by Kim Robertson, Guest Contributor
The overly honest person in me wants to reply, “Well, you see, my husband is military and we were relocated to this area,” whereby the desperate-for-a-job person in me veils it by merely saying, “A spouse job relocation.”
It’s an all too common situation that faces many career-driven military spouses. The dreaded relocation, job hunting, now-I-have-to-explain-myself and plea-my-case-to-the-hiring-manager-hoping-to-get-a-shot scenario.
There is hope, and it comes in the form of young professionals, leading the charge and making sometimes unwelcome waves.
I’m talking about millennials. They are change agents, disrupters and bucking the norm. Companies are adjusting their hiring practices to conform to the needs of this generation. This non-committal group of under 35 year olds is now determining how nearly all corporate companies cultivate their recruiting practices.
In 2012, Forbes reported that 91% of millennials expect to stay in a job less than 3 years. Their job-hopping has become an expectation and companies are reviewing resumes in a new light. Having fewer years at a position is less important than the skills you have mastered. This aligns with military families’ ability to stay in duty stations for about that same amount of time – an average of 3 to 4 years.
If Millennials Can Do It, So Can You: 6 Tips to Job Hunt Like a Boss
I realize you may already be part of this 53-million-person strong labor force. So let’s use the collective force of an incredible generation and take advantage of this new found perspective. Here are 6 tips I’ve found, as a hiring manager myself, to help you job hunt like a millennial:
1. Write a Kick-Ass Cover Letter
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received just a resume, no cover letter. All I want to say to the person is, tell me who you are!
Kick-ass cover letters can’t be done overnight, you should take some time to get to know the company, their values and mission, and how it relates to you and your experience. Then you marry them together in your cover letter and explain why you (and only you) are the right fit for this position. If you have unique skills that you think are right for this position, tell them.
Use the cover letter as an opportunity to introduce yourself to the hiring manager, but don’t go too deep.
Pro-tip: It’s best to keep “relocated due to military orders” off of your cover letter and resume, and instead, just simply state, “recently relocated to the area.”
2. Rearrange Your Resume
Forgo a template resume layout and instead, get creative. Rearrange your resume by highlighting your skills and experience as it relates to the position you are applying to. Include any relevant education, certifications or technical knowledge. Downplay your time at a job by just listing the company contact information and dates in year format (instead of month/year).
By the time the hiring manager gets to your company history, you have sold them on your experience and skills.
Whatever you do, do not include an “objective” at the beginning of the resume. That screams inexperience.
3. Be Tech-Savvy
The millennial generation is known for being connected – an electronic is likely never less than arm’s length away. Companies have taken note to recruits’ usage of social media, and now, more than ever, recruit through these platforms.
LinkedIn is the first place I turn to in order to learn about an applicant. Do you have a profile, and if so, how up to date is it? Do we have connections in common?
If so, you better believe I’m going to ask them to be a reference for you whether you know it or not. It can also be a great place to find postings from companies in your area – ones that aren’t listed elsewhere.
Twitter is a great tool to find out information about specific companies, beyond their corporate website. Imagine, walking into an interview and the hiring panel asks you, “what do you know about us?” and you can reply with ease information found through their own social media channels.
It’s easy for anyone to read the corporate firm profile on the website, but taking it one step further and monitoring their social media channels will show you are an engaged recruit who really wants the job.
4. Realize That 1 to 2 Years May Not Be Enough
It may be a cruel fact, but if I do see 1 to 2 years’ experience on someone’s resume, several positions in a row, I will think twice about moving them on to the next round. Unless, their skills, experience and cover letter compel me to reconsider.
In an entry-level position, I’m more willing to take a chance on an applicant with varied experience, than I am for a mid- or senior-level position. For those positions, I am really looking for someone with more stability – 3 or more years.
5. Use the Interview to Your Advantage
More and more, interviews are becoming a two-way street for both sides of the table to get to know each other.
Don’t forget, you are also interviewing the company. Ask questions about the culture, working environment and even what the last person in your position was like (if they have since moved on). Find out if these are the people you want to spend the next 3 years with, while you are at this duty station.
You don’t have to take the first offer from the first company. You can always turn them down. There will be no hard feelings on either side.
So if it doesn’t feel like the perfect place to spend several years at, don’t take the plunge.
6. Negotiate for Benefits You Want
Vacation leave is old news when it comes to benefits.
Companies are negotiating better benefits for their employees – everything from telecommuting several days of the week, to paid hiatuses and flexibility in between.
Use this flexibility in negotiations to your advantage. You likely do not need health insurance, so that could translate into a paid stipend instead. Flexible work schedules could look like Friday afternoons off or every other Monday off.
Get creative, because likely, the 20-something in the cubicle next to you has negotiated for a sweet deal.
Military spouses can easily leverage the way they job hunt by taking advantage of new corporate recruiting policies put in place thanks to young professionals. Stop thinking of yourself as a “short-timer” applicant and start thinking of yourself as part of the largest generation in the U.S. workforce.
What are your tips for job hunting like a boss?
Kim Robertson is a marketing executive in Denver. She is Wonder Woman by day and Super Mom by night. When she is not wearing her gold headband driving through the Starbucks drive-thru, she is rocking the white go-go boots at soccer practice or sporting a red cape to bed. Her biggest challenge in life is conquering the work-life balance thing. When she is not taking on the world, she is blogging about her adventures raising her daughter while her husband lives 1200 miles away. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.