You spend years of your life in the dedication and protection of your country and the people you love, only to return home after all that hard work to a job market that doesn’t know how to value your dedication and evaluate the learning you’ve already done.
A corporate IT career path is about as different from the military promotion system as civilian life here in the US is from the time you spent as a soldier overseas.
You send in countless resumes only to get back one rejection email after another… without so much as a chance to meet someone for a face-to-face interview to show them how capable you really are.
It’s totally unfair, we know.
And it’s frustrating. Beyond frustrating.
But the silver lining is, there’s always, always a way to swing your military experience in your favor without making life-long desk jockeys uncomfortable around you or sounding like that old man down the street who sits on his porch with a shotgun and a can of warm beer talking about his own good old days in the Army.
Because the truth of it is, your status as a veteran and your experience in the military are an advantage in the IT job market… you’ve just got to do some reverse-engineered thinking to figure out how to put a spin on things so your resume, cover letter, and interview make you a no-brainer to hire.
Here’s what we mean:
1. Incredible Attention to Detail is Needed for an IT Career
In the military, those tiny details you had to pay close attention to and worry over could literally make the difference between life and death.
Information Technology, though usually not life-threatening in any way, is what it is because of the small details and the attention to how to optimize even the smallest things for the greater good.
It’d be rare to find a non-veteran with the respect and attention towards even the smallest details that you’ve had to learn in your time in the armed forces.
2. Post 9/11 GI Bill® = IT Training for Veterans
The desk jockeys of corporate America may not realize the gravity of the work you’ve done in the military (try not to hold it against them). But they almost always respect the desire for quality education.
As a veteran, one of the best advantages you have access to is the Post 9/11 GI Bill®. You can fund some quality IT career training and IT certifications for yourself once you get out of the military to get a head start in your civilian IT career.
If you’ve already used it, flaunt that shamelessly. Show off that you dove head-first into an IT education so you’d be able to do the best job possible once you landed a new IT career.
If you haven’t used it yet and you know what IT field you want to go into, you can add to your resume when you’ll be starting your new educational program, or even just mention what you’ll be using your GI Bill® for.
If the reason you’re reading this article is that you are currently considering all of your different options, be sure to read “5 Reasons Why Veterans Make Perfect Network Security Administrators.”
Pro tip: If the company you want to work for doesn’t have any openings, ask for a 30-minute informational interview, presenting yourself as a veteran interested in their line of work. During the interview, you can ask for suggestions on which IT certifications for veterans to pursue and what programs they recommend. Keep in touch with your interviewer thanking them for their time and again when you’ve enrolled in an IT training program. It’ll keep you top-of-mind for when a new position opens.
3. Leadership Is Your Way of Life
Confidence, being able to take charge to solve technology problems, and a having a knack for creating workable solutions are some of the best assets you can have in the IT world!
In the military, leadership gets ingrained into you at a much younger age than most young people who go directly into a corporate IT career path.
For example, most people join the military rather young (some at only 18), so by the time you’re 22 (the age most people graduate from college), you’ve already got a couple of years of experience leading and managing a team of people.
Most corporate hiring managers don’t realize this, though, so make sure you carefully point it out on your resume.
4. No-Nonsense Management Systems
Along with early leadership, the army and the other branches of the armed forces do not mess around with wasting time, money, or resources when it comes to getting things done.
There might be a bit of puffery in the corporate world that you’re not used to, but at the end of the day, the main decision-makers of any company are looking to run their businesses with that kind of no-nonsense, goal-achieving work system you learned in the military.
So while your fellow entry-level tech colleagues may not ‘get it,’ your bosses and managers definitely will.
5. Perseverance & Calm Thinking During Chaos
To say things get chaotic in an office environment after the things you’ve experienced in the army may seem like a bit of a joke to you.
But when there’s loads of money on the line for one particular business deal, tensions can run pretty high between co-workers if it looks like things might not be going your way and the deal might be lost.
Or, particularly in cyber security, if you’ve got a hacker that’s advancing quickly and you can’t seem to figure out what to do to stop him, panic can quickly take over for the average IT professional. But not you…your training gives you the ability to think clearly and react better, which makes cyber security training for veterans a good fit!
You’ve been taught how to persevere when things get tough (heck, most of your corporate colleagues probably couldn’t make it through boot camp), and you know how to calm your mind to think progressively and analytically during chaotic situations to come to the smartest course of action possible.
Revamp Your Resume & Start Advancing to Your IT Career
Another thing that’s different from the military in the corporate world is speaking in “I” instead of “we.”
The military is all about group honor and value, which is great. But when you’re getting hired in the corporate world, it matters less what your group as a whole accomplished and more what you did individually to contribute to your group’s success.
So while you might have the right information on your résumé, you’d be surprised what a difference in wording could do for you!
And while we’ve only listed five here, the University of Colorado made a list of 21 advantages you can easily list out on your resume and cover letter as a veteran, depending on the job in IT that you’re going after.
Did You Know?
GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).