letter to this role specifically.
Think about the bigger picture
While most of the information you require will be within the job description it is useful to try to also read between the lines of what the role might be day to day. What other skills and qualities would be appealing to the employer? And show how you possess these. This is when company research can be really useful. Knowing the culture and generally the types of individuals they seek.
Get a second opinion
One of the trickiest parts of writing a CV can be translating your military experience in a way in which civilians will understand. Those who have served should understand that it can be of-putting to read a CV that they just don’t understand and can’t get to grips with. A good way to resolve or identify that you are doing this is to get a second opinion on your CV. This could be with a civilian friend or family member or even a Hire a Hero Career Coach who can not only identify but support you in making your CV suitable to the civilian job market.
Today we feature a Hire a Hero guest blog from Ben at SolidEssay.com sharing top tips on writing your CV.
In today’s extremely competitive job market, there are many applicants for the same jobs. Many hiring managers make a decision about an applicant in a matter of seconds, just by scanning your resume. In order to make it past the first step, the review of the resume, and make it to the second step of an initial interview, applicants need to understand what it takes to grasp the attention of prospective employers, or more specifically, what those employers want to see on your resume. According to resume writing experts SolidEssay.com, failure to put into writing what the employers are looking for could mean that the most eligible candidate for the position does not even make it to the interview portion. Below we will provide insight as to what employers want to see on an applicant’s resume.
While this may seem to be an obvious thing for an applicant to add to a resume, it is absolutely necessary that the applicant ensures their contact information is recent and up to date, any email address added to the resume should be one that is checked on a regular basis, and now many employers are looking for links to the applicant’s social media sites, such as LinkedIn, which allows the employer to research the applicant further if they choose to do so.
Research has shown that many hiring managers make decisions about potential employees in just a matter of seconds based on the appearance, quality, and content of their resume. It is for this reason that many experts suggest beginning your resume with a summary section. The summary section should be an attention getter for the hiring managers. This summary should be tailored and focused to reflect how you, as the candidate, have skills that fit the particular employer’s needs.
This summary section can be scripted in a few ways. If you are a recent college graduate with relatively little work experience, it is recommended that a more substantial summary section be the strong opening of your resume. Include your list of particular skills and attributes that match the skillset that the employer is looking for. If you have been in the same career for 15 or 20 years, a bullet statement summary touching on the highlights of your talent and accomplishments will be sufficient in the summary section.
Prospective employers want to know the potential employee’s work experience. This work experience should be in reverse chronological order. Major accomplishments and skillsets that match what the job description should be focused on when providing a work summary. If you have been with the same employer for a substantial period of time, it is not necessary to list all employers that you have worked for, unless those employers have skillsets that match the prospective employee’s hiring criteria. Use actual measurable criteria when describing accomplishments rather than word fluff.
Education should be listed with the highest earned degree listed first, and each subsequent degree listed in reverse chronological order, based on the highest earned degree. High school graduation should not be included on the resume unless that is the highest education level accomplished. Educational affiliations should be included on the resume.
For those graduates who graduated with a non-technical degree, they should include their GPA on their resume if it is over 3.5, but they should include what scale it is on; for example, a 3.7 GPA on a 4.0 scale. For those graduates with a technical degree, they should include their resume if it is over 3.2. Again, these students should include what scale it is on, a 3.2 on a 4.0 scale.
Volunteer Work and Other Relevant Activity
Many applicants are coming straight out of college, or have not been a part of the workforce due to issues such as rearing children, an illness, or other reasons for being out of the workforce for an extended period of time, this time is not considered lost time in terms of gained talents and skills. For many people, the skills that they learn volunteering could be exactly what a prospective employer is looking for. For that reason, it is necessary that those candidates with little work experience or those who have been out of the workforce for a significant period of time list the skills and life lessons that they experienced and translate those skills and life lessons into tangible skills that prospective employers could use.
What Not to do on a Resume
Do not add fluff words, or common, cliché phrases unless you have the statement in the resume to support the statement. For example, do not add the phrase “strong leadership skills”, unless later in your resume you can prove those strong leadership skills through duty responsibilities such as “served as the lead of a team of 20 to complete a project ahead of schedule and under budget”.
Do not embellish your accomplishments or take credit for the work of an entire team. Remember that the resume is just a way to get your foot in the door. The prospective employer is going to follow-up beyond just the resume. Embellishing your skills and talents will come back to haunt you later in the hiring process, as the prospective employers will ultimately validate the items that you have listed on your resume.
Today’s job market is not what it was in the past. Today’s applicants have to be cutting edge, forward thinking, and multi-tasking, outside the box thinkers in order to achieve success. These applicants have to have the ability to sell themselves and ensure they stand out in order to rise above the other potential candidates applying for the same position. They have to market their abilities to ensure that the hiring manager gives the resume more than just a simple glance. Once they make it to the interview portion of the available application, the rest is up to them.
Author bio: At SolidEssay.com Ben teaches students how to write resumes and different types of essays. One of his recent articles is on how to write an essay in Chicago style.
Often those who have served can have difficulty in communicating with civilians. In military life there is military speak and you can become so accustomed to using this language around your work colleagues that certain words or phrases may raise a confused eyebrow in civilian life.
As well as this difference in personal communication, those who are making the transition into civilian life need to begin to think more ‘I’ than ‘we’.
Ex-military personnel have a huge amount of skills to offer civilian employers and as well as their transferable skills sets they also possess very valuable traits. Integrity, commitment, loyalty and working under pressure are all skills which can be used on a daily basis in a military environment but the military thinking can be very different from that in civilian life.
Civilian life is very much an ‘I’ environment and all about knowing how to sell yourself to employers whereas the military mind set is all about ‘we’.
As you search for employment in civilian life you will no doubt be sending out numerous CV’s promoting yourself to businesses and sharing why they should hire you. Once sending your CV and making it through the CV sift the next step is preparing for interview. This is when it is really important to think ‘I’ and not ‘we’.
During the interview, the recruiter wants to hear what you have achieved. What are your successes, accomplishments and how did you benefit your previous employer as an individual?
So, how do you get from ‘we’ to ‘I’?
Initially your CV can help to break this down for you. As you write your CV you will be writing and thinking on an individual basis. Once on paper your skill sets and achievements to date may surprise you. Spending proper time on your CV can not only help you to identify where you sit in civilian life but also build your confidence in what you have to offer.
During interview you want to be able to turn you CV into a narrative which you can confidently, clearly and concisely discuss. As well as this providing examples of specific situations will help you to put your point across and demonstrate examples of times when you actively put your skills to use.
To the best of your ability, try to turn these ‘I’ situations into examples which the employer can relate to and see within their business. How did you motivate the team during deployment to get the job done? Remember to speak in first person about what you did rather than as a team and be confident in doing so.
Thinking ‘I’ and not ‘we’ will really help in preparing to sell yourself to employers in civilian life.
Remember that you are the only one who can make your transition a success and the more you prepare and properly position yourself as you enter civilian life the better. Unfortunately and specifically as you search for employment ‘we’ can be close to non-existent in civilian life but use this time as an opportunity to really grow and get to where you want to be in civilian life. Once you gain employment and civilian life elements of ‘we’ will return alongside your new colleagues.
We understand that moving to ‘I’ can be difficult which is why we can support you in doing so. A HIRE A HERO CAREER COACH can help you make this shift in thinking and support you in promoting yourself, making you six times more likely to gain employment.