If you’re joining the civilian workforce after military service, you may have a number of unique advantages thanks to your experience. The key is translating your experience into a civilian context and leveraging your skills and character to stand out. Here are five tips to help you shine in your job hunt.
According to Payscale, between 70-85% of jobs are filled through networking. Up to 80% of jobs are never even listed! Building a robust, wide-ranging group of contacts is one of the most effective ways to obtain a job.
As a veteran, stay in contact with the people you served with, and you will instantly have a solid network. Ask family members, friends, and other veterans to help you contact decision-makers in your field. Make sure your LinkedIn is polished, and your other public social media accounts are relatively professional. Attend local networking events in your area, and connect with experts in your desired field.
As you network, it’s vital to build genuine, mutually beneficial relationship. Offer advice or help when possible, and don’t make conversations all about you and your job search. Building a network takes time, but it’s one of the most effective ways to enhance your job search.
2. Refine Your Resume
Your resume is generally your first impression with a potential employer, and you need to make it stand out. According to an eye-tracking study from Ladders, recruiters only looks at an average resume for 7.4 seconds, so your resume needs to grab their attention and earn a second look.
Your resume doesn’t need gimics or flashy designs to deserve that second look. Design a simple, professional resume that emphasizes your expertise, skills, certifications or degrees, and work experience. Try and keep it to one page, and showcase your professional experience and achievements, including your military service. If possible, tailor your resume to each company with specific keywords and terminology. Learn more tips for building a great resume from Time and Military.com.
Look through your resume and identify anything related to the military. If those entries use military jargon and terminology, civilian recruiters might not understand the full implications of your experience. Translate your skills and knowledge into a civilian context, and be sure to use strong action verbs. If possible, showcase how your actions delivered specific results (such as an increase in productivity or a decrease in costs) and use hard data and numbers to back that up.
3. Look in the Right Place
Many companies make a point of hiring veterans, as they recognize their unique qualities of discipline, hard work, loyalty, and problem solving. Many government jobs have veterans’ preference, giving veterans priority over other applicants.
According to Glassdoor.com, numerous major corporations make major efforts to hire and assist veterans, including big names such as Boeing or PayPal.
4. Showcase Your Character
Even if you didn’t receive specific, transferable technical skills in the military, your service proves certain values and qualities that companies look for. As a veteran, you’ve developed numerous “soft skills,” skills that can’t really be taught in a classroom and that transfer across jobs and career fields. You’ve learned values such as discipline, punctuality, endurance, and the ability to follow orders. You may also have great skills in project management or leadership.
Emphasize these qualities as you search for a job. Tell about specific experiences where these soft skills brought you success, especially if you can back up those stories with specific data and numbers.
5. Get Trained and Certified
Many modern companies require a bachelor’s degree or career training for positions, especially lucrative fields such as technology. As a veteran, you have a big advantage in this field, as you can use your GI Bill® benefits to obtain the training you need to succeed.
If you already have credentials from the military, you might still need to take an exam or recertification course to prove your knowledge in a civilian context.
College and career training both have their pros and cons, but in general, a good career training program can prepare and qualify you for employment more quickly. In college, you’ll spend valuable time on courses that might not matter for your career, while a focused training program will cut out the fluff. A number of lucrative IT jobs are perfect for veterans, and you can easily excel at these careers with the right training and certification.
If you’re ready to stand out in the job search with training and certification, New Horizons Career Development Solutions is here for you. We have a track record of training veterans and helping them find employment, and we work closely with funding sources such as the GI Bill® to help you pay for your training. Our expert advisers can help you develop a solid game-plan, our instructors bring unique insights and knowledge from years on the job, and we offer job placement assistance so you don’t just leave with a certificate, you leave with a career. Check out this list of tips from the VA, and learn more about some of the top skills that companies want from a modern employee, and take your next step to career success.