The ONE Thing That Will Set You Apart

24 11 2015


What happens when you have a really bad customer service experience? You talk about it, right? You might even blog, tweet, or review the company/individual on Yelp or TripAdvisor. That experience sticks with you for a lifetime. But what about when you have a really good experience? Do you share that with the world? Some do (most don’t.)

Where the heck am I going with this and how does it relate to your job or job search?? I’ll tell you.

It all comes down to Customer Service.

Wait a minute! I bet you’re thinking something like, “I’m not in Retail or Sales. I don’t have customers.” WRONG. We all have customers! Think about it: our customers are those we serve and interact with. Outside of what you’d consider an actual “customer,” I’ll argue that customers include family, friends, coworkers and yes, even hiring managers and recruiters!

One of my unofficial mentors, Doug Conant, shared a powerful phrase in his book, TouchPoints. Are you ready for this life-changing phrase? Here goes…

“How can I help?”

That’s it. It’s simple, yet so very effective. I’ll break it down a little further. On the job or in your job search, here are three ways to excel in customer service:

Know the customer. While some people know EXACTLY what is wrong and what they’re looking for, most don’t really know. They want YOU to figure it out. How do you do this? LISTEN. Understand the customer’s challenges and needs so that you can recommend the best solution available to them. Do you know who you’re working with well enough to recommend the ideal solution? It all comes down to listening!

Be a solution seeker. When someone comes to you with an issue (which is most of customer service), how will you respond? Will you say “I don’t know” or will you do whatever you can to help the customer? Take the phrase from “I don’t know” to “I don’t know, but I’ll find an answer for you.” Their problem is your problem. Own it and help find a solution. In your career, are you seeking solutions together or pushing the problems off on someone else?

Make it easy. That’s pretty vague, but here’s what I’m getting at: figure out how you can help make their lives easier. Whether it’s eliminating a step in the process or just being the sunshine in their day when they bring a valid complaint to your desk (i.e.: don’t be the grouch in Customer Service – it doesn’t help anyone), find a way to help the customer. As a job seeker, how can you help make it easier for the recruiter or hiring manager? What challenges can your skills help solve for the company?

While it may not be easy to find the good stuff on the internet, stellar customer service is remembered. It makes a positive impression and that can help earn you a customer for life. And, it could set you apart from the competition, helping you land that job or promotion you’re shooting for!


Finding a Military-Friendly Employer

12 11 2015



Photo credit: Tyler Barnes via Unsplash

Military experience can provide very notable value to prospective employees. Many companies look positively upon the commitment, discipline, adaptability and leadership skills of veterans and military members. Some even offer internal veterans’ programs, often in an initiative to recruit individuals that would promote a positive company culture and a hard-work ethic.

Military-friendly employers are certainly out there, but they aren’t always the easiest to find. When seeking out a military-friendly employer, it’s worth honing in on specific industries and search methods:

Hone in on Military-Friendly Industries

A convenient way of finding many employers who embrace former military personnel is by focusing on industries that traditionally benefit from military-related skills. Some of these industries include:

  • Federal Government – The government is particularly fond of hiring those with military experience, who have already shown a special commitment to representing their country. The federal government shows veterans reverence by offering preference points to military members who were awarded a campaign badge or expeditionary medal, or were injured. Federal employment is often one of the smoothest transitions from military due to some very similar job functions in many federal-level roles, particularly regarding general security and sensitive maintenance.
  • Law Enforcement and Security – Since military service members are very familiar with training methods pertinent to anti-terrorism, force protection and/or security, these skills are often sought out by law enforcement and security businesses, from private security to police departments. Some veteran Web resources provide a great listing of law enforcement and security-related businesses by state, making the search easy and match ideal.
  • Intelligence Training – As intelligence training companies often recruit military, a military member’s experience in conversing regularly with other veterans in addition to being familiar with military-related skills can make them an ideal fit in any intelligence training-related role.

These three industries often provide smooth transitions for military members seeking employment while not serving.

Use Military-Minded Job Sites

There are many websites that provide job listings, but not all of them are tailored toward military members and veterans. There are a handful of trusted and frequently updated sites that do just this, including Robert Half Veteran Jobs, Military Friendly and Forbes’ list of the top 100 military-friendly employers. It’s recommended to browse every one of these on a daily basis if you’re a military member serious about finding a job. Responding promptly to a recently posted job listing is a great way to boost your chances.

