Veteran jobs are a different ball game from most job hunts. Finding civilian jobs for veterans doesnt have to be hard, but you have to know what you're doing. It can be easy to underestimate what transitioning from military to civilian jobs is actually like.
Veterans.Jobs understands this, and has collected some of the best common advice about landing veteran jobs. With a little research and flexibility, you can be well on your way to finding the best jobs for veterans.
There are many lists of companies hiring veterans and veteran headhunters. This article is instead about how to get your head in the game, what to expect, and where to start. Happy veteran jobs hunting!
One of the most common refrains from ex-military civilians is that they underestimated the transition. There can be a lot of compromises in veteran jobs. From holding out months for the right fit, to being hired under their pay- or skill-level. The expenses and bookkeeping that come with it can also be overwhelming. You're suddenly faced with housing costs, utilities, new taxes, insurance, and even figuring out your benefits.
There's also the assumption that your military experience will automatically put you at an advantage over civilians. Between veteran employment programs and practical skills, on paper, veterans should have the upper hand. But in reality, civilians have spent years in the civilian job sector, growing their own skills and learning the culture. It's safer to assume that, as a veteran, you have some catching up to do.
Thankfully, there are great resources for handling this transition. This includes beyond just the job search. The Transition Assistance Program is often recommended, and The Military Wallet can help you keep track of the numbers. www.va.gov and www.vets.gov also have useful veterans employment services.
It can feel overwhelming. Remember: You aren't the first person who's gone through this, and you certainly won't be the last. There are a lot of people and organizations that want you to succeed. Just be patient with the job market and yourself.
This may be the most important step to finding veteran jobs. The first part of this includes figuring out what you might like to do. What work in the military did you find rewarding? What part of your work did you excel at? These questions help you narrow down what civilian jobs for veterans work best for you.
This may mean continuing your education or training. While there are jobs for military veterans without degrees, you can open more doors with the right certifications. Spending time without a solid career is daunting, but chasing your dreams in a sustainable way can be a very rewarding process. And there are educational benefits from the military that can make thijs process easier.
It's also important to consider what skills transfer from military to civilian jobs. Think generally. Experience training can mean you have leadership and presentation skills. Any record- or bookkeeping is directly related to organization and personal responsibility. Knowing yourself is half the battle.
And if you don't know exactly what you want? That's fine. But even knowing what you don't want can help you narrow down options. As the military has probably taught you, specialists are appreciated. In the civilian world, what exactly makes you a specialist?
This is an underestimated but crucial part of transitioning. Civilians will understand less military jargon than you assume. This won't just lead to miscommunication, it will frustrate civilians. It will also make the gap in personal experience between veterans and civilians more obvious. This is the last thing you want to do!
The first and most general advice is to not use shorthand or keywords. This is especially true on your resume, emails, or any written communications. Whether it's an acronym or a common term, use its definition in its place. FOB and fifteen-hundred hours may be common knowledge in the military, but a potential employer may not know what either means.
"Fifteen-hundred hours" brings us to some specific tweaks. Use civilian time from now on: A.M. and P.M. only. And don't expect to use sir or ma'am in any setting. Most businesses operate on a first-name basis, even with bosses, or at least Mr./Mrs. If you're unsure, you can always ask.
If you "slip up" in conversation, it's not the end of the world. These are things you want to get down on your official documents, though. Remember, your accomplishments won't mean much to recruiters if they don't know what you're describing. Worry about that before you worry about purging any jargon from your system.
Now that we've covered how to speak, you need to know what to say. Veteran jobs and all other jobs all tend to look for the same skills and buzzwords. Military service is a great way to back those claims up.
Adaptability, especially in stressful situations, is a great thing to bring up. This can also be spun into creative problem-solving and flexibility. Then, there's communication, which veterans have been doing clearly and with discipline. This also plays into professionalism. Precision, execution, and responsibility all go hand-in-hand. And last but not least, all your time working closely with or leading others is great to bring up. In fact, any veteran-specific experience that civilians may not have should be part of your pitch.
While the above is important, you also want to specify your strengths. You need to show you know how to apply all of these skills, or at least how you'd like to. Make it easier for recruiters. Know what field or specific work you'd like to do, and spin your skills around that.
