You’ve proven your commitment, discipline and resourcefulness in the military world. Now it’s time to trade in your experience for a great job. Just like everything, it’s all about readiness and attitude. Start early. Be prepared. Go for it.
- First step, verify yourself. Your Verification of Military Experience and Training, or VMET, summarizes your skills, knowledge and experience, and suggests civilian equivalent job titles. To obtain a copy of your VMET, visit the milConnect website.
- Get a career assessment. You have considerable strengths and skills. Now, how can they be applied to a civilian job? A career assessment can point the way. Contact your local transition assistance office and ask your counselor how you can be set up with a career assessment free of charge.
- Translate your experience. Your military licenses or certifications might not be recognizable to the civilian world. Learn how to translate your training and experience into skills employers recognize with Credentialing Opportunities Online, or COOL. Visit the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service website to learn more and locate your service branch’s COOL website.
- Assess, repeat. Narrow your search to a few career fields, check salary information and common skill requirements. The CareerOneStop website, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, offers free skills and interest assessments, career exploration tools, and much more. They also have a section specifically for transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses. Decide on the type of job, pay range and location you’re willing to accept. But don’t pigeon-hole yourself. If you’re not making headway, adjust your expectations or explore new options.
- Get out there. Take advantage of every resource and opportunity: recruiters, military transition offices, veteran service organizations, online information. Utilize and grow your network. Contact your nearest employment office or private employment agencies (make sure you know who’s paying). Check internet job sites, such as LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor – but watch it. Get recommendations for trustworthy sites.
- Tap your transition assistance office. Take an employment workshop. Get referrals for employment agencies and recruiters, job leads, career counseling and computer access for online job searches. Transition assistance offices have a wealth of services. You can also visit the Department of Labor’s Transition Assistance Program website for more resources.
- Look good online. Employers check social media almost immediately when they’re thinking of hiring. Do you need to remove material that makes you look like a bad hire? Get a professional email address or headshot? How about creating or updating your profile on LinkedIn?
- Hit the job fairs. This is one-stop shopping. Meet potential employers, pass out resumes and interview on the spot, all in one place. Look sharp and practice your interview skills beforehand. Learn about upcoming job fairs and who will be there at your transition office as well as online. Check out CareerOneStop’s tips for creating or updating your resume.
- Go from military to Fed. Find civilian jobs online with the federal government through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. You can also create an account and build your resume at USAJOBS. Brush up on federal hiring with FedsHireVets.
- Network, then network some more. Networking is one of the most effective of all job search tools. You’ve made a lot of great connections during your time in the service. Transition is the right time to start putting them to work. Get in touch with friends and fellow veterans. It’s just a good thing anyway to re-establish friendships as you transition. Learn more from CareerOneStop about why networking is your most important job search strategy.
- Take advantage of your status. Many organizations are committed to helping veterans find a good job. Look for groups with programs for service members such as:
Your military experience is valuable to many employers. Not many people have your proven work ethic and dedication. Like everything, finding the right job is a matter of being prepared and doing the work. You’re in the military. You know how to make that happen. And there are lots of people and resources who want to back you up.