By Debbie Gregory.
Have a Plan– Many active duty personnel are lead to believe that employers are waiting for them, just outside the main gate of their home installation, ready to hire them on the spot, solely based on their Veteran status. In reality, the job market is very competitive, and there are more and more Veterans competing for jobs. Start planning at least six months before you separate. Decide on where you’re going to live, and begin researching employers that are located in your future community. You could even start actively applying for positions so that you are scrambling for a job when you separate.
Set Goals– Your ultimate goal should be working in the career that grants you all that you want in life. In order to accomplish that goal, you should generate an itemized list of what exactly that entails. This won’t happen overnight. Depending on the career, it could be a journey that takes years. In order to keep from getting discouraged, set smaller goals and milestones that you can celebrate along the way. If you take the route of obtaining a vocational certification or degree to land your dream job, you can use the school’s terms as milestones. If you’re actively pursuing employment, you can set goals like landing an interview. Whatever goals you set, be sure to reward yourself when you reach them.
Use ALL of Your Resources– Too many Veterans are relying on internet based job searches to find that perfect job. While these sites can be extremely helpful, job seekers should also approach companies directly. If there is a company that you would like to work for, look them up online and search their site for employment opportunities. Veterans should also remember to network. We have all heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” There is definitely truth in that expression. Get the word out there that you are looking for a job. Tell as many of your friends and family members, neighbors, fellow Veterans and VA reps that you are on the job hunt. You are bound to at least get a few leads, and probably some references too.
Be Confident– Employers want people who can do a job, not fill a space. Veterans have training, knowledge and experience that civilian job candidates won’t. Employers should be reminded that you have been conditioned to follow orders, show up EVERDAY, ON TIME, and strive for mission accomplishment. Let them know how ready you are to work, and proudly tell them what you have to offer. Just be sure to keep away from military-specific language. In plain language, let employers know how many people you supervised, what kind of equipment the military trusted you with, and what kind of responsibilities you were given. Be sure to mention ANY experience that you had in the career field that you are applying for.
Don’t be too Proud– Changing career fields can make landing a position in your new field difficult. Employers want experience that relates directly to their field, especially when hiring for a supervisory role. NCO’s will want to jump out of their boots and into a supervisor position, which may be difficult in many corporate jobs. Don’t be too proud to take an entry level position, or even a temporary one. Apply for internships if you’re attending college using your education benefits. And if you have identified an employer you want to work for, do whatever it takes to gets your foot in the door.