Expert Advice for Veterans in Career Transition

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Here’s some expert tips and advice for our valued veterans about how to apply for a job in a new industry by Newland Associates CEO, Robert Newland.

Question: What barriers might exist to breaking into a new industry and how can they best overcome these barriers?

                 I’d say two things. First, having industry related skills. There’s a lot going on today in reskilling, and for good reason. As new industries slow down and others emerge, it is important to reinvent oneself. The other main issue is how to convey the message of the value you bring, although you come from another industry…but more on that below.


Question: Are there any benefits that having a fresh perspective could bring and how could they leverage and best convey these benefits during the application and hiring process?

Outside the box thinking is always valuable. Unfortunately, it is more often up to the recruiter to be open minded about this. Some recruiters live in their box and there’s nothing a job seeker can do to change that. So, if you’re interviewing with an “inside the box” recruiter, try to convey your responses in ways that relate to their industry. However, if you’re dealing with an “outside the box” recruiter, then play the fresh perspective angle.


Question: What examples could you offer on how applicants have done a great job in this area?

Sure. The more successful applicants are those who are able to translate their skills descriptions, both on the resume and in the interview in a way that allows the recruiter to envision them beyond a particular industry. For example, some applicants talk about accomplishments in industry jargon, which may not help recruiters outside the sector understand the value they bring. Imagine saying you were able to increase copier toner sales by 20% and exceeded the quota of drums by 5,000 units…that may not be the best message if you’re pitching yourself to say, the insurance industry.


Question: What do you look for/ lookout for when considering applicants with different industry backgrounds?

The first thing I consider is whether industry expertise is really necessary. Oftentimes hiring authorities want industry background because they associate it with the skills they expect. However, multiple industries can sometimes provide those skills. For example, a salesperson may not have to come from the same sector. Product/industry knowledge can be acquired, so I focus on the actual skills related to selling like ability to prospect, make presentations, price and close on deals.


Robert Newland sits on the Board of Directors for Newland Associates affiliate, Career Partners International (CPI), one of the largest providers of executive coaching & outplacement services in the world with over 300 locations. He is also the region leader for the Florida – Caribbean market.