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Creative Job Search Tips for Veterans

November 11, 2011

Today is Veterans Day and we would like to offer a special thank you to all the brave men and women in uniform who have served and are continuing to serve our country.

Over the last couple of years, we have had the great pleasure of working closely with several veterans who have returned from active military duty and have transitioned to civilian life. Here are some shared learning experiences and job search tips for veterans that may help as you enter the job market. We hope you will find these useful as you transition from military to civilian careers.

1)     Take Inventory & Self Assess:  Before you start your job search and start filling out job applications, take inventory of the skills and training that you have gained in the military.  Do a self-assessment wherein you identify the skills that may be transferable to a specific job.  Keep in mind that many prospective employers may have very little insight to the type of training that the military has to offer so it is important to be able to leverage and showcase your military experience, skill set and knowledge you possess. Also, try to break down your military skills where you have demonstrated competency in the areas of leadership, teamwork, problem solving, communication, technical, and taking the initiative. These are common skills that companies look for when interviewing candidates for job openings.

These are attributes that may help you to determine the best type of job for yourself and determine what type of jobs and companies you should focus or even steer away from.  Your inventory list of skills can also serve as the foundation as you begin to craft together your professional resume.

2)     Get reacquainted:  For many veterans, coming back to civilian life can be awkward.  Much of what you know or who you know revolves around the military. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Take advantage of the power of the online social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn. These are fertile ground for job seekers because of the ease of use in connecting with others with similar interest and expanding your network. You will be surprised how quickly you can identify people from your networking circles that go beyond just immediate family members. These connections could be former colleagues, teachers, mentors, friends from high school or college, club members, etc. Go through your old contact database, address books, holiday card lists. One of the veterans that we met actually used his old “black” book to identify people who might be able to help.

As you grow your professional and personal contacts, focus on people that can be valuable resources to you and may be able to offer advice, referrals or introductions.  Reach out to them and let them know that you are actively looking. Ask too if they know of others who might be able to help. You would be surprised how many people would be willing to help if you just ask.

3)     ‘Real People’ Networking:  The hazard of online social networking is that you can quickly engage with others and avoid “human touch” and minimize connecting with real people at the same time. Get out and attend events. Identify local professional associations, non-profit organizations, alumni groups, civic organizations that could benefit you. Find out when and where each of these organizations meet and join in.

Still not sure? Ask your new connections what organizations they belong to and if you could attend as their guest. This is a great way to develop a stronger relationship with your contact.  Another great resource is Meetup where you can join local communities of various interests or even create your own.  Now that you have done your skill inventory and self-assessment, you are ready to talk to others about what you are looking for and what you have done.

4)     Social Profile:  These days, more and more corporate recruiters are using more social networks sites to source, connect and find talent for their open positions.  Traditional job boards are not as effective in finding candidates and jobs as compared to today’s social recruiting tools. So establishing and creating a social profile can go a long way towards giving you an edge in your job search.  LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for you to build your professional network. However, if you are a Facebook user then there are social recruiting applications such as myJoblinx that can assist you with building your professional profile, job search and requesting referrals from the people you know and trust.  And remember, many companies report that about 40-50% of their jobs are filled through referrals, so the “who” part of your job search becomes particularly important.  A strong network can help make introductions, referrals, and find new jobs.

You have already faced and succeeded at numerous difficult challenges in military service. Job hunting is just another challenge that requires a plan. Plan your approach to finding a job and then execute. But it takes work, so be proactive.  If we can be of assistance, or if you have any questions, just let us know in the comments section.

Happy Veterans Day!

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