Veterans transitioning back to civilian life need a lot of support in their first few months of job-hunting. If you’re planning to find a new job, it’s not going to be easy – but you absolutely stand a chance at facing this challenge.
Here are a few tips to help you in transitioning to the civilian job market and make the most from your background and strengths.
Identify military-friendly employers
It’s safe to say that all operating companies and organizations may hire veterans, but during your search you might notice that some of them offer programs which specifically address former military personnel. With a bit of search online you’ll be able to find lists of military-friendly employers, which should become your starting point in job hunting, helping you to narrow down your job search.
Check resources for veterans
You’ll find interesting employment opportunities on veteran-specific job boards such as Military Friendly. Another place to consider when looking for employment are military job fairs. There exist online resources where you can research job fairs based on location – attending virtual job fairs will help you to save time and money.
Remember that entering the non-military job market, you need to adjust to a new language and culture. One of the best resources to help you get started are business portals like Fast Company. These websites and magazines will give you an insight into the culture of American business, on which you’ll build your new non-military professional identity.
Translate your military role to the civilian job market
One of the first challenges you’ll face is the inability to relate military job titles to their closest civilian equivalents. Matching your veteran skillset to a a civilian job that suits you might at first seem very complicated. Especially if your service rendered you unfamiliar with current job market trends. But just try to search the web for pointers – there are many online tools which include search engines where you can filter civilian jobs using your military job title or code.
Show employers why hiring a veteran is worth it
Expect employers to have absolutely no idea about military service. This is your chance to show them that veterans boast skills which are critical to business development. Start with determination – give examples from your military career which show that for you, giving up is simply not an option.
Your strength are leadership skills as well, which are often associated with the military profession. Companies are interested in veterans because they boost the output and productivity of their teams. Military service teaches you to take charge and be proactive – and how many candidates can say the same about their career paths? Make the most from this highly sought-after attribute.
Another key capacity is teamwork – if you’re a former officer, you know how to keep team morale and motivation. You also know how to be a team player. Emphasize your adaptability as well – you’re full of stories of how a sudden change required you to stay on your feet and make decisions quickly. Show that you can process change efficiently and maintain a project’s momentum by instantly finding an effective solution. This trait is again highly valued by civilian employers.
Rewrite your resume
How to translate your resume so it fits the new civilian job market and emphasizes transferable military skills ranging from leadership and communication to problem solving? Never use acronyms and avoid military details – create a resume which is focused on core competencies easily understood by hiring managers in the civilian job market.
Before applying, read each job posting carefully to determine what are the skills this potential employer is looking for. You’ll use all this work during your interview for an in-depth conversation about the strengths you gained through military service and how they relate to the requirements of the position.
Emphasize your achievements
During a job interview, your military experience will help you to stand out and be easily remembered by hiring managers. That’s why you should make the most from your military career – show recruiters what it taught you and what were your major achievements.
It can be critical thinking and problem solving skills, which when paired up with your military experience are clearly validated. This is not something that many candidates can actually show. From leadership skills and strategic thinking to problem solving and teamwork skills, your military career will act as proof to those claims, making you a far more interesting candidate.
Establish an objective
It’s not easy to effectively market yourself in civilian job market without having a clearly defined goal. Service people have different backgrounds, so they often fall into the trap of writing a resume that is too generic to really work. Research various civilian occupations and develop your strategy for following your new career path. Target your resume to each position you apply to – use keywords which appear in job postings and highlight those skills that recruiters value most.
Don’t forget that as a veteran, you might need to refresh your understanding of national and state regulations, which can sometimes limit your civilian job opportunities. Before taking a job in the civilian market which is similar to your military job, some states will require you to undergo additional retraining.
Jobs in specialist fields like medicine or information technology (IT) might require specific qualifications and certifications. But many states now allow veterans to bypass those if they can prove that they’ve received appropriate military training. Being aware of these regulations will act your advantage – you need to know how they might affect your potential for civilian employment.
Test your resume
Don’t consider developing a resume a one time thing. In the civilian job market, this is an ongoing process. Make your resume public by creating a profile on LinkedIn where you can easily update it and be visible to many employers who scour this social network for new talents. It’s a good idea to ask friends from the sector you’re aiming for to have a look at your resume and modify it until it starts to generate a successful response from employers.
Transitioning from the military to civilian job market can be challenging, but isn’t that something you’re well-equipped to deal with? It will be tough, but set your eyes on the prize and methodically push forward to achieving your goal. Your civilian career is right at your fingertips, if you dare to take this effort and reach for it.
About the author
Carol Williams works as a HR specialist at Navel Oranges – fruit shippers from Florida. She is a passionate writer revolving around the issues of Human Resources.