3 Ways a JMO Can Connect Military Experience to Business for a Successful Interview

The key for a JMO to achieve success in an interview is to relate the relevance of his or her accomplishments to the business world.  Roger Cameron describes this concept in detail in chapter 2 of PCS to Corporate America 4th Ed,.  He illustrates this by using an example of when one company declined a JMO because the officer could not explain the significance of why he did what he did. The JMO did a good job explaining how he accomplished a task, but failed to describe how the task ultimately impacted the operational goals of his organization.  This step is critical in connecting your experiences and accomplishments in an interview.

Another way to think about this is that the bottom line goal of the military, in its most general sense, is to fight and win our nation’s wars, both at home and abroad. When describing your experiences and accomplishments, your stories should connect directly to this goal.  Does this mean that every accomplishment you describe must be about fighting on the front lines? No, of course not. It does mean, however, that every story you describe should somehow have a positive impact on this goal.

In Corporate America, our primary goal, in its most general sense, is to increase the profitability of the company for which we work.  Corporate America does this through focusing on the customer, innovating, and being better than the competition.

While interviewing, you will want to connect your military accomplishments in such a way that it shows you can make the same impact at a company.

Here are 3 ways you can do this:

1. Customer Focus: Because customers ultimately pay for a good or service, a company has to focus on understanding customer requirements and find creative ways to meet their needs. As you consider the jobs you have held in the military, identify “customers” you’ve had or currently have. Then determine how you’ve built relationships with them in order to understand their needs and provide solutions that allow them to be more effective.

2.  Innovation: It is rare to pick up a business periodical such as Fortune Magazine and not find at least a couple of articles on companies and how they are innovating. Companies are constantly innovating processes in research and development, production, supply chain, marketing, sales, etc. Companies innovate to outperform their competition or to improve a process to reduce costs, all with the intent of increasing profit. When thinking about your military experience, consider the times when you have made processes better by improving efficiency or effectiveness in delivering results that relate to the operational goals of your unit. These experiences directly connect to what is important to the business world.

3.  Competition: There is rarely an instance in Corporate America where a company does not have competition. Why? Because if Company A is making money selling a product or service, Company B/C/D, etc. will come along and determine that they can do what that company is doing faster/cheaper/better and compete for a share of the market.  In the military, you do not necessarily compete for market share. There is only one Air Force, Marine Corps, Army, Navy and Coast Guard. You do, however, compete. You compete to be the best officer and lead the best unit. You compete, not to make others look bad, but because you are driven to be the best.  It is this spirit of competition that you should embrace and be prepared to describe in an interview.

As you contextualize your military experience and how it relates to Corporate America, use these 3 connecting points to start.  To learn more, read our White Papers and visit our Learning Library and Resource Center, where we have a recommended reading program, podcasts and videos loaded with transition and interview tips.

Joel Junker