Through experience, I’ve found that your No. 1 advocate needs to be yourself. You can have a hundred references or know a thousand people, but the person that knows you the best out of everyone is going to be you.
Before I landed my first job after college graduation, I interviewed more than 20 times. At the beginning, I was aggressively applying and mass emailing whoever and whatever was out there.
Then, I noticed that it wasn’t working because nothing was sticking. I’m not quite an aggressive person, just someone that knows what I want and goes for it 110%. I started focusing on just myself and what are the real qualities that make me tick and a hard worker–taking all the resume points and throwing it out the window (particularly for the cover letter).
Your resume is what gets you the job interview, but it isn’t what makes the first impression, right?
Since becoming my own best advocate in my career, work hasn’t felt like work and that’s the best part of it all. Aside from the workplace, being your own advocate helps you in all aspects of life. For example, it can help nurture relationships or friendships, volunteer opportunities, education and any other thing that contributes to your life.
I recently sat down with a very close friend of mine because she’s about to embark on a brand-new adventure. She’s going to leave our hometown for a job and begin a new journey. I’ve always found comfort in talking things out, especially if it helps in the long run. When we met up, she was hoping that I could offer some insight.
Well, everything is definitely relative, but I did suggest that she shouldn’t just settle with what’s given to her, especially if a huge change would be the result. Once a job offer is on the table, what’s the worst that can happen if you ask to negotiate? Everything is worth it, especially if it’s something you want to pursue.
Here are 5 ways that military spouses can be their own best advocates during job interviews, in their job searches and in their workplaces.
1. Keep a Positive Attitude
This one has helped me, particularly with my transition into military life. When I left my life in New York City to start anew with my husband, I was scared and didn’t know how I was going to move forward. The life I built for myself was that, for myself. The thought of including another human in my decisions was confusing, but it wasn’t something I was willing to compromise…I didn’t want to be without him. So, I realized that in order for me to start my life with my husband, I needed to jump in headfirst with a happy and full heart.
Also, I had to understand that, while I may be my best advocate, my husband is high on the list too and having another person on your side can be great. He’s always encouraging and it makes it easy to keep a positive attitude.
2. Come Armed with a List of Your Strengths
Your resume is a great document that has your professional accolades and lists your pertinent jobs. Sometimes we think we have to play a part or tell people what we think they want to hear, but that could backfire. If you put together a different persona for yourself, it starts to be difficult to maintain.
Before any job interview or just when you want some personal reflection time, it’s beneficial to put together a list of qualities that are your strengths. It’s easy to be yourself and, you wouldn’t want to be doing something that yourself wouldn’t want to do anyway.
3. Tie Your Strengths Together
This is my favorite part! When my friend and I were discussing options and her different skills, we reaffirmed her pros and cons list, so she had the right arsenal she needed in her negotiation process. Keep an ongoing story of your journey, at every angle, so you can refer to it when the time is needed.
4. Acknowledge Your Mistakes and Missteps
Nobody is perfect–and mentioning some of the things you’re working on makes you human. Keep it honest and to the point, so it doesn’t become an elaborate highlight of the mistake. It’s really a good thing to bring up some of the things that made you yourself. I would even go as far as showcasing some instances that it’s helped you grow as an individual. Also, you can turn it around with my final note.
5. Share Your Game Plan for Your Mistakes
Now that you’ve kept it real and honest during this job interview, you need to quickly highlight how you are working on your mistakes and learning from the experience. Several organizations put together an After Action Report (AAR) that has all the great, good, bad and ugly details of an event. It’s so every member can learn from each event and how to improve it moving forward.