I’m a Qualified Veteran, Why Can’t I Find a Job?

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I’ve been using LinkedIn a lot more frequently lately. It’s a great place to connect with people, offer advice, and ask for assistance if you need it. If you are on LInkedIn, I recommend joining some of the many veterans groups on there, which offer a lot of great support and advice for finding a…

I’ve been using LinkedIn a lot more frequently lately. It’s a great place to connect with people, offer advice, and ask for assistance if you need it. If you are on LInkedIn, I recommend joining some of the many veterans groups on there, which offer a lot of great support and advice for finding a job. I was scanning through one of the veterans groups last week and I read a question from a veteran and was looking for a job, but hasn’t been able to find anything. Here is his question:

Why am I having such a hard time finding a job in San Diego? I have my degree lots of certifications to go along with my military experience. What am I doing wrong; any advice?

Here are a few general tips that I gave in response (this version is expanded over the response I gave in the thread).

why can't I find a job?
Are you a qualified veteran? Use these tips to find a job.

You have to know where to look for work

The job market is tough right now, but not impossible. One of the most important things to know is that most jobs aren’t listed publicly. They are part of the “hidden job market” which means they simply aren’t advertised when they become open – they are typically filled internally, through referrals from current employees, or through headhunters. Why? Because most jobs posted publicly receive anywhere from 50-100 (or more) applications. Hiring managers use these three methods to screen potential employees. This saves employers time and money.

Networking is essential for finding a job in today’s economy

The best way to find a job in the current economy is through your professional network or through a recruiter. Start by contacting someone in your professional network and ask them to peer review your resume. This will give you a good idea of where your resume can be improved. They may also let you know about potential job openings at their employer if there are any. If most of your peers are still in the military then consider joining some professional organizations or clubs, doing volunteer work at your church or with a charity, or finding other ways you can expand your network and show other people your skills.

You may also benefit by reaching out to a staffing agency or head hunter. Some of the jobs they offer are only temporary positions, but they are still worth taking as it helps put money in your pocket and keeps your skills fresh. You may find that one of these positions lead to a full time job, or they may give you the opportunity to learn new skills or gain additional experience which will make you more likely to be hired into a full-time job.

Seek out positions where you can use your military skills

Your military experience is incredibly valuable, especially for government agencies and contractors who work with the government. Many people have the skills you have, but don’t speak the “same language” the military speaks. That was the selling point I used when I landed my first post-military job. It’s often easier to teach vets specific skills than it is to teach non-veterans how the military operates.

A security clearance can also be a very valuable tool in helping you get a job. There are even career sites which specialize in posting openings for people with a various levels of security clearances. If you have a security clearance, try to keep it active long enough to use it at your next job. You may also be able to reactivate an expired security clearance in less time than it takes for someone to get one from scratch – which is an expensive and time consuming process for employers. This gives you a leg up over someone who doesn’t have a security clearance.

Review your resume and LinkedIn profile

It is essential to take care when crafting your first post-military resume. Pay special attention to translating your military skills into civilian terms so that a layman can understand what you bring to the table. When writing a resume, it’s also essential to create a unique resume for each job application and include specific skills and keywords from the job description to ensure it is selected by the automatic filters many companies use to screen resumes.

Take some time to go through your LinkedIn profile and any other digital profiles or resumes you may find ways to improve your digital profiles to make them more attractive to employers. You may find some ways to improve them.

Look into government employment and programs

There are many government programs for veterans, including the new Veterans Job Corps, which will create public service jobs for veterans. Other veterans career programs include My Next Move for Veterans, the Veterans Job Bank, and the Veterans Gold Card. You may also consider a job with the civil service or a state agency, many of which give a veterans preference for veterans with certain classifications, such as those who served in a war zone or those with a disability rating.

Consider further education

If you still have education benefits available to you, then consider going back to school on a full or part time basis. The GI Bill can help you obtain a degree or other certification which can help you enhance your employability. If you are unemployed and meet the requirements, you may also be eligible for the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which gives GI Bill benefits to unemployed vets.

I hope these tips help.

Do you have any additional tips?

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of The Military Wallet. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

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  1. Derek J Tougas says

    I’m having a terrible time finding a job. I did 12 years in the Air Force as a security forces member. I joined LinkedIn. I applied for jobs every day I never get any callbacks I have a clean record never been arrested I think I have one speeding ticket. It’s so hard to find a decent job.

  2. Brandon Koay says

    I know this article is old, but I’m in the same boat. It’s not like we all haven’t tried to network through different social media (Linkedin, USAjobs, etc.). I’m a senior military officer with 14 years service and couldn’t find a decent job. It got to the point even the basic employment are not even offered as you are overqualified and employers fear you are only here temporary or as a back log. The only way (in my opinion) is you have to know someone within the agency that can bring you in. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have or how many degrees you have. Though I do appreciate your article.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Brandon, Thank you for your comment. There are many factors at play – much more than can be covered in a single article. Your specific skill set, the economy, where you are trying to find work, and other factors play important roles.

      It took me six months to find my first post-military job. But I was transitioning from a blue-collar job in the enlisted force into a white-collar job in the civilian world. But my military experience played a huge role in landing the job. My next job was an easy transition, as I saw it advertised online, sent in a resume, and did a quick interview. I also knew someone at that company, which was a tremendous help in getting my resume routed to the hiring manager.

      Finding a job after leaving the military can be difficult. But don’t sell yourself short or get (too) discouraged. You bring an immense amount of skills to the table, and you will find an employer that recognizes your skills.

      Another possibility could be joining the Guard or Reserves, which may open doors to employment. There are Technician jobs, civil service jobs, and you will certainly grow your professional network.

      I wish you the best with your transition, and thank you for your service!

  3. Lucas Hood says

    I am a 80% disabled vet and have been out of work for 2 years. I had a online part time job for about a year but was unreliable
    . I have been going to school for welding and game developer to learn some extra skills. I have filled out so many job applications and I cant even get a job as a damn dishwasher.

  4. Jim says

    This information is useless, and more than likely something the person has already tried or just knows through common sense. When people make articles like this, I wonder if they’ve ever been unemployed before, but I know for certain that they haven’t been unemployed a day since the economy tanked because their words prove being oblivious to the reality of the current job market.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Jim, I was unemployed for six months after I separated from the military, so yes, I understand what it is like to be unemployed. My goal with this site and this article, is to offer support to all veterans and help them however I can. But no single article on any site can guarantee someone a job. There are many internal and external factors which come into play. As such, it is impossible to write a one-size-fits-all article that covers all situations, career fields, job markets, experience levels, and other factors which heavily play into one’s ability to find a job.

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