We know transitioning to a civilian job can be tough for our military service men and women. Employers do want to hire veterans, despite how it may feel at times. But you may be shooting yourself in the foot. Read on for five common problems veterans can have in their job hunt, and the solutions.
Your resume isn’t written in English. 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.
The solution: Translate your specific skills into key words specific to the job you’re seeking. Here’s one translator tool to try.
Your job search is too vague. 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.
The solution: 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. Don’t try and turn a recruiter into your career counselor, that doesn’t work.
You aren’t prepared for the culture shift. You think you’re being respectful; an employer thinks you’re too formal. You may run up against the common stereotype that veterans are too rigid.
The solution: 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.
You haven’t mentally separated from 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.
The solution: Focus on the future and how your experiences could benefit your next employer.
You aren’t networking effectively. Almost nobody gets a job through a posting, we get jobs through people we know. This can be tough when you’ve spent the past several years in the military.
The solution: Get to know people who work in companies that are known to be military-friendly. Fellow veterans can be an alumni network for you. Attend events like the BestCompaniesAZ 2017 Military Career Event, where you’ll meet people who appreciate your skills and abilities. Connect with us here to get the latest on pre-event workshops and resources and to be notified when registration opens up in January.
About the Author
Lee Vikre – Hiring Jedi
A workplace culture maven, writer, and speaker, Lee Vikre has helped numerous companies develop “best company” cultures, gaining recognition at the local and national level. Lee has been called the Jedi Master of hiring because of her exceptional recruiting abilities and friendships with people who love Star Wars. Her favorite activities involve matching people with their dream jobs at award-winning best companies. Lee coaches CEOs but still hasn’t been able to train her three dogs not to bark during conference calls.