Job Seeking Tips for Veterans

The job market is tough for just about everyone, but veterans seem to struggle even more so with transitioning into a civilian career. However, this struggle most veterans encounter when entering the civilian job market isn’t because employers aren’t interested in hiring them. In fact, veterans have many qualities employers deeply desire in their employees including problem solving, self-motivation, team player, goal oriented, and the ability to work under pressure. One of the biggest reasons why veterans struggle to find work after their time of service is that they aren’t quite sure how to translate their experience into civilian jargon.

Job seeking tips for veteransBeing able to work with fairly foreign technology or manage a team under immense pressure are both impressive skills. But if you can’t describe those skills and achievements in terms an employer can understand, they simply won’t see you for your incredible worth. To better your chances of obtaining employment after service, consider the following to boost appeal:

Attend a Resume Workshop

Finding the words to best translate your military experience isn’t always easy. Don’t be afraid to obtain help creating the best resume possible by attending a resume workshop. Many area community colleges, community centers, and continue education centers will offer these workshops for free or at a nominal free, and they will not only show you how to word your resume, but also how to adequately format it to impress employers.

Prior to being discharged, the military should also provide you with an opportunity to attend a resume building workshop as part of your transition. If so, definitely take the opportunity to attend.

Practice Interviews

Getting your work experience and skills to look appealing on paper is half the battle when it comes to securing employment. In order to fully impress employers, you need to be able to be able to speak clearly about your skills and experience while also maintaining a professional demeanor.

Although most military members are used to being respectful to superiors, using “yes, sirs” or “no, ma’ams” during an interview can be off putting. Civilian employers aren’t used to such titles, have very little room in the business world, and only add to military personal stereotypes.

To practice fully explaining your skills and experience without the use of military jargon, attend practice interviews offered by local career centers and community colleges. If you are struggling with finding a place for practice interviews, at the very least have a civilian friend or family member formally interview you. If nothing else, looking on a few helpful job sites that offer interview tips are a great place to start. The practice, in any way you can get it, will help you speak more naturally and in a clear and concise fashion that will be more likely to impress employers.

Use Available Resources

Trying to weed through the dozens of career sites can be overwhelming and can quickly deter any job-seeker. To make finding the right career easier for you, look at the available job resources for military personnel exclusively. Seeking out a Veterans Employment Representative at the American Job Center and visiting the employment resources of the National Service Directory are great places to start, and there are also job search sites exclusive to veterans and the employers that wish to employ them.

Before you begin your job search, also be sure to deeply consider your short and long-term career goals. While everyone has to take a job simply for a paycheck on occasion, you don’t want to find yourself straying so far from your career goals that getting back on track seems impossible. If you find that your career goals will require additional knowledge, seek additional education or training which can often be provided by Veterans Affairs.

Your time of service doesn’t have to be limiting when it comes to finding gainful civilian employment. In fact, it should be empowering. Service members have excellent qualities that employers desire in their employees, veterans simply need to learn how to demonstrate those qualities in civilian terms. Take the time to learn the ins and outs of resume building and the art of the interview. You will have a better chance of success at securing a career which will make transitioning from military service to civilian life much easier.

August Nielson is the Human Resources Manager for Veterans United Home Loans, who is responsible for hiring over 1,000 employees in the past five years for a company named the #1 job creator nationally in the financial industry by Inc. Magazine as well as making the Great Place to Work top 25. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Google+.

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Date published: June 11, 2013.

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Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of this site. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is currently serving in the IL Air National Guard. He also writes about money management, small business, and career topics at Cash Money Life. You can also see his profile on Google.


  1. says

    You could also have some of the GS or civilian contractors in the office take a look at your resume. Most people have a hard time translating military experience into something a civilian would understand.

  2. Anton Ivanov says

    When separating from the Navy, I also found the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) class to be very useful. Many sort of breeze through it, but they give you lots of free career books and worksheets. You can walk out of there with a full resume, reference list and cover letters.

    • says

      The Transition Assistance Program was helpful for me when I separated from the military, but it was more or less a crash course and only covered things at a very high level. I think most people need to spend much more time on their own learning the ins and outs of writing resumes, networking, interviewing, etc. There just isn’t enough time to learn everything in a couple days!

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