Although we’d all like to believe that the world is a perfect meritocracy and that if we just present ourselves well we will be given a chance. Unfortunately, it’s not true.
In any given situation, people likely to gravitate and give unconscious credit to something that is more familiar. This is a very useful trait that has served humankind very well since the dawn of civilization. Back when people were only hunting and gathering, seeing a familiar plant, path, or face could literally mean life or death. Sadly, this trait has followed us into modern times.
Hiring managers know what a particular school produces, what kinds of workers particular roles produce, and how to manage folks with those backgrounds. They don’t quite understand what they are supposed to do with an artillery loader, though. And who can blame them?
On top of that, most industries are really pretty small communities. It’s easy for most workers to get a positive reputation by building their resumes and networks. That’s why references can be so important, and why having advocates can mean the difference between getting hired and not.
So what can a veteran do? Network with people within those industries and companies, and set up as many informational interviews as possible.