Veterans often have a hard time finding jobs. It’s not that they’re not qualified; they just tend to have a hard time marketing themselves and adjusting to life among civilians once more. However, with a little research and practice, you can not only pick what job path you want to occupy, you can also increase the chance that you will succeed in looking for a career in that field as well.
Consider Your Options
Are you sure you’re finished with the military? Reenlistment bonuses can be had if you decide to stay in the Armed Forces. You should also consider using your GI Bill, since one of the biggest perks for veterans is a free education. If you don’t have any marketable skills outside of the military, or you’ve always wanted to get an education, or any number of other reasons, going to school can be a great way to get started in the career you want.
Do some soul-searching and figure out what kind of industry you want to work in. Has some hobby or interest captivated you since you were a kid? Think on what makes you tick, and look for jobs in an industry that you are interested in.
Know Your Resources
Search for jobs on veteran-specific career sites like Vetjobs.com. Investigating recruiting firms is also a great place to look because employers pay these firms to find people that would be a good match for their company. Lastly, check out the US Department of Labor. A lot of employers, including federal and local governments, advertise openings here.
Regardless of where you start, if you’re near a VA or Veteran transition office, your local branch can help get you set up with a job near your town and would be the best place to get your job hunt going.
Learn How to Build Your Resume
Creating the perfect resume can often be difficult for veterans because they are unsure of how to tailor it to their duties in service. However, with a few helpful tips, you can write up a stellar resume that will be sure to impress any employer:
· Don’t shy away from your service time, but don’t be too detailed about it. Describing your combat situations might make your interviewer squeamish if he or she is a civilian.
· Highlight your attributes, such as: your work ethic/habits, commitments, skill sets and education and training; ability to work under pressure, have an emphasis on health, takes initiative, are a natural leader, are adaptable, etc.
· Be sure to include your awards and medals for your service. And if you have any, the awards or accomplishments you achieved while not in service.
· Assume the person reading your resume is a civilian and write very simplistically about the military.
· Tailor your resume to and for each company you send it to, and write cover letters for each one as well.
· Keep an ASCII (American Standard Code for Informational Interchange- basically, plain-text format) version of your resume for online submissions. This will hold its form across all operating systems and software, so you don’t have to worry if it’s going to be a bunch of squiggles when they open it.
· ALWAYS get your resume proofread by at least two people. There will almost always be misspellings and grammatical errors that you won’t see and an employer could dismiss your application from a simple misspelling; it happens all the time.
Learning proper interviewing etiquette can be nerve-wrecking and unpredictable at times, since every employer is different. But nailing your interview is the selling factor for the job you’re hoping to get and one of the most important parts of the process. Research good interviewing etiquette or check out books at your local library for a broad overview of what to expect.
In addition, companies have now started to conduct what is called a behavioral interview, where they ask about specific situations and how you’d handle them. Write down a few hypothetical work situations and answer them thoroughly for practice so you aren’t blindsided that it’s not a traditional interview. Remember: practice makes perfect.
Whatever option you choose, make sure that you’re behind it 100%. You’ll be investing a lot of your time and energy into your pursuits, so if it’s something you’re truly interested in and passionate about, it will be that much easier to accomplish.
Chris Birk is the author of, “The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits,” and is the content director for Veterans United Home Loans. He leads his team to provide finance, education and home loan information to our over 2 million followers in the military community. Follow him on Google+.