How to make your job application get you an interview

When looking for a new job, either as a service leaver, Veteran or Reservist, you want your job application to get you an interview. But how do you standout against the other 10s or 100s of applicants? Your military experience is a great selling point, you just need to translate it into what recruiters and employers want.

Check your qualifications

One thing that the Armed Forces is getting better at is ensuring that people leave the military with more qualifications than they entered with. That could be going from basic 5 GCSEs to a Master’s degree or accredited professional training such as Prince 2, City and Guilds or ILM certification. Check whether any of the training you have done can be accredited by “civilian” qualifications. If you do this, it makes it a lot easier for employers to understand your level of training and expertise.

For example, if you successfully completed your Junior soldier/sailor/airman leadership courses, make sure you get the accreditation from the CMI or ILM, particularly if you’re aiming for team leader/ supervisor type roles.

Before applying for specific roles, research typical requirements of roles you like and see where you can offer something extra. Then when it comes to applying for specific roles, detail your most relevant and up to date certifications. Many of these certifications are expensive for employers to get for their staff. So if you’ve already got them, you’re potentially saving them money and risk.


Yes, it’s time consuming. We know; we’ve been there too. But you need to know as much as you can about what an employer does so that you can best tailor your job application to what they need. You can find loads of information about employers online, be that their own website and social media pages, recent news, employee reviews on Glassdoor or customer reviews on Trustpilot for example (other review pages are available). Talk to people in your network that may have some connection to that organisation. Insider information can be invaluable in helping you tailor your application.

Translate your experience into commercial terms

Quite often, military candidates get turned down due to a lack of commercial experience. So how can you overcome that? Most organisations want their employees to deliver value. This can be bottom line profit achieved through sales, cost-efficiencies, through service delivery, improved customer/client relations or improved reputation in the market place. Think about your experience and achievements and how you can categorise them in these terms. Think of the “so what” question that the military loves. So you’ve achieved the rank of Sgt, so what? How does that help me as an employer? It means you have proven people management skills of a team of x. It means you have been given responsibilities for the following types of projects (list) If you can answer that in your job application, you’re demonstrating your value and what you can help them with.

Throughout this article, we have used the term application deliberately. Some organisations may want a CV and covering letter, others will have application forms, or applications via a webpage. However, the advice above still stands regardless of method. Before starting your job application ensure you understand the environment that the employer is operating in. Then you can demonstrate how you can not only fit into that, but help them thrive.

Joint Force Alba: Enabling organisations in Scotland to recruit exceptional talent from the Armed Forces. If you’d like to keep up to date with the recruitment market in Scotland for service leavers, Veterans and Reservists, follow get in touch with the team today or follow us on Social media: LinkedIn Twitter.