By the end of 2014, a projected 2.4 million Americans will have served in either Iraq or Afghanistan, and with many of these soldiers enlisting directly out of high school or college, coming home to peace may prove difficult for a generation that grew up at war.
There are many facets of a transition to conquer; however, one of the most difficult can be finding work so that you can continue to provide for yourself or your family.
It’s no doubt that being discharged is a scary thing, full of uncertainties and reservations. But more importantly are the possibilities you have through the qualities and skills you gained in the United States Armed Forces.
Build up your arsenal with these tips and take the steps toward a successful job hunt.
Use the resources available to you, specifically veteran-specific employment resources. There are many programs ready to connect you to an employer that can be easily found online.
Some of these resources include:
• VETNET is a collaboration of veteran-focused NGOs and Google
• Hire Heroes USA is dedicated to creating job opportunities specifically for transitioning veterans
• Veterans Green Jobs Employment Program matches veterans’ military experience to the skills needed by green sector employers and connects them with available jobs
• VetSuccess is an employment and transition resource provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs
These are just a few of the top assets available to you. With these, you can find information on resume writing, interviewing as well as job counseling and much more.
Prepare your resume to fit your prospective job. This means altering your resume so that potential employers find value in your abilities.
Your time in the service is your asset, but many civilian employers won’t compute a specific MOS number. When preparing your resume, be sure to include a specific job title and your civilian-translated responsibilities and duties. Once you have finished altering your resume, read it and re-read it, checking for errors and grammatical mistakes.
After you alter and edit, have close friends or family members look at it before you start distributing it to employers. Generally, a resume is the first impression you have on a hiring manager, making competence and precision vital to your success.
And never forget that the skills you learned in the service give you the great ability to market yourself as an asset. A few major competencies include:
• Commitment to getting things done
• Integrity and trustworthiness
• Efficient worker
• Performing under pressure
• The ability to succeed in the face of adversity
• Leadership and teamwork
Know the company you want a job with. It’s amazing how many people fail to conduct basic research on the organization where they desire to spend a large part of their day.
From a hiring manager’s perspective, it is inexcusable to walk into an interview without basic knowledge of the company, the company’s primary product or service, who they serve and a general idea or questions on how they have achieved success.
When you receive the call for an interview, research the position you applied for and find out more about the company’s goals and how you can enhance them, making sure you aren’t caught off guard by any questions.
Dress for the interview — not for the military. You should wear a professional, well-fitting suit or professional outfit to an interview, not your BDUs. Military dress can intimidate hiring managers or even give the appearance that you are not ready to leave the service.
Additionally, the military taught you to remain clean cut and clean shaven with your uniform accurately worn down to every miniscule detail and your civilian job interview should be no different.
Clothes and appearance don’t make the man, but it helps to mold perceptions when wearing an outfit that fits the role you desire to take on.
Job hunting can be incredibly stressful. But don’t let that stress hinder you; let it drive you. Let the need to take care of yourself and your family fuel your ambition, and you will find yourself opening doors you never thought were possible.
August Nielsen is the human resources director for Veterans United Home Loans, and has been responsible for hiring over 1,000 employees in the past five years for a company recently 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+.