This is a great way to work in your accomplishments, too. Whatever you did above and beyond in the military is a solid example of what you can do for a new company. If you improved efficiency, explain how you excel in the area you improved efficiency for. Or if you have experience transporting food or keeping track of medicine, look into restaurant or healthcare operations. If you conducted a lot of training, pitch yourself on running courses, or H.R., or management-- pick ONE and focus on it.
This is a crucial part of the veteran jobs search. Reaching out to other veterans who have transitioned can be a big help. But this isn't the military; it won't be all brass tacks. Don't lead with pragmatic, direct questions about what they can offer you. Instead, let them do the talking. Ask about their transition, and for advice. Close, don't open, with questions about opportunities. Most of connecting people is done after the networking, via emails and such.
Then there's the matter of "selling yourself." Civilians are much more comfortable with the vague and shades of gray, not the hard truths and absolutes of military life. It's a subtlety veterans sometimes interpret as dishonest. Rather, think of it as "implied"-- that distinction will help you better understand the civilian world.
Don't think of this self-promotion as lying; you're not a used-car salesman. Instead, think like a negotiator with a clear goal. You know your pitch-- yourself-- is solid. So rather than humble underselling or bombastic overselling, come to understand the product that you are and what sets you apart. Whether you've argued for promotions, plans, or pay, there's a golden rule for any sale. There are a lot of good options: Why is this the best solution? Why are you a solid fit?
Luckily, being proud of your veteran status is a major component of this. Learn how to speak about your experiences in ways civilians understand. Don't act like your service makes you better than civilians. Instead, speak like your service has given you unique skills. A lot of selling yourself comes down to this. You aren't the best candidate in the universe, but you're uniquely qualified for this position. That's a good way to approach any veteran jobs you may be interested in.
All of this advice culminates in one sheet of paper: Your resume. Whether you're looking for jobs for disabled veterans, veteran government jobs, veteran jobs overseas, or anything else, your resume is going to be your ticket in. You need to understand what goes into landing veteran jobs.
Transitioning has taught you that you're coming at civilian work from the outside. Keep that in mind as you go forward: Be open to a world you aren't fully comfortable with yet. Learning yourself has given you direction. Having a clear idea of who you are and what work you want is crucial in designing your resume. Adjusting your language has bridged the gap between yourself and civilians. Remember to spell things out and be professional.
Spinning and specifying your strengths has given you the information that fills in your resume. Explain your work and the general skills it has taught you. Site specific accomplishments and relate them to the work you wish to do. Apply your general skills to specific goals and jobs.
Networking and selling yourself, finally, has clued you in to the subtleties of a veteran jobs search. Include your connections as references when possible. As you write, have a good sense of what makes you unusual and what you have to offer. Get the essential skills down, but also bring up the ones unique to you. You don't have to be a golden puzzle piece to be the one that fits best.
And in the end, be open to suggestions and criticism. Finding civilian jobs for veterans will still take work. Run your resume by friends, those you have networked with, and even veteran resources. Try to understand why their suggestions work. This may take some time, but leads to results.
Finding the best jobs for veterans can be a daunting task. Even with all of the above advice and direction, it's still going to take work.
Luckily, the .Jobs websites have nuts-and-bolts advice that can put you well on your way to finding and landing civilian jobs for veterans. Learning how to navigate interviews, answer the tough questions, and even present yourself have all been covered. This even includes how to dress, as civilian jobs have their own expectations. Resume building is also difficult for everyone, but there is great common advice to follow.
You may be new to using social media in a job hunt, too. Not to fear-- social media etiquette is easy to learn. These social media skills will definitely help with looking for work and networking near you. Coming from the military, you may also find nonprofit work very rewarding.
No matter how you go about it, landing veteran jobs is going to take effort and time. Luckily, you're never alone. There are plenty of resources available to you, and a lot of good advice. Everyone wants you to succeed and is here to help. On top of that, you have all of the veterans who came before you. And you have Veterans.Jobs to help you find (and land!) these positions.
It's daunting, but you were in the military; this is nothing you can't handle. So get out there and start pursuing those veteran jobs!
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