Are you involved in Scouting and looking to get into a great university or land a job? Interviewing is no simple process with, on average, less than 10% of interviewees being extended an offer. With those kinds of odds, you’ll likely need to use every edge you can to beat out the competition and win your dream position!
You may not realize this yet, but if you’ve spent a considerable portion of your life in Scouting you actually have a secret weapon for crushing interviews. Interviewers love resourceful people, and as a scout, you’ve been trained from day one to be prepared and think on your feet. In an interview, if you haven’t been talking about your Scouting experience, you’re likely selling yourself short.
As an Eagle Scout myself, I would know. In fact, every job or internship I’ve held so far has been due, in some part, to effectively referencing my time in Scouting and how it would help me succeed if hired. In this article, I’ll give you five easy hacks you can use during your next interview to highlight your Scouting experience and win the job that you want!
Keep in mind, generally, only about 2% of applicants are given the opportunity to interview for a job they’ve applied to. That’s right, 98% of people are disqualified before they can even speak to an actual person. That’s why a great resume is key. For a full walkthrough on how to even get that first interview by highlighting your Scouting experience on your resume, check out my full guide to listing Eagle Scout on your resume.
1) Scouting Equals Growth and Learning
If you had to categorize scouting in one sentence, could you do it? You might be able to, but it’ll be pretty tough. That’s because, in Scouting, you’re constantly learning and doing new things. Do you know where else you’ll be expected to learn quickly and try new things? That’s right, your first job.
By showing an interviewer or hiring manager that you’re ready to grow and learn, they’ll be more likely to see you as the perfect candidate for the job. You can do this by referencing the many activities you’ve participated in and merit badges you’ve earned. This works for college applications as well! Everyone tends to believe in an individual who can constantly learn and grow.
Tip: You don’t need to go into too much detail, but if the opportunity presents itself, be ready to talk about a few of the most interesting merit badges you’ve earned.
For example, during an interview, a good way to phrase this would be:
“While some people might be pretty uncomfortable facing unexpected challenges, I actually love to learn new things. In fact, one of the reasons why I listed Scouting on my resume was because, like this role, Scouting involves constantly learning new skills. We’d earn merit badges in anything from personal management to basket weaving, and it wasn’t easy! We learned to become organized, tracking our budget for months, and even conducted our own scientific experiments!”
Pretty convincing, right? Now, are you starting to see how talking about your Scouting experience might be able to improve your interview game? Here’s how you can make this statement your own:
- Take the time to assess your own Scouting experience.
- Identify what some of the greatest challenges you’ve overcome have been.
- Figure out what you did and learned in order to succeed.
- Consider how this experience would apply to the job that you’re interviewing for
- Use the premise of growth and learning in Scouting to add credibility to your point.
If you’ve done this right, you’ve now prepared an awesome talking point that demonstrates you’ll be able to learn quickly and succeed if given the position. I’ve done this myself, and it really works. If you really want to crush interviews, just like Scouting, you’ll need to be prepared.
2) Highlight Community Service Projects
What’s more impressive than completing a project? Completing a community service project. In a job interview, all of the volunteer work that you’ve done in Scouting will finally pay off. Take the opportunity to talk about community service projects that you’ve helped organize and carry out.
In most jobs, you’ll be responsible for the completion of many long-term projects. Employers want to feel confident that you’ll be able to plan, organize, and complete these tasks without needing too much of their help. Having a track record of completing community service projects is great evidence that you’re up for the challenge.
The best way to use this experience during an interview is to highlight 3 main parts of your community service projects:
- Planning and organizing
- Working and leading
- Results and future followup
Believe it or not, these are also necessary aspects of most projects you’ll be working on whether you’re in college or at your first job. Most work you’ll be assigned in will have a pre-planning phase, an execution phase, and a post-project phase. Luckily, you know all of this because you’ve been doing community service projects for years!
Tip: Not only do community service projects mirror real-life projects, they also demonstrate that you have the drive to help those who are less fortunate.
Pro-Tip: Be sure to talk about the actual results of the project. If you can include that you fed 200 children or built a new hiking trail that reduced injuries by 80%, your achievement will be seen as more credible and impactful! Always remember, employers love hearing numbers to back up results.
