The job market is tough for just about everyone, but veterans seem to struggle more with transitioning into a civilian career. This struggle 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.
Being 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 won’t see you for your 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 continuing education centers will offer these workshops for free or at a nominal fee, and they will not only show you how to word your resume but also how to adequately format it to impress employers.
Before 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.
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 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 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 at a few helpful job sites offering 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, spouses included. 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 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.