When veterans enter their life after service, they trade the difficulties of military culture for those of the homefront. Among the charming wonders of civilian life are the headaches associated with trying to find a good place of employment. Plenty of veterans have found that, even after successful military careers, they continue to fire off resumes to no effect.
If that's the case, it's time to reassess your candidate profile and make some adjustments. While veterans are very much in-demand around the country, job competition remains pretty fierce, and that means a fine-tuned approach is called for if you're going to land a great position.
Here are some areas to consider:
Begin with the most obvious starting point. Since your resume is an employer's first opportunity to begin to know you, it's important that you make it as noteworthy as possible. That means you highlight your strengths, abilities and value to a particular company in clear, precise language. It also means that you don't rely too heavily on clichés. Make yourself stand out.
For example, rather than write that you're a "hard worker" with "leadership abilities," point to a specific time and place where those qualities were demonstrated. Did you lead a squad overseas? Run an office on base? What exact results did you achieve? These are the kinds of concrete details employers are looking for.
If your resume is a first look, than your cover letter is a first impression. Imagine you're speaking to an employer face-to-face for the first time. You'd want to impress them, right? That's what your cover letter is for. It's a small piece of your personality, a glimpse into who you are as both a worker and as an individual.
Remember that the human resources staffs at most companies are usually swamped with resumes and applications. Oftentimes they'll just read the first few paragraphs of a cover letter or summary before moving on to the next candidate. You can't just be another face in the crowd. Capture their attention from the get-go and refuse to let go of it.
Part of the difficulty veterans face is that civilian employers don't know how to put their skills to use.
"In my experience, companies have struggled to figure out how veterans fit in their own organizations," Mike Starich, a Marine and CEO of Orion ICS LLC, told NorthJersey.com. "Many companies are making an effort. I believe they have an obligation to help veterans find the best fit inside a company."
To help employers better understand your value to their business, take a close look at the job qualifications listed in the description. You may meet all of them, or you may not. Match up your abilities to those required as best as you can. A recruiter may be persuaded to hire you based on those qualifications you do have and train you on those you don't.
Don't get entirely bogged down in pursuit of a bulletproof resume and forget the other resources at your disposal, namely, other veterans. Many returning servicemembers have found jobs simply by talking to veterans who have been out on the job hunt before. The ground you're treading is familiar to them. Ask them for advice, to look over your resume, and possibly put you in contact with employers.
Talking to people and being engaged with your community is invaluable. Whether that's through volunteer work, sports leagues or group hobbies, it gets you speaking to a wider array of people who may be able to help you find work. Don't let these opportunities pass you by.