Chris Kyle didn’t become “America’s Most Lethal Sniper” by firing thousands of rounds haphazardly from a machine gun. Like all snipers, he put an intense amount of thought into every shot he took.
You need to approach your job hunt in the same way. Don’t spew your resume to 100 different companies per day like a machine gunner. The secret to getting hired is choosing a target company and creating a personalized strategy for getting hired there. Here’s how to attack your job hunt like a sniper.
Choose your target (Where do you want to work?)
First you need to know what you want to do. This is a hard one, but it’s achievable with a little help. The best way to figure it out is to reach out to other veterans. After you know what you want, it’s a lot easier to choose your target companies. Why a small set? With a small set of targets, it’s easier to start collecting intelligence.
Collect intelligence (Get to know the company and people at the company)
A sniper can’t know the perfect place and time to hit his target without collecting intelligence before he gets on the ground. You need to learn everything humanly possible about the company and the role that you’re targeting. Search for the company on Google News to see who is talking about it and what they’re talking about. Look it up on LinkedIn to see if you have connections – then reach out to those connections to learn more about the company. What words do they use to describe their company? What values are important to them? After you find all of this information, you’ll have a deep understanding of your target so you can choose the perfect position.
Adjust your sights (Write your personalized resume & cover letter)
A sniper might use the same weapon for every mission but he makes changes for wind & distance every time he fires. You need to do the same with your resume. The majority will stay the same but the way you word your experiences should be customized to the job you’re applying for. And your cover letter should be completely different for every application. In most cases, your cover letter is what inspires the hiring manager to take a look at your resume in the first place, so it better be good. Personally, I’ll delete an application immediately if it doesn’t include a cover letter or if the cover letter is an obvious copy-and-paste job for multiple applications. If you won’t take the time to write a personalized cover letter, I won’t take the time to read your application.
Pull the trigger (Deliver your resume & cover letter)
You know your target. You know what’s important to the company and its employees. You’ve written your resume and cover letter specifically targeting the role you’re shooting for. Time to pull the trigger. Though you can always submit your application through the original job posting, I’ve found that the best method is submitting it through a connection at the company. If you’ve collected intelligence correctly, you’ll already have a connection at the company that can push your request through to the right people.
Now rinse and repeat for the rest of the companies on your hit list.
Yes, this is a lot of work for every single job application. But a single round can have a massive effect if it’s fired at the right target, at the right time, from the right position.
About the author
Aaron Saari is a veteran and tech entrepreneur in San Francisco. He writes about military-to-civilian transition, entrepreneurship, and empowering veteran-owned businesses. Aaron is a former Army Engineer officer and West Point graduate who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before leaving the Army in 2012. He immediately joined a tech startup and has been working in tech in San Francisco ever since. He founded Base of Fire, where he helps businesses leverage technology to supercharge their growth. He’s particularly passionate about working with yeteran-owned businesses.