Even though the unemployment rate for veterans has been trending downward for several months now, many veterans still report being either unemployed or underemployed. One of the reasons cited by employers for veterans not getting jobs in their companies is a failure to effectively communicate during the interview.

Wait! One of the soft skills veterans possess is communication. But communication skills differ according to the situation. Directing a team or squad forward towards the objective is very different than sitting across the desk from an interviewer answering questions.

Being able to communicate in written and verbal forms is critical in job searching. But when it comes to the written form, many employers know that a resume and cover letter may not be a good judge of the applicant’s writing skills. After all, there are many good military-to-civilian transition resume professionals just waiting to write a targeted resume that is both easy to read and comprehend.

If the resume and cover letter did its job, it gets you to the next stage of the job search process – an interview. Here is where many veterans stumble and fall. Unlike a resume, there is no one you can hire to sit in your place during an interview. You must know how to do it right if you are to get a job offer.

3 Benefits of Good interview Communication Skills

So what does right look like?

First, it is the ability to turn military experiences into stories that an interviewer can relate to and understand. In general, veterans do not translate their experiences well during interviews and because of that, they miss out on a prime opportunity to “show them what you got”.

Tip: Be sure to mention if you have a valid security clearance, even if the job you are applying for doesn’t require it. It can lead to an offer for a different job that does require a clearance.

Second, humans in general are social animals and being a good storyteller creates a bond between the interviewer and interviewee. Creating that bond helps the person interviewing you better remember you and your interview. That is important because when applying for a job, you are selling yourself and anything you can do to leave a more favorable impression of you on the interviewer gets you closer to a second interview or an actual job offer.

Third, if you have done your homework, being able to tell a story that shows how you can help be part of the solution to a company’s problem goes a long way to getting a job offer. The only reason a company has a job opening in the first place is because they have a void in that area they are trying to fill. If you can show how you can help fill that void and make that problem go away, it moves you to the short list and possibly to the top.

Improving Communication Skills

Most veterans have a good communication base to start from. If using your GI Bill to go school once out of the military, enroll in some public speaking courses to improve your ability to speak in front of other people.

If not going to school, search the internet for instructional videos and online courses on how to be a better public speaker.

Public speaking is not generally thought of when talking about interviewing, but much of the same principles apply to both forms of verbal communication. Improving on this skill is another tool in your toolbox that can help you land a job worthy of your talent and value.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.