Veterans face unique challenges when searching for civilian jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans experience higher than average unemployment rates. Despite this, there are steps you can take to help you succeed in your job search.
Make a Plan
The first step is exploring the resources that are available to you and forming a strategy. Don’t wait until after you leave the service; instead, start thinking about the transition as early as possible. Psychologist Katharine Brooks recommends assessing your current situation and then looking at where you want to go and what you need to do to get there. You should also make a frank assessment of any injuries or physical limitations that will impact your job search.
Make a list of your skills, the work that you’d like to do, and potential employers to contact. Check out the Military to Civilian Occupation Translator, which “helps service members match military skills and experience to civilian occupations.”
Update Your Resume
Talking about your service in civilian terms can be tough. Staffing firm Robert Half recommends skipping “the acronyms and military details, and creat[ing] a resume that focuses on core competencies that hiring managers in the civilian job market can easily understand.”
Whenever you make changes to your resume, it’s important to proofread. Ask a friend to look over it or take advantage of Grammarly’s online proofreading tool. Presenting an error-free resume is an essential part of making a good impression.
Networking is one of the most essential activities for any job seeker. First, let everyone in your social network know the type of work you’re looking for. Consider attending trade shows, job fairs, and other networking events — just make sure you have a stack of personal business cards in hand when you go. You can get low-cost cards from companies like Vistaprint and Overnight Prints, or design and print your own using a template.
There are networking opportunities specifically for veterans, too. Military.com, for example, hosts the Veteran Career Network online. Check with your local V.A. office or with other veterans you know to find opportunities in your area.
Train New Skills
While you’re searching for employment, consider refreshing your skills or developing new ones. The Bureau of Veterans Affairs has “vocational rehabilitation and employment services to help with job training, employment accommodations, resume development, and job seeking skills coaching.”
Your local public library is a treasure trove of information, online training programs, and even workshops and classes. You might also explore your options for higher education using your G.I. Bill opportunity, but be wary of programs that seem to make promises that are too good to be true. No degree program can guarantee employment.
Ask for Help If You Need It
The V.A. is a good resource for ongoing assistance, but there are other organizations dedicated to connecting qualified veterans. Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide program backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help veterans find jobs.
There are an increasing number of programs like Hiring Our Heroes to help veterans re-enter the workforce, and first lady Michelle Obama is spearheading the initiative. She specifically addressed female veterans, who represent 10 percent of all vets. She encouraged them to flaunt their skills, saying “And believe me, you all have so much to show off. That’s the beauty of it — those years in the military set you apart from so many other candidates.”
As part of her program to help all veterans find meaningful employment, Obama teamed up with Coursera, an online college platform, to offer free certifications to veterans. The professional networking site LinkedIn will also offer free premium access to veterans.
We here at Grammarly would like to take this opportunity to honor the men and women who have served our country. Thank you.