A good way of phrasing your community service experience would be:
“Some of my most difficult projects have actually come from Scouting. In my troop, we’d periodically organize community service projects which sometimes took months of planning in advance. During those projects I managed dozens of scouts and volunteers, and learned to delegate when necessary. However, the results speak for themselves. Once, we raised over $3000 for a homeless shelter by hosting a canned food drive and outreach project. Afterwards, I personally ensured that we followed up with the organization and solidified plans to work with them again in the future.”
In my example, the formula was that first I set the stage, touching on how we had planned the project. Then, I talked about the execution of the actual event, as well as some of the learnings and results. In the end, I made sure to include my follow up to show that I could be meticulous when planning for the future
This community service point isn’t for everyone. Sometimes, you just don’t have a lot of experience in this, and that’s OK. However, if you did participate in a lot of community service during your time as a scout, you’d be missing out by not including it. This can be one of the most powerful Scouting experiences you could include when interviewing for a job.
3) Show That You Have Experience as a Leader
I didn’t believe it at first, but most places that hire you do it with the hopes that one day you’ll be promoted to a leadership position within their organization. If you can use your time in Scouting as evidence, hiring managers will more readily believe you’re up to the challenge of responsibly leading others later on in your career.
If you’re applying to a position where the hiring manager doesn’t care if you have leadership skills, take it as a bad sign. That means they’re not looking to promote you, and that they just want someone to handle their busywork. You’ve made it through Scouting, so I know that you can do better than that. Look for a place where you can lead and let your talents shine.
From my own mistakes, I now know that you should never frame leadership as your main goal when starting a new job. No one will want to hire some entry-level applicant who starts talking about how they’re wanting to become the boss right away. However, by including a few stories of how you acted successfully as a leader, this will reassure the interviewer that you do have the ability to one day move up.
Here is the secret formula, in three easy steps, of how to plan a talking point around your leadership experience:
- Determine a leadership experience you’ve had that is relevant to the role.
- Identify a time in that role when you’ve had difficulty leading
- Recall how you solved the problem and became a better leader.
“In Scouting, I was in the position of an assistant senior patrol leader, which is essentially the leader that helps organize all of the other troop leaders. Some of the new leaders I was in charge of were having some difficulty adjusting to the responsibility. They didn’t feel ready to be in the position. At first, I was having a lot of difficulty just trying to tell them what to do. What I learned was, instead, I should show them. I shadowed each one, providing personalized, helpful pointers, and commending them on their successes. By actually being beside them, instead of telling them what to do, not only did they grow as leaders — we also grew closer and became a more cohesive team as a result.”
See how I used the formula? I noted a leadership position that I held, identified a difficulty that I was having, and then touched upon how I solved the problem as well as the overall results from it (the 4 sections underlined). You can do this with any leadership experience you’ve had! Just be sure to show that you can identify and solve problems as a leader.
Tip: Try to avoid going into too much detail as when explaining your position. It can be confusing for those not involved in Scouting. All you need to do is mention is the number of people you’ve lead, as well as some of your basic responsibilities.
Leadership is your key to moving into jobs that are less repetitive and pay more. In any job your applying to, I’d always recommend showing that you’re driven to lead and be promoted. That way, if you’re hired, they’ll be looking to train you to move up right from the start!
4) Indicate You’re a Fun, Well-Rounded, And Worldly Person
So many people miss this! They approach every job interview too seriously and forget to even smile or show their personality. Would you want to hire someone that seems like they’d be exhausting to talk to? I didn’t think so. Be the job applicant who’s not afraid to be themselves.
Scouting is a great way to talk about things you like to do for fun. Alongside each of the other four points, Scouting also demonstrates that you’re comfortable working together with others as part of a team. I’m sure you have some exciting stories from your time in Scouting, so don’t be afraid to talk about some of your positive ones.
Literally every time I’ve brought up past Scouting activities during an interview, the interviewers have reacted positively. These stories helped to engage the people I was speaking with, and move the interview to a more conversational tone. Most adults have had experience in the outdoors: either camping, hiking, or just simply being in nature. Use this to your advantage by relating to their interests!
Tip: Make sure you’re not bragging here. There’s a big difference between saying, “ Scouting had me outdoors and on my feet a lot. We’d often go on hikes and camps during the weekends, while the other kids were indoors, watching TV” and, “Yeah, I got to travel in Scouting all the time. We go on awesome hikes, go fishing, and do a lot of cool stuff that no one else could.”
