A little over one year ago (August 2011), President Obama announced that 1 million service members are expected to leave the military between 2011 and 2016. The vast majority of those veterans will not be retiring. Rather, they will turn their attention toward seeking out civilian jobs.
In September 2012, the U.S. unemployment rate was calculated at 7.8%, down from the October 2009 high of 10%. However, a 7.8% unemployment rate is still alarming, and analysts are uncertain about the future.
With one million veterans entering into the workforce over the next few years, job competition will be fierce. However, veterans have an edge with their military credentials and experience. Also, the plethora of tax credit incentives that employers get when hiring veterans are expected to go a long way.
Transitioning Into Life as a Veteran
The first step in finding work as a veteran is to make the adjustment from military to civilian life. While veteran resources are still far from perfect, there are more resources available now than in recent years (from counseling to health care to home loans).
Visit the United States Department of Veteran Affairs resource page to find out what kind of transitory assistance you might qualify for. Before you can begin applying for a civilian job, you should feel reasonably comfortable living a civilian life. Clearly, this might be a very gradual process for some veterans.
Strategizing the Resume Process
Prior to seeking out jobs, it’s important to do some introspective thinking. Veterans should evaluate their past, and ask themselves what they want out of their future career.
1. Personal Strengths & Aspirations
As unemployment drags on, the temptation to take any decent paying job can become strong. Instead of giving in, veterans should look at their own strengths and aspirations, and make these things a focal point of their resumes.
2. What the Employer Wants & Needs
Also, a good veteran’s resume will put just as much focus on what the employer wants and needs. Veterans who have successful post-military careers tend to be successful because they understand how to meet not just their own needs, but also their employer’s.
Veterans should demilitarize their language as they plan out their resumes, as military-specific language can be isolating for employers. Furthermore, it hints at the veteran’s lack of ability to transition from the military to the private sector, which most all employers will consider a turn-off.
Writing the Resume
Once the strategizing process is complete, it’s time to write the resume. For a thorough (non-veteran specific) guide on how to write a resume, visit this page on JobGoRound.com. However, the short of resume writing is this:
- Bullet points and short sentences are crucial. Most readers won’t get through the first half of the first page otherwise.
- That being said, the highlights of a resume should appear in the first half of the first page.
- Overly technical or “business-y” language should be avoided.
- Keep things as simple as possible.
- Spell check. Spell check again.
Official Government Resources for Veterans
Every veteran probably knows about these three government resources. These three sites are good general resources, but don’t list actual jobs.
Feds Hire Vets: This site is a great resource for veterans preparing to enter the civilian work force.
U.S. Dept. of Labor: The DOL offers veteran-specific resources with a regularly updated news page.
Private Resources for Veterans
The most valuable job search resources for veterans will be found on the private websites below:
Military.com: The largest veteran job board in the world, Military.com should be every veteran’s first resource on the web.
National Veterans Foundation: The NVF is a first-class job resource site. It includes job listings, a fairly active blog, and a live online chat and toll free number.
GovernmentResume.org: This site specializes in providing resume writing advice for government positions.
Military Hire: Use the “Quick Job Search” function in the top left of this website to find jobs. Plus, features like advice on transitioning from active duty and a salary wizard make this site worth bookmarking.
Vet Jobs: Post a resume and/or search for jobs here. This site helps veterans’ spouses, too!
Veterans who hone their resume-writing skills and continue to push open doors will land their first private sector job. The job market may be tough, but veterans have an edge over ordinary civilians when they know how to translate their skills to the private sector!