Finding a job after military service can be a daunting task. If your service is coming to an end and you’re starting to wonder what comes next, you aren’t alone. Moving from an almost guaranteed job with options for steady rank increases to a free-for-all in the civilian sector can be intimidating.
However, military service does give you an advantage over other applicants. All you really need is to learn a few new tricks for getting yourself out there, and you’ll find that employers are more willing than ever to hire you.
Learn How to Job Hunt:
One benefit of the military is you never really have to worry about looking for a job. There’s always one lined up for you, and advancement to the next level is just part of the structure. That concept, however, doesn’t apply to civilian life. Learning how to apply to jobs is just as important as learning the job itself. After all, you can’t get started if you can’t get noticed.
There are tons of aspects to job hunting, but it starts with job selection. Figure out what you want to do, and then tailor your job search toward that. Hopefully, your military experience gave you some background in what you want to do, so use that to your full advantage.
Scour the internet and job boards, but don’t depend solely on them. People you know are really your best bet for finding a position. They can let you know about positions that aren’t being advertised, give you advice on whom to speak with and, on occasion, actively participate in getting you an interview. Asking for help on social media like Facebook and Twitter might also offer up some amazing opportunities.
Take Advantage of Resources:
There’s a lot of help available to veterans, so long as you’re willing to seek it out. Many organizations work to help with the transition back to civilian life and offer assistance with job searching. For example, the Veterans Employment Services Office (VESO) provides opportunities and resources that can help veterans, including those with disabilities, find work.
Even if you don’t want help specifically to find a job, it’s still a good idea to reach out to a support network like the National Association of American Veterans (NAAV) — which can also end up being a path to getting a job. Connections with people are still your best opportunity for finding an excellent position. Plus, if you’ve started a new job and are struggling to make arrangements for your children, NAAV is a great place to check out.
Choose Your Career Path:
Once you’ve figured out how to look for a job, you need to figure out what that job should be. Do you want to stay in the area, move far away, continue to travel or settle down with a family? Do you like to work inside or outside, in a lab by yourself or with people? Combine what you know about yourself with the skills you’ve learned during your time in the military.
There are a wide variety of industries veterans will excel at. Surprisingly, business tends to be very good to veterans. Having skills like leadership, perseverance and adaptability puts you ahead of the game. Most civilians will have to work to learn these attributes up while on the job, but you can simply walk in with them. In addition, many of the companies that are looking to hire veterans are in business. That means they make their money by providing a product or service and are always looking for people who can help with that.
Go Back to School If You Need To:
Depending on what you want to do, you may need to go back to school in order to qualify — even some fast food chains now prefer a bachelor’s degree to get into management. It might seem daunting to return to school, but with the GI Bill and some determination, there’s no reason you can’t succeed.
Any way you look at it, the transition from military to civilian life will probably be difficult. You’ll have to learn how to live like a civilian again and possibly resist the temptation to slum it, especially if you’re looking for a job. However, a solid commitment to yourself can make a big difference. If you could get through military service, you can certainly do this!
By Sarah Landrum: Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, a site all about finding career happiness and success. For more from Sarah, subscribe to her newsletter and follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum. Image via Classy Girls Wear Pearls.