I won’t go into too much detail here, as referencing your own experience in the outdoors is pretty self-explanatory. Basically, your main goal should just be to relate to their interests. Your Scouting experience should demonstrate that you’re a well-rounded person, not only able to be a good employee but a good coworker as well.
5) Demonstrate Commitment Through Your Time in Scouting
What does Scouting have in common with almost every other difficult thing? The answer: it requires enormous persistence to complete. Many of the most important things that you’ll be doing in your life and your career will be done over the span of months if not years. Everything worthwhile requires commitment, and Scouting is a clear example that you’ve exhibited this quality.
If an employer knows that you’ve stuck with Scouting for a good portion of your life, they’ll feel more confident in believing that you’ll stick with their company for a long time too. Commitment is what differentiates almost identical candidates. The interviewee who shows a greater level of commitment will always be more likely to get the job than the interviewee who does not
The best way to highlight your commitment is through numbers. Metrics lend credibility to your statements and help to show the extent of your Scouting experience. If anything, figure out these two metrics for yourself:
- The total number of years you were involved In Scouting
- The total hours you spent volunteering for community service projects
I promise you, these numbers will speak for themselves.
You don’t necessarily need to expand on these accomplishments, and can simply insert them into conversations when touching upon your Scouting experience. Not only will these types of statements lend credibility to your experience in Scouting, they’ll also show the employer how committed you are to seeing things through.
If you made it this far, you’re now ready to learn my number one hack to referencing Scouting and crush your future interviews. This trick is much more powerful than the last five but will take some critical thought to get right. Are you up for the challenge?
Bonus: Connect Scouting to The Role You’re Applying For
Sounds easy, right? While it isn’t difficult to start trying to connect your Scouting experience with the position, it’s a challenging skill to actually get right. The difference here is that you’ll actually need to dissect the university or job description to see how your Scouting experience aligns with the work you’ll be doing.
What you’re really being tested on here is how well you can step into the shoes of the employer. Ask yourself, what skills are they wanting to see from you, and how have you exhibited those skills in the past? I know this tip might seem obvious to some of you, but so many people actually don’t use this technique when interviewing.
The power of connecting your experience to the position is not only limited to Scouting. If you can tie any of your past experiences to a role you might be doing in the future, you’ll be seen as a much stronger candidate.
For example, if you’re interviewing for a job as a cashier, the job description will likely call for someone who is responsible, able to speak with customers, and detail oriented. There are a ton of ways that you can connect your Scouting experience to these qualities. For example:
“In Scouting, we’d do a lot of fund-raising. I would often talk to dozens of people per week, asking them if they would be interested in buying our popcorn to support Scouting. Over time, I improved my communication skills and was able to make more sales. Afterwards, I was tasked with recording and managing all of the money we collected, ensuring that all of our inventory was accounted for, and following up with each of the customers.”
In the above example, I broke the role down into distinct skillsets. Then, I catered my statement to those qualities by providing an experience demonstrating responsibility, comfort while speaking with others, and attention to detail.
When you’re interviewing, you’ll also want to be constantly referencing your suitability for the job. The absolute best way to do this is through the stories you tell about your past experiences.
Connecting your Scouting experience to the role you’re applying for isn’t easy, but it’s so valuable. I know this isn’t a simple skill to learn, so I’ve also written another article specifically on developing this skill. It will walk you through the foundations of this skill in more detail, and show you how to directly apply it to writing an amazing resume. You can check it out here.
Your Scouting experience is likely one of the most useful assets you have when interviewing, yet for most scouts, it’s being entirely overlooked. To get the job that you want, you’ll need to stand out from the competition. By effectively highlighting your Scouting experience, you demonstrate that you have the skills necessary to succeed if given a chance in the role.
Like I said earlier though, only about 2% of all applicants are given the opportunity to interview. Your resume is the key to getting your foot through the door. If you’re an Eagle Scout, there are only a few times where it might not be a good idea to list Scouting on your resume. You can find out if you fall into any of those categories, here.
Job hunting isn’t easy, but remember, eventually you will get through it. By using your background effectively, you’ll be able to differentiate yourself from the competition and have better odds of success. If you can highlight your experiences in Scouting through awesome stories outlining the skills you’ve developed, I’m sure you won’t be interviewing for long!