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 job hunting tips to make your military career transition smoother and easily find companies that hire veterans.
Writing Your Resume
Preparing to get back into the civilian workforce can be intimidating after being out of it for a while, but having a tight and concise resume can help you be more confident in your job search. Here are five key tips on creating a CV that will impress companies hiring veterans:
1. Start with a clear objective.
When companies are looking at resumes, they want to see that you have a specific goal in mind. Tailor your resume to each job you apply for by highlighting the skills and experience that match what the company is looking for.
2. Highlight your military experience and transferable skills.
Your time in the military has given you a unique set of skills that civilian employers value. When writing your resume, be sure to highlight any relevant experience and transferable skills, such as leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability.
3. Use action verbs.
When describing your duties and accomplishments in your resume, use action verbs such as “developed,” “managed,” and “led.” This will help to demonstrate your leadership skills and show employers what you are capable of.
4. Keep it concise.
Resumes should be no more than two pages long. Use clear and concise language, and avoid using military jargon that civilians may not understand. Be sure to proofread your resume for any typos or grammatical errors before sending it off to potential employers.
5. Use keywords.
The best companies hiring veterans will often use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to help them sort and organize candidates. These systems are designed to scan resumes for specific keywords that match the job description. So, be sure to include relevant keywords throughout your resume, such as “veteran,” “military experience,” and “leadership.”
Sample Resume Template for Military Veterans
To get you started, here is a sample resume template for military veterans that you can use as a guide:
To secure a position in an organization where I can use my skills and experience to contribute to the company.
Summary of Qualifications:
– Over <X> years of experience in the military, with leadership experience in <type of role>.
– Proven ability to lead and motivate teams to achieve results.
– Strong problem-solving and decision-making skills.
– Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
<Dates served/position held> – <Branch of military>
– Led a team of <X> soldiers in <type of role/mission>.
– Responsible for <duties/accomplishments>.
– <Dates served/position held> – <Branch of military>
<Type of degree> – <Name of school>
– Interpersonal skills
– <Other relevant skills>
– Available upon request.
How To Master the Veteran Job Search
Finding companies that hire veterans and landing a job that you actually like can seem challenging, so it’s best to be prepared. Here’s some advice:
1. 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
2. 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.
3. 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 the 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.
4. 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 themselves 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.
5. Leverage strategic networking opportunities.
Veteran-specific job posting sites like MilitaryHire.com that were 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 hire veterans and 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 in your search for the best places for veterans to work.
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 service. Prepare your military resume and you just may land your next career with this event filled with veteran job help and packed with the best companies that hire veterans!