Tongue-Tied at a Veteran Career Fair? Try These Talking Points.

Recruiters at veteran career fairs want to know about your development, team work, and leadership abilities. One sales recruiter especially likes it when candidates step right up to meet her. “Don’t be afraid to approach a recruiter’s booth and introduce yourself” she said. “It makes you appear confident.”

Before you make your approach, it’s best to have a few talking points in mind. Even better, prepare a “cheat sheet” ahead of time. Drawing a blank? Asking yourself a few of the following questions may get your wheels turning:

###Leadership Skills
From small unit leaders up to commanders, veterans manage, train, mentor, and develop the people who report to them.

If you trained anyone:

- What did you train them to do?
- Did you create a curriculum and/or lesson plans?
- What was your pass/success rate?

Knowing you can train your replacement clears one more hurdle in your journey up the corporate ladder.

If you managed anyone:

- Did you supervise day-to-day tasks and workloads?
- Did you learn to assess, evaluate, and provide constructive feedback?

Chances are, you mentored and developed others under your command. “As a leader in the Marine Corps, there are a lot of people who you mentor. You tend to know what is going on in their lives, and you learn to be a good listener,” said one Marine Corps veteran. These indirect attributes laid the foundation for him to deliver superior customer service in his current position.

- Was anyone promoted?
- Were there any challenges you faced as a leader? Talk about how you overcame them.

A success story lets employers see how you can be a problem solver on their team.

###Counting Stuff and Fixing Stuff
More than likely, you managed inventory, or you oversaw the maintenance, and repair of critical equipment.

- Talk about the type, amount, and value of the equipment. Work in a strong record of safety and accuracy.
- Did you recognize a process that could be improved, and develop a procedure or system leading to: Lowered costs? Increased efficiency or productivity? Reduced man hours? Did you craft effective standard operating procedures?

###Share Your Coolest Stories
Chances are, if the recruiters you are speaking with are veterans themselves, they can relate. If they are civilians, they’ll probably find your story fascinating, because they don’t have an experience with which to compare it. Sharing stories helps break the ice; makes you memorable; and gives the recruiter a break from the standard Q&A.

One Army veteran related working on the B-2 Stealth Bomber. “Though it looks like the Batmobile from above, up close and inside it’s really a work of art,” she described. “I learned how each layer of the aircraft had a different story to tell, yet they all worked together to accomplish the same mission.”

Every branch of the service mandates some form of self-evaluation. One Marine cited the annual Marine Corps Fit Rep as an example of how he pinpointed his achievements. “I had really been trained all along on how to present myself and talk about my successes,” he said.