Sending out a generic CV, writing ‘Dear CEO’ in your covering letter and over-emphasising the importance of a Prince 2 qualification are just some of the ways you won’t fully engage a recruiter. Head of Talent Brand at Deloitte, Liz Coombs, shares her frank advice on how to increase your chances of impressing, when you approach large, corporate organisations.
Finding the correct person to approach in a corporate organisation takes research but it’s certainly worth it, if you want to demonstrate that you’re serious about finding the right role for yourself and have put in genuine effort.
Liz gives Deloitte as an example: “At our company there will be about 40 people within the recruiting team who are very experienced at surveying ex-military CVs.
Do not just send out a generic CV with everything you’ve ever done on it and hope it will land on the desk of someone sympathetic.”
- Think about where you want to be placed within the company
- Do your research and find out who looks after the roles you’re interested in
- Pick up the phone and talk – recruiters are happy to have a verbal conversation
- Make the recruiter’s job as easy as you can for them by tailoring your CV to the specific role
- Connect with people who have been through your experience and can advise you on how to apply
You have a fantastic set of transferable skills that must not be under-estimated and will certainly set you apart from many other applicants. These include:
- Can-do attitude
- Ability to cope under pressure
- Drive and determination
- Problem solving
- Analytical reasoning
- Communication skills
Liz says: “Don’t underestimate your ability to cope under pressure. I hear time and time again that employers are impressed by ex-military because of their can-do attitude.”
The ability to lead or keep a cool head are highly valued by employers but again, be specific and tailor to the role. She adds: “You’ll be more developed than your peers at problem-solving and won’t be intimidated by communicating with senior people.”
Liz also re-iterated that the words dynamic, motivated and versatile are to be used sparingly, and with caution. “As soon as I see those words I know I’m looking at a generic, one-size-fits-all CV.”
Make sure your tone matches that of the organisation you’re applying to. Read job descriptions and look at their material online.
Liz recommends immersing yourself in the language of an organisation. “At Deloitte we find people’s applications contain quite earnest language, we’re more straightforward than that.” She adds: “Omit military acronyms. You don’t want to make the reader work hard to decipher.”
Don’t assume that corporates won’t be interested in the more ‘mature service leaver’. Liz comments: “It really depends on the organisation but there are many who have a strong appetite for those with more experience in technical backgrounds.”
At the same time, don’t expect to go straight into a senior position, without learning the trade first.