7 Job Search Strategies for Veterans

Arnold Freeman writes about career development, tax benefits, and personal finance.

According to The Washington Post, the unemployment rate for recent veterans stood at around 10% in late 2013, significantly higher than that of the general public. If you’re a veteran, that number could very well make you look at your job search in a whole new light. Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities available for the brave men and women who serve – you just have to know how to find them. Take a look at seven strategies for landing the job you want as quickly as possible.

  1. Target Your Search
    A mass mailing of generic resumes and cover letters is never the best way to go. While general inquiries might get a few responses, quality always trumps quantity with any job search. Pare down your list to 10 companies you truly want to work for and target your efforts on them. Create an individualized resume and cover letter for each, and focus on what your unique skill set brings to the table.
  2. Limit the Personal Anecdotes
    Hiring managers probably don’t want to hear about your wartime experiences or other personal details that aren’t directly relevant to the business world. While it’s always important to show personality, don’t go overboard with long descriptive stories unless you’re specifically asked. When speaking of your military experience, discuss instances where your leadership skills enabled projects to succeed.
  3. Translate Your Accomplishments for the Civilian Business World
    Translate your military accomplishments to the professional realm. For example, instead of referring to your “squadron,” say “team.” If you were a platoon medic, describe it in civilian terms by saying you worked in “military healthcare.” Also, if you held a position of authority, make sure you discuss your leadership and mentoring experience.
  4. Get Your Needed Documents?
    Make sure you have your DD214 and DD2586 documents handy and bring them to all interviews as proof of service. There’s always a chance the interviewer will ask for it before your official hire or start date.
  5. Improve Your Professional Network?
    If you’re not already on LinkedIn, go ahead and set up a profile. Follow the companies you want to work for and, where appropriate, establish connections with a few employees of each organization. LinkedIn allows users to view “shared connections,” so you can easily see if a contact of yours can offer an introduction.

Also, don’t be afraid to take your networking into the real world. The site Meetup may offer meetings for veterans in your area, or for the industry to which you’re applying. Remember, the more people who know you’re looking for work, the easier and more successful your job search can be.

  1. Leave Acronyms Off Resume
    Remember that for the most part civilians don’t understand military acronyms. Rather than using these abbreviations in speech during an interview or written out on a resume, describe everything in its entirety. This may feel a little tiresome at times, but very few human resources managers understand what BAIM (baseline advanced industrial management), or TA/CE (technical analysis/cost estimate) really means. Remember that the more descriptive you can be on your resume, the more impressive your skill set sounds and the quicker you likely get hired.
  2. Dress Professionally But Not in Uniform?
    You might be tempted to show up for an interview in full uniform. While that could impress certain hiring managers, it may not be appropriate for some companies. Remember, you’re applying for a job in the civilian world. After reading your resume, the interviewer already knows you served in the military, so a conservative business suit and tie should suffice. If you feel like showing your patriotism or giving a nod to your years in service, a lapel or tie pin would be the perfect solution.

Final Thoughts
Remember, there are a variety of tax benefits for employers who hire veterans. Companies have a vested interest in having you join their team. Even more valuable than that, however, is your leadership experience and ability to perform under pressure. Let them know that even though you may not have spent years in the boardroom, your work ethic and ability to motivate others is bar none.

How is your job search coming along as a veteran?