We know transitioning to a civilian job can be tough for our military service men and women. Employers want to hire veterans, as demonstrated by the continued decline in the veteran unemployment rate – the lowest it has been in over a decade. But it still can be challenging to find a workplace that utilizes your diverse skills and values your military service. And many veterans find themselves underemployed – meaning working in a job they’re overqualified for.
Read on to discover specific veteran job hunting tips to make your military career transition less bumpy.
How to Master the Veteran Job Search
Ensure your resume is easily understood.
Chances are that the recruiter reading your resume has never served in the military. Civilians don’t understand military acronyms, MOS codes, and jargon. The more impressive your resume looks from a military standpoint, the less desirable you’re going to look on paper to an untrained civilian. Unfair? Yes, but true.
How to do it? Translate your specific skills into keywords specific to the job you’re seeking. Here’s one translator tool to try.
Where to get veteran resume help
If you need some extra help to create a great veterans resume, check out these great resources.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- Military One Source
- National Veterans Association
Target your job search.
You might be open to different career paths, and you may be perfectly capable of performing a number of diverse roles, but hiring managers don’t take the time to consider that. They’re overworked and overwhelmed, looking for a round peg to fit a round hole. That means each resume they see gets twenty seconds of attention, tops. Just the summary and the last two job titles, in many cases.
How to do it? Laser-focus each resume on the specific position you’re applying for, so you make it easier for the recruiter to move you to the next step in your veteran job search. Don’t try and turn a recruiter into your career counselor, that doesn’t work.
Prepare yourself for the culture shift.
You think you’re being respectful; an employer may think you’re too formal. You may run up against the common stereotype that veterans are too rigid.
How to do it? Practice your interviewing skills with a friend or family member who understands business culture in the civilian world. Research business culture in industries that interest you. Ditch the “Sir” and “Ma’am”; first names are the norm in most business settings.
Focus on your future outside the military.
Maybe you’re still speaking longingly of your time in the service, or you slip up by speaking of your division or battalion as “we” in the present. This can also be an issue for civilians who haven’t mentally separated from their former jobs. It doesn’t sit well in a job interview since an employer will think you aren’t ready to move on.
How to do it? Mentally prepare yourself for your new life outside the military. Think about how your experiences could benefit your next employer and what you’re looking forward to in this next phase of your life.
Leverage strategic networking opportunities.
Veteran-specific job posting sites like MilitaryHire.com that was created by and for veterans are great. However, it is also important to leverage opportunities through your professional network. This can be tough when you’ve spent the past several years, or your entire career, in the military.
How to do it? Get to know people who work in companies that are known to be military-friendly. Do they offer an Employee Resource Group for veterans? Do they have a dedicated veteran recruiter? Employers like this are out there! Fellow veterans can be an alumni network for you.
Attend events like BestCompaniesAZ’s Military Career Event, where you’ll meet people who value your skills and abilities acquired during your time in the military. You just may land your next career with this event filled with veteran job help!