Changing careers and have no or little experience at the new career.

May 07, 2012 |

1. When you change careers the focus will be on the “softer” skills – referred to as “transferable” or “portable” skills.These skills include communication skills, ability to work with a diversity of people, ability to plan and organize, time management, etc.

2. Each candidate is unique. What makes you unique? Think about your personality and your personal traits. One of the things that the interviewer is looking for is “someone to fit in” – who is likeable – will work well with the other team members. Personal traits could be the tie breaker between two equally qualified people. Think of at least five personal traits that make you unique – friendly, flexible, quick learner, reliable, responsible, easy to get along with.

3. Believe in yourself. Show confidence in the fact that you can do the job. Any sales person will tell you that when you believe in your product and its reliability it will is far easier to sell and influence someone to buy.

4. Prepare five to ten questions to ask about the company. It is also important to listen to what is said as a way to formulate other questions. If a certain topic, for example, “databases,”has been brought up, be sure to ask questions about the database -the challenges and the problems with the database.

5. Prepare stories about your past experiences where you used similar skills that would be needed for the position you are interviewing for. When you can show examples of past successes, you will have a better chance of showing the interviewer that you have used similar skills even if the job duties are different.

About Carole Martin

The Interview Coach, Carole Martin, is a celebrated author, job coach, and speaker on the subject of interviewing and recruiting. A contributing writer at and featured on talk radio, Carole is using her proven methods for coaching job seekers on competitive interviewing skills in technical and non-technical industries. Learn more about her Federal Agency Interview Coaching and Coaching for Business Interviews at
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  1. Tim Hughes says:

    What is sad about this article is, no details on why employers pass up a season( VET). I have applied to over 80 jobs since completeing my 22 years on active duty. I had a good job when it was cut due to the DOD cuts. Since, I have had only three interviews, and no call backs. What is wrong with employers wanting a (VET) who knows how to show up on time, listen and follow instructions, work as a team player, adapt to to changes in mid stream. I just don't get it. It's like employers think we are done and washed up. I am only 47 with a variety of skills, but it's like noone wants to take a chance and helping a (VET) start a new career. I'm just saying ! God Bless us vets !!!!!!!

    • CJ Morton says:

      I have the same problem. 20 Yrs US Navy. contact me maby we can help each other out (

    • Kim says:

      It is not that you are being past over. Our "VETs" must understand, yes employers are excited about having a VET on their team, but they also want that VET to have some education under their belt. Most VETs feel that their time in service alone is enough and unfortunately it is not. Employers are looking for seasoned VETS with education and experience, good work ethics.

      VETs dont get discouraged by an employer not taking you on right away. I would highly suggest, you take a class or two towards what ever field you are appplying for. The job opportunities are their, but never give up or give in. In some cases you may need to relocate. Especially if the area where you live has a high unemployment rate.

    • BillE says:

      Hang in there. You may even try posing the same question to the interviewer. If he or she is far enough up the food chain they may be willing to listen to reason. If I was hiring, I'd put you at the top of my list. Good luck.

  2. eva says:

    I worked as a GS-12 in the VA as a registered dietitian. I am now retired after 25 years of service this include my military time. They gave me a $25,000 buy out because I was under the old retirement system. Now I am 64 year old. My question: could I go back to work PT with the VA or not? Please let me not the benefits and the down side.

  3. Steve says:

    I agree with you Tim…my boat is in the same waters. I retired last year from the Air Force after 25 years…I even have a Masters Degree in Management. I keep being told I am a strong applicant but someone else was selected. I think I have passed you on the jobs…been on about two dozen interviews with about four to five personnel on the panel. In this economy…one of the reasons I feel like I don't move on is because some feel I already retired with good benefits…sure, I am only 44…but I was enlisted. I was blessed to make the military a career but our non-vet folks have no idea what it took. I've even put in for jobs I would have never—ever—even give a look at in the past. And nothing. It is more than frustrating…it can make you angry. So, it isn't as if I am being picky here.

  4. David Daughdrill says:

    I think a lot of the time VETs are older and most employers are looking for a younger knowledgeable college grad. that they can bring on board at a lower price. I have been out of work for two years with medical issues. I can't even get people to look at me. I have the education and experience but when it comes time to verify it my age shows and interest is gone. Best of luck it will happen

  5. Russell Asbill says:

    ladys refine yourselves, no offense. its very hard out there i have 23 years in heavy equipment not lookin good but never ever let you or your branch down we are the elite. the razors edge the'll come a day believe in you, im losing my house atm time to tightin up the old boot stabs baby. love all you and ty for you sacrifices! Russ Asbill combat engineer 62b.

  6. alowstress says:

    I think that the active duty command has failed to support the retiring members in their transition. The VA does not do enough in hiring vets. I also know of others well educated, some who educated theough their va benifits and still they get overlooked by the very administration that should be happy to get a veteran to take care and look out for their brothers and sisters of the armed forces. They want experience however they want someone that will stay mum as legislator trample over the dream to grow after service while we sacrifice to sustain the non-enlisted american dream.

  7. John Michael Calitri says:

    Innovation, creativity, Entrepreneurism, are traits that are discouraged in the military and
    are difficult to learn in a civilian job. My solution is to stage a company and direct the players as if you are doing a play or movie. All of life is a stage and in time we all play different parts. If you want to be an actor call me and I will get you started. JMC-MFA-SMU

  8. new vet says:

    I understand the frustration that many of you have right now. At least many of you are retired. I wasn't allowed to re-enlist and have nothing now but separation pay and only seven years of experience under my belt. Getting some kind of health insurance is my first major worry. I'm 41 starting all over again at the bottom of the barrel. However, it isn't the end of the world. What we must all remember is that there is a job out there just waiting to be found. It's just a matter of time and perseverance. Keep your chin up and just keep trying! Eventually we will all find work in one form or another. Might be time to get creative and do something completely different. Good luck to you all!

    • cjhotchk says:

      Thank you for the post. I am sort of in the same situation. I am 42 and starting all over again. I have been applying for jobs for about a year now. I just graduated this month with my master’s degree, and have had little luck finding a job. I have probably applied to 40 different jobs on and have had only had one interview in which I was not selected for the position. I have thought about giving up but after reading your post I think I will just keep on trying. Something has to come up. I have too much work experience and education to just go to waste.