In this interview, we ask a recently transitioned veteran about his journey of leaving the military and succeeding with perseverance and advice from mentors on Veterati.
Can you describe the journey that got you to the position you landed?
I sure can! Before I had separated from the military in March of 2016, I began my job hunt in and around the Las Vegas area. My goal from the start was to find a position that could utilize my extensive military experience as a former USAF officer, while also allowing me to grow as a professional. Although I had applied to as many companies as I could in town, my overall end goal was to work at MGM Resorts International as I genuinely admired this company for how many military veterans they hire and the pride they take in that.
To that end, I spent approximately three months applying and re-applying to positions at MGM. I found it very difficult at first to get my foot in the door, as I received multiple rejections along the way. However, no matter how much it hurt to receive those letters of rejection, I always had a policy of simply refusing to quit on myself no matter how hard things got. I kept reminding myself, “I’m a military man. I’m a veteran. I can do anything. I can overcome anything.” I quietly pressed on, knowing my perseverance would pay off somehow, someway, someday. And eventually it did pay off, as I received a call-back from MGM earlier this month asking me to come in for an interview in their HR department (Talent Acquisitions). Shortly after I interviewed with them, I received another call from their hiring manager INVITING ME TO JOIN THEIR STAFF! I couldn’t believe it. I was almost in tears.
Today, I work in a career field that helps support the process of hiring folks into our workforce, which allows me to meet many veterans who are either on their way out of the military, have already separated/retired, or are simply thinking about transitioning. I couldn’t be happier with my position and genuinely hope that some military guy or gal out there who reads this genuinely recognizes how important it will be to “try, try, try again” in order to achieve ANYTHING they want. I only got a call back and was hired after I put in all that effort and showed how determined and driven I was to succeed, which I think is an extremely common characteristic most of our military members already have within themselves. They just have to tap into it and use it here in the civilian world!
Did Veterati and its mentors contribute this journey? How?
Veterati did help me out on my journey towards this position, as it connected me with an experienced, seasoned veteran. Emma Toops was nice enough to call me and do a phone mentoring session awhile back. Her words of advice, as well as subsequent communications thereafter, gave me some solid insight and inspiration into how important it was to never give up on yourself.
What are your tips for transitioning veterans seeking a career?
- First, be positive! If you’re a positive, happy, energetic person, then this will clearly stand out in job interviews, since I’ve met hiring managers who seemed to really enjoy and admire a job applicant who comes in with a good attitude, a smile on their face, and a strong, burning desire to work for their company. For the fun of it, I often cracked jokes and just tried to have a good time whenever I sat down with a hiring manager for an interview, since doing so immediately took all nervousness I had out of my gut, and instead replaced it with a feeling of, “Hey! I’m just going to have a conversation with a guy about who I am, what I’m about, and what I can bring to the table if he decides to bring me on as a potential member of his team.”
- Next, be detail oriented. Believe it or not, attention-to-detail is just as important in job hunting as it was in the military world. Having a nicely made business suit that is lint-free, clean-cut, and sharp-looking will definitely help you stand out compared to other candidates. Trust me when I say that the more work you put into your professional image, then the more you will stand in an interview.
- Be persistent. Chances are pretty good that you will NOT get the first job you want. It will take a lot of time, hard work, and persistence to try, try, try again and continuously apply to as many jobs as possible with as many different companies as possible, knowing full well that you are in a very hot competition with countless other civilians out there who are trying just as hard to get that specific job that you also want yourself. You must never give up on your job hunt and allow yourself to settle for anything less than what you want and deserve.
- Be proactive. It’s simply not enough to apply for a job, show up for an interview, and then hope for the best. You have to go above-and-beyond in order to truly stand out as a worthy candidate in that job interview. Here’s a couple ways you can do that:
- Go on Google News and type in the name of the company you are applying to and then start reading articles about that company’s recent history. This is something that will take you maybe 10-20 minutes and it will give you a healthy foundation of knowledge on that company that you can later share at that job interview. It will show that hiring manager you have done your homework about the company.
- Write a “Thank You” card to the person you interviewed with right after the meeting is done. Why do this? Because it leaves yet another positive mark of your professionalism. I’ve done this several times before, and got called back several times for additional interviews!
5. Don’t forget to be humble. Nobody likes a huge ego – especially from someone who is just “restarting” their life in the civilian world, regardless of how much experience he/she may have had in the military. Finally, be hardworking. Never forget that as a military professional, you likely had an above-standard work ethic. You will definitely get recognized if you continue applying this standard as a civilian.
Remember, you fought hard for America as a military member and put 100% of yourself into serving your respective military branch. Now that you are out of the military, why not put 100% into serving yourself? Good luck and my absolute very the best to all of my uniformed brothers and sisters are who read this and can pull a little inspiration from it.
Jason S. Ram
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