Veterans, we salute you – and we want to see you land a great job that uses some of the skills you developed in the military.
Almost three-in-ten employers are actively recruiting veterans, and that’s up by 9 percentage points from a year ago, according to a new CareerBuilder survey which showed the most in-demand jobs are in IT, customer service, engineering and sales.
That doesn’t mean finding a job will be easy – the jobless rate for young veterans who served in the last decade still is 10.0 percent in October, and 15.5 percent for female veterans.
So here are my five suggestions for veterans who are searching for private sector jobs, in honor of Veteran’s Day (and my son who is about to join the Navy):
- Face the future with a plan. Start with the end in mind – and then plan your search strategy. Job seekers who create target lists of preferred employers are already ahead. Those who set clear weekly goals for themselves – including how many new people they want to meet and talk to – are going to move ahead faster. I’d love to be able to recommend a book, an app, a blog series on planning your job hunt – I will try to find one and share it soon. One of best career books is What Color Is Your Parachute? By Richard Bolles.
- Translate your talents. Your skill-set may be impressive, but if it’s written in Army lingo, many recruiters and hiring managers won’t understand it. So turn it into civilian terms – including some that are highly sought after by employers. LINK Consider the American Management Association’s four Cs – communications, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity or innovation. If you ‘re having trouble switching off the military jargon, consider hiring a resume writer or visiting a reputable organization that helps with transitioning from military to civilian work.
- Lend a hand. Volunteer work, whether at the end of your military career or as you’re moving into private sector work, can be invaluable in building networks and sharpening skills. Choose your charity and your role carefully. I recommend you bypass the military and veteran assistance groups for now since you already have plenty of that experience. Instead, consider a business organization or a nonprofit where you are likely to meet people who are in the field you plan to join.
- Salute social media. If you’re not on Twitter, get started today. You’ll find career coaches and experts galore if you start following @GlassDoorDotCom ; @WorkingKind (that’s me), @ValueIntoWords and @phyllismufson . Then pick a second site where you can share and learn; I’m partial to Quora and am warming up to Google+ but you may find others more aligned with your future.
- Use your military network. Just like University of Michigan alumni are more likely to offer an informational interview to a recent grad, Navy vets are going to make time for you. The MOAA organizes career fairs for officers; some veteran-owned businesses pride themselves on bringing on other vets. Don’t underestimate these connections; they will bring you work opportunities or introduce you to someone who will sign your next paycheck. (For more on this, read up on ‘the power of loose ties’ LINK coming soon.)