In addition to facing high unemployment, the skills and experience veterans gain in the military may not match the job openings available. If you're a returning vet, set yourself up for success by heeding the following tips.
Create a job search plan. Assess your interest and capabilities, and determine what type of work you would like to do. Make a list of companies in your local area that might hire someone with your background, and decide for which employers you want to work.
Exploit your experience. Tailor your resume to mirror the position description, and start applying for jobs. Your resume should provide hiring managers with a clear picture of how the capabilities and accomplishments you developed in the military relate to the job. Emphasize the experience you have gained in teamwork, leadership, resourcefulness, and other skills that are strengthened through military service.
Build your network before you return home. Use LinkedIn, and begin connecting with former veterans who have vocational backgrounds and interests similar to yours. Exchange job-hunting information with them, and expand your list of potential employers.
Use your network to leverage your brand. Contact veterans employed in your community for guidance in your career transition. Meet with them in person, when feasible, to facilitate the building of trust and the exchange of information.
Ask for referrals. As you network with people, ask if they know anyone else who can assist in your job search or who might hire someone with your background.
Invest in your future. Now may be the perfect time to go back to school. The G.I. Bill will pay for tuition and fees for up to 36 months, as long as the costs do not exceed what you would pay for an undergraduate education at the most expensive public, in-state college. Upon graduation, your new degree coupled with military experience will help you to stand out relative to other job candidates.
Take advantage of transition programs. Many of these groups offer job-search training such as information about how to market yourself and network using social media. Attend local career fairs, visit associations that cater to veterans, and use new contacts to bolster your network.
The transition from military to civilian life can be challenging, especially in a sour economy. Build your confidence and increase your success by developing a plan, building and exploiting your network, using the many programs available, and—most of all—persevering.