Consider Some Large Corporations

Some prominent name brands are well-known for their commitment to employees with military experience, such as Verizon, USAA, Lockheed Martin, Charles Schwab, AT&T, Capital One and JPMorgan Chase. Many of these companies offer medical and life insurance, pay raises, retirement contributions and more benefits for military members. Banking and finances, defense/aerospace and insurance are the top industries for veterans to work for.

Use Google Strategically

While many military members share skillsets, every member has their own unique skillset as well. Job-seekers should ask themselves what makes them unique and include that skill into their Google-based job search.

For a military member, combine your ability with your preferred industry to work in when searching Google. For example, if you’re interested in working in security and can tout experience handling data security for a military branch, use a search query like “security job listing + military data security experience.” Typing that query brings up several useful entries, like relevant Monster listings, a link to U.S. Security Associates’ job page and tips on how to land a cybersecurity job.

Military members have a boatload of skills to offer many employers. Using the tips above can help you wade through probably the most difficult part: finding a military-friendly employer. It just takes a little sleuthing to find the right one.

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum is a graduate from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also the newest addition to the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum

Translating Military Skills into a Career

10 11 2015


Photo credit: Jacob Valerio via Unsplash

When you join the armed forces, your whole life shifts. Instead of school, it’s bases and battlefields. Instead of home life, it’s life with your fellow soldiers. Instead of going with the flow, you have to follow a rigorous schedule.

The military may have prepared you for the worst things that can face this country, but has it prepared you for life after your service? Transitioning back to civilian life can be tough — the military wasn’t just your job, it was your life. What happens when you come back?

You might think that the skills you learned during your service won’t transfer easily to employment. Military jargon can easily crowd your head, which creates confusion, as well as a culture gap. Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure your transition back to civilian employment is a smooth one.

Hmm… What Skills?

Trying to find a job after serving can be truly frustrating. Realizing the skills you gained from the military, however, can help you narrow down your career options and boost your confidence. Here are some common skills that translate easy to the workforce:

  • Leadership: Think about when you had to follow orders. This involved a high degree of honor and responsibility. These are great traits that exemplify leadership. In the military, you probably exhibited excellent planning strategies and intelligence. You could be the next CEO of a major company, like these guys.
  • Flexibility: The military may have rigid regulations, but situations can change at any moment. Regardless of what happens, there must always be a plan of action. Planning ahead and on the spot is a value that is greatly needed in the workforce.
  • Expertise: Were you an airplane mechanic? Did you study weather patterns? Did you work on radar, or operate tanks? No matter what you did in the military, your expertise in that position can easily become a job — especially jobs that require technical prowess.
  • Communication: While this is essential for everyone who enters the workforce, it is extremely important to veterans. Keep in contact with your fellow soldiers. Drop a line to the higher-ups. Attend job fairs and career centers. Sign up for job-hunting websites like LinkedIn. All the contacts you could ever need, both new and old, are a button click away.

De-Jargonize That Resume

Your resume is souped up for the military, but all those military terms might confuse the HR people who will be looking at it. Do a little bit of housekeeping.

Putting “sniper” on a resume won’t necessarily impress your potential employer. It’s best to dissect the little things that made up your duties. No matter what your position was, there has to be some sort of value or expertise you can draw from it.

For instance, if you were a sniper, that involves using a high amount of focus in a high-pressure situation. There’s little room for error, and you must execute your orders with precision.

Sometimes talking to another person about your transition can help. It’s too dangerous to go alone, so why not try the free counseling services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs? There are also transition centers for every branch of the military.

Now Show the World Who’s Boss!

Once you find a career that’s right for you, it’s not the time to slack. The military is based on ranking, but in a civilian career, you must succeed in areas that further the success of the organization.

You won’t encounter shocking differences right away, but subtle changes will become noticeable to you. The way your coworkers communicate, the company’s organizational processes, a looser structure — all of it will take some getting used to. Be patient and positive, and you’ll become adjusted in no time.

When you take the steps to make the transition back into civilian life, you’ll find some bumps along the way. Don’t lose hope — your service is greatly appreciated, and your amazing contributions to society will be as well!

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum is a graduate from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also the newest addition to the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum