Soldiers who are separating from the military are armed with a diverse set of skills and qualities that are highly desirable in the civilian workforce. A strong work ethic, leadership ability, technical expertise, and dedication to teamwork are just a few of the reasons why veterans make great assets to any company. But making the transition to civilian employment is not always easy. Military jobs and the culture of military life are so different from civilian society that sometimes employers have difficulty seeing how a soldier’s military experience could benefit their business.
If you are transitioning to civilian life, here are five tips that can help you prepare for your job hunt, find opportunities, highlight your abilities, and lead you to post-military job search success.
5 Tips for your Post-Military Job Search
Connecting with others is one of the best strategies for finding out about job opportunities. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for employment. Join online networks and professional associations or attend in-person networking events. You never know who might be aware of available positions. Connecting with former servicemembers who are already employed is also beneficial since they have been in your shoes and know what you have to offer. The Veteran Career Network is a free online networking resource that gives Military.com members the opportunity to connect with veterans working in specific industries, companies, and locations.
- Tap into Resources
There are many resources available that focus on empowering veterans and helping them find jobs. As a starting point, visit the following websites for an abundance of information and guidance:
- The Veterans Employment Center
- The American Legion Veteran Employment Center
- Hire Our Heroes
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
- Create a Great Resume…
Once you discover a job opportunity, you have to act on it right away and impress your potential employer with a great resume. But the military culture is unique and uses jargon, acronyms, and job titles that will be unfamiliar to most civilians. To present yourself as a strong candidate, your resume must translate your extensive military experience, skills and training into civilian language.
To start writing your resume, first obtain your Verification of Military Experience and Training Document which includes a list of your military training history and experience. The leadership, technical, and interpersonal skills you may have are marketable assets that would be welcome by many employers. To present these skills in terms that hiring managers will understand, use the Military.com Skills Translator. This easy online tool matches your military job title with equivalent civilian skills and available job opportunities around the country.
- …and a Great Cover Letter
Resumes should be accompanied by a customized cover letter which expresses your interest in a specific position, gives a little background on your achievements, and focuses on how your skills match the job requirements. Read this Clark College guide for additional cover letter writing tips for veterans and a sample letter.
- Practice Interviewing
If an employer views you as a potential job candidate, you’ll be called in for an interview. Being a little nervous is completely normal, but proper preparation can help the interview process go smoothly. Here are some tips:
- Dress neat and professionally.
- Bring extra copies of your resume as well as the contact information for any references.
- Do as much research as you can about the company and the position for which you are applying.
- Avoid using military jargon such as reference to ranks and military acronyms. Use civilian “corporate speak.”
- Talk about your skills, certifications, and experience and how you can be an asset to the company. Highlight what you may have that other candidates may not.
- Emphasize the “soft skills” you acquired in the military such as being able to be a leader, work in a team, perform under pressure, and make quick decisions.
- Prepare for the interview by practicing answers to questions like:
- Why should I hire you?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- How do you manage conflict?
- What are your salary expectations?
Visit Military.com and CivilianJobs.com for more sample interview questions and tips on how to answer them.
You’ve served America and now you’re ready for Corporate America. Show employers how much you have to offer with these easy tips. Good luck in your job search!