As you know, the U.S. is planning on withdrawing from Afghanistan and shrinking the amount of troops overseas, which means that thousands of young veterans will be returning to the civilian workforce in the coming years. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 era veterans is more than 12 percent, 3 percent higher than the rate for the general population. The government has pledged to get more veterans back to work, but it will ultimately be up to the veteran’s own actions and determination to land a new job in today’s recovering job market.
Are you struggling with the transition from the military back into the general workforce? Here are five helpful tips for veterans searching for a new job:
1. Draft a strong resume. Your resume is often the only impression you’re able to make on a potential employer — so make it clear the value you’ll bring to the table if hired. This means you need to figure out your transferable skills, focus on accomplishments, and put your resume into language that is easy to understand for someone not familiar with military terminology (basically, don’t use too much jargon). To fine-tune it, use free online scoring and tailoring tools to see how your resume measures up. If you’re really struggling, a professional resume writer can help you strengthen it.
2. Visit your local library. The resources available here extend beyond the obvious ability to check out books (although, there are a bunch of great career and job search books available today). Most libraries also have daily or weekly programs that you can attend for free—including classes where you can brush up on your skills. Your library may also offer free access to the Internet, along with other technology such as photocopiers, fax machines, and webcams, access to different databases, and local information on your community, among other things.
3. Focus on companies known for hiring and recruiting vets. Large organizations like Microsoft, Boeing, Wal-Mart and Amazon are known for hiring veterans, and recently Coca-Cola announced new job opportunities for military vets.
4. Seek out exclusive groups and meetups. Aside from using LinkedIn to list your qualifications and to connect with your professional network, check out the different LinkedIn Groups focused solely on veterans. There’s the US Military Veterans Network group (with more than 18,000 members), US Navy Veterans, Iraq War Veterans, Army Veterans, and even a group called Veterans Hired that helps you connect with employers who have programs for vets. Search Meetup.com or Twitter to find a meetup group for veterans in your area.
5. Check out paid job search products. Although there are plenty of great free resources available to fine-tune your resume or organize your job search, don’t hesitate to ask if there is a veteran discount available for job search products that cost money.