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When you come from the military, you’re used to managers who have a strong leadership style. Unfortunately, in the private sector, managers aren’t held to the same management standards. If you’re a veteran who works best with a military-style management approach, to feel satisfied and successful in your civilian job, you’ll find it important to actively seek out employers who exemplify the following four traits in their management style:

1. Gives thorough instructions.

In the military, you’re given all the necessary information to do your job. In the private sector, some managers expect you to figure it out for yourself. Veterans know that finding a manager who knows how to articulate their needs clearly will be easier to work for. INTERVIEW TIP: Ask the manager how they assign projects and how much instruction is given. If possible, see if they can provide an example.

2. Provides timelines for completion.

While in the military, you could expect to be told when you needed to have your work finished. In the private sector, some managers will expect you to manage your own time. Finding a manager who tells you when to have a task completed will make you feel more successful. INTERVIEW TIP: Ask the manager how much guidance they provide in terms of deadlines for completing tasks. Inquire if they offer times on a daily or weekly basis so you can get a feel for how you’ll be expected to manage your time.

3. Has formal training.

The military is known for its thorough training and high standards of performance. In the private sector, there’s often a lack of formal training or standardization of performance. Look for an employee who offers a training program that is structured to ensure you feel confident in your ability to deliver. INTERVIEW TIP: Inquire what the training process looks like for someone who joins the company in the role you are interviewing for. Ask how much time it takes to get fully trained and how the training is delivered.

4. Offers clear paths for promotion.

The military has rank. You know exactly what it takes to earn your next promotion. In the private sector, the paths to promotion can be very unclear. Look for employers who can show you how someone who has taken the job you are interviewing for was able to plan and succeed in getting promoted within the company so you have someone to use as a guide. INTERVIEW TIP: Ask about someone who has been recently promoted in the company and what they did to earn the promotion. Then ask if this person set out from the beginning to earn this new role. And if so, what tips could you be given to prepare yourself to be on a similar track to be promoted some day.

Takeaway: Manage Your Expectations By Asking The Right Questions

The secret to finding a good employer as a veteran is to know what to ask in the interview. Using the guidelines above, you can determine if an employer will be able to give you what you’ll need to be successful on the job. Private sector employers vary wildly. It’s up to you to take control and find the one that will work best for you!

PS - Looking For Local Employers Hiring Veterans?

Many companies are actively looking to hire veterans. If there’s a company in your area you’re interested in working for, do an internet search using the company’s name and the words “veterans” and “hiring” and see what comes up. Those that have programs to hire veterans will have information on their hiring process. For example, Foss Manufacturing is focused on hiring veterans and has over twenty open positions. If you do an internet search on, “Foss Manufacturing Veterans Hiring,” you’ll see their employment page comes up in the top of the search results, indicating they’re hiring veterans. Use this technique to find out which local companies in your area are actively hiring veterans.

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