If you're a veteran who is struggling to get hired, you are not alone. There are thousands of talented, hardworking individuals like yourself out there who are finding it tough to move from a military role to a civilian one.
Thankfully, there are some great tools and resources you can use to overcome this challenge, and make the career transition much easier. In this post, I'm going to share with you the biggest challenge we see among veterans when they're looking for a new job, and what they can do to overcome it.
As a veteran, you gained an incredible amount of both hard skills and soft skills in the military, such as patience, loyalty, teamwork, dedication, and accountability. So, why is it so difficult for veterans to get jobs?
Well, I've worked with thousands of ex-military folks, and I can tell you that a primary challenge lies in their inability to identify and clarify what they did in the military in a language that civilian HR, recruiters, and hiring managers actually understand.
Simply put, you need to know how to speak our language. And once you do that, you can create career tools like your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and answers to interview questions in a way that will get you results.
I love working with veterans inside the Work It Daily program, primarily because they're so good at it. They listen to direction, they execute the tasks, and—to put it candidly—they get jobs faster. All they need is a process, and so I am going to outline some steps that I want you to take, so that you can get hired faster:
Step 1: Translate Your Skills
Step number one is to translate your skills, and this is a biggie. One of the examples that I love to give is for someone to take their military resume, and from top to bottom, go through it and circle every word that relates to the military.
You're going to find a lot of circles there. So imagine that on the civilian side, every single one of those words means nothing to them. They don't understand it. You're suddenly going to see why—it's almost like speaking another language.
Sit down with somebody and help them translate what you did into common language. Talk about things like project management, leadership staff, training and development, operations management, and budgeting and finance. These are things that you've probably done in the military, but you just haven't figured out how to explain that in your career tools.
Once you do this, you're going to see a huge change in the reaction that people give you when you send your resume out.
Step 2: Update Your LinkedIn Profile
Step number two is to beef up that LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the number one source for recruiting, especially in any type of professional role, so you've got to make sure that your profile is keyword-optimized with those transferable skills from the first step.
When you do that, you're going to be more searchable on LinkedIn, which will put you in more recruiter search results. This means that you're going to get more messages and more phone calls. It's really important that you understand how to optimize your profile, so that you can increase the volume of people who are actually touching base with you about potential opportunities.
Recruiters love to hire veterans—they just need to be able to find you.
Step 3: Promote Your Military Service (The Right Way)
Step three is to make your military service known, while making sure it's not over the top. A lot of times people don't realize that the message they're sending is, "I was in the military, I miss the military—I am the military." This can send the wrong message to the civilian world.
For example, on LinkedIn, a lot of times we see veterans use their military photograph as their profile picture.
The problem with that is that, again, it's sending an almost rigid message, which can be one of the concerns they may have about hiring you. So now is the time to get that civilian photo—neutral backdrop, smiling face, looking approachable.
These are the subtle changes that you can make throughout your career tools so that, again, they know that you were in the military—but it doesn't scream "military."
Step 4: Ask For Help
The fourth step is to ask for help. And this can be a particularly tough one for veterans. It seems that pride gets in the way, and they feel like they're supposed to be able to do this themselves. That is not the case.
People are so grateful for the time that you served in the military that they want to return the favor. Let them help you—let them open doors, set up networking connections, and help you with your career tools.
You'll be able to pay these individuals back by showing them that you've got a great new job, and maybe you'll even be mentoring them or opening doors for them down the line. So, it's never just a situation where you're getting a handout.
This is what the professional world is all about—working in serving one another. I hope that every veteran who reads this is feeling a bit better about their ability to take control of their job search.
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