Job Search Tips for Veterans: Hang up the Uniform and Leap into the Civilian World
By: Shawna Simcik
It is not often, but in the past ten years, I’ve been approached by several distinguished military veterans looking to hang up their uniform and leap into the civilian world. Although they’ve had successful careers in the military, many of these dedicated individuals, after storming the job boards and attending job fairs, get slapped in the face with decline after decline for open positions. There is no denying that those in the recruiting business know that unless a company has made a conscious decision to “hire our military,” these individuals are more than likely overlooked because of their perceived lack of “professional,” or “business” experience or lack of diversity in their background.
This is extremely frustrating especially because our former service members, in fact, bring a wide array of skills to the workforce. They have learned to thrive in high stress situations, mastered sophisticated technologies and become experts in their fields, such as law, accounting and finance, administration, IT and marketing. Moreover, many of these women and men have developed and demonstrated soft skills critical to private businesses including leadership, discipline, adaptability and critical thinking.
On this Veteran’s Day, it’s important for me to support the people who are serving our country. So, here are five job search recommendations for a military veteran looking to accelerate their job search.
- Translate the Transferable Skills: When you write your resume, and talk to recruiters, make it easy for them to see and read the transferable skills. Don’t make them draw parallels between combat and the corporate office, because they won’t – do it for them.
- Remove the Military Jargon: This goes together with number one on this list. You must remove the military jargon from your marketing material (resume, LinkedIn, etc.). Don’t compromise your integrity and make false statements on your resume, but rather than say, “thrive in combative situations,” adjust this to read, “thrive under pressure” or “demonstrated success in highly stressful situations.” Have someone who you trust read through your resume and remove the jargon that you might be too close to even see.
- Define What You Want to Do: Research and determine what you want to do after your transition and what they call it in the civilian world. When asked, “what do you want to do”, the worst possible answer you can give is, “I don’t know” or “anything,” or worse, “I was a Satellite Vehicle Operator, so something like that.” That role doesn’t exist in a civilian business; you must define the job title. If you have no clue where to start, start by looking at colleagues with backgrounds like yours who have recently transitioned. Which industries are they in? What companies are they working for? What job titles do they have now?
- Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: Networking is critical to any job search. It is even more important for a transitioning military veteran to get outside the military and network with private businesses, industry experts and associations. Don’t just spend your time with other military colleagues. Having a powerful network is essential and can open doors for you.
- Get Connected with Military-Friendly Support: Take the time to build relationships with recruiters who specialize in supporting military such as “We Hire Heroes.” Peruse the job search sites that recognize your transferable skills such as “Feds Hire Vets” and “Hire Heroes USA.”
We’re eager to hear how you transitioned into the civilian world. The good, bad and ugly. Share your thoughts with us. Happy Veteran’s Day.