8 Tips for Succeeding in Your Post-Military Job Search

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Your career may have begun in the military, but that’s not where it will end. Now, you’re on the hunt for a civilian job that provides you with new challenges and a different sense of fulfillment.

Even though you’re ready for the next chapter, it might be a foreign experience to search for a role after years of military service. Fortunately, because of your background, you have the skills required to take on this task and succeed.

Here are eight tips for finding your next post with ease.

1. Network

As a veteran, you automatically have access to a vast network of current and former troops who can help you find your next role. On top of that, you have friends, family members, former classmates — all your contacts can become part of your job-search network.

The best thing to do as you begin your quest to obtain the perfect role, then, is to brush up on your networking skills. Whether you head to social gatherings or send an email to an old friend, make sure you’re doing it correctly.

And, once you have your job, be sure to return the favor by becoming an excellent contact for those who helped you, too — you never know when you’ll need their help again.

2. Use Veteran-Centric Resources

You’re not the only one who wants you to get hired. A wealth of organizations have made it their mission to help veterans reacclimatize to life on the home front.

Don’t be shy — check in with groups like the VA, the American Legion, and Hire Heroes USA to see how they can aid you in your search for a job. They might provide job listings, resume-creation tips or interview pointers.

3. Seek Out Vet-Friendly Employers and Industries

Fortunately, you’re not the first soldier to return to your home soil and search for a new job. Your comrades have done the same — and, not only that, but they have found certain employers and industries to be particularly well-suited to their skill sets.

For example, veterans have praised companies like Verizon, JP Morgan Chase, and Humana because they provide resources like medical insurance, retirement contributions, vacation days and pay raises.

If you can’t find a role within one of these companies, try a looser search for an industry that suits vets.

There are some obvious choices — the defense and aerospace industries, for example — but healthcare, technology, manufacturing, and insurance could be excellent fits, too.

4. Build the Perfect Résumé

Your military experience will be so valuable in helping you obtain your next job. The only problem is that many civilians won’t understand the service-centric jargon. So, it’ll be up to you to put your work history into layman’s terms so employers can see the value in your experience.

One of the best tips for translating your military experience into a resume is to choose the most transferrable skills.

For example, artillery training was undoubtedly valuable as you served, but it’s not something you’ll need in the workplace.

Instead, focus on your leadership experience, as well as behind-the-scenes training that could help you in a more traditional role.

Of course, if you’re looking for a civilian version of your military job — say, as an air traffic controller — you can add more jargon or specific bullet points that’ll prove your prowess in the role.

5. Find a Mentor

This is a tip that can help you both in your job search and once you obtain the right position. Start by approaching a person whose career trajectory you hope to emulate. Ask that person if you could go to lunch and pick their brain for tips on how to get yourself started on the same path.

Once you’re on the job, there are further benefits to having a mentor on your side. For example, if you face an unexpected or otherwise uncharted challenge in your new role, you have someone who can provide you with advice on how to handle it.

If they’re within your company, your mentor can guide you — and perhaps even recommend you for a role — when you’re ready to move up the career ladder.

6. Write the Perfect Cover Letter

This is similar to your resume, but perhaps even more critical regarding shaping your military experience to prove it applies to potential domestic jobs, too. The best way to do this is to look at the job description. What skills are they looking for in a person to fill that position? What past experiences?

Once you’ve pinpointed the bullet points you possess — although they may not be as apparent on paper — write your letter. Explain how you fit the bill and how your experience would translate.

Every employer will value your military career, of course, but your cover letter gives you the chance to flesh out how it’ll serve you back on home soil. Take advantage of this resource.

7. Don’t Forget the U.S. Government

We’ve mentioned the fact that you should seek out job search help, as well as work with employers known to understand and welcome former servicemen and women into their ranks.

But we would be remiss to ignore the fact that no organization will better understand your history and put it to good use than the government that trained you and sent you overseas.

There are countless opportunities for work within the U.S. government, and it’s safe to assume that hiring managers know how your military experience will parlay into a more traditional workplace.

Working for the government will provide you with a wealth of benefits, from healthcare and insurance to a desirable pension that’ll greet you when you retire.

Plus, you might even be able to find work within your realm of expertise. The government controls military operations, after all, so particular departments and organizations would likely be an excellent fit for your post-service career.

8. Remember Where You’ve Been

It might be a struggle to find your footing once you return home. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged by the job search ahead of you. Instead, forge on until you see an employer that values your experience just as much as you do.

That perfect position is out there, and you will discover it in due course. Keep your search steady, your resume up to date and your contacts close. That way, you can strike when the iron’s hot and grab the right position as soon as it becomes available.

With these eight tips in mind, your transition back to civilian life doesn’t have to be a difficult one. Instead, you’re likely to find the role that works for you, as well as an employer who appreciates your service — in the past, in the present, and in the future.

Written By
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, where she shares advice on achieving career happiness and success.For more from Sarah, subscribe to her blog and follow her @SarahLandrum