If military service is all you know, jumping into the job search after you’ve been discharged can be intimidating and overwhelming. There are thousands of jobs out there and even more candidates for them. How do you find a job you’ll like and stand out above the competing candidates?
With a little research, preparation, and hard work, you’ll snatch a 9 to 5 in no time. Just follow a few of these tips to make it a breeze!
Preparing for a Career on Active Duty
Preparing to get a job after discharge while you’re still on active duty makes a huge difference during your job search. Here are a couple tips to make sure you’re entering the job search in the best condition possible.
- Fill gaps in your resume: When you were and were not working is just as important as where you were working. If you have gaps in your employment history, it raises questions about your work ethic, even if you spent those gaps working hard at school, on humanitarian trips, or on active duty in the military. Be sure to fill the empty spaces in your resume by listing experiences you had during those employment gaps and describing how they can help you in the jobs you’re applying for.
- Get a degree or other certifications: If at all possible, try to get a degree in between deployment tours and other military duties. The Department of Veterans Affairs has a many education benefits, so if it is not possible to complete a degree while on active duty, be sure to take advantage of those benefits to get an education before you head out into the job search.
- Build a network: While on active duty, talk to veterans and civilians you know about their jobs, and what they like or don’t like about them. Seeking advice from those who have found success in a field you want to go into can help you build useful contacts, which can, in turn, help you find open positions when you’re ready for a new job.
Starting the Job Search After Active Duty
Once you are released from active duty, and you’re ready to find your new job, follow these tips to make the job search as smooth as possible.
- Revamp your resume: Your resume acts as your first impression when trying to find a new job, so make sure it’s a good one. Your active-duty military service gave you a lot of useful skills for being a successful employee after you’re released (discipline, punctuality, ability to follow instructions, etc.). Take advantage of programs designed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to help you translate your military experience into skills for employment. Be sure to fill in the employment gaps (like I talked about previously) and read over your resume many times to make sure it’s free of grammar mistakes and other errors.
- Use social media: Social media can definitely be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can be seen as a useless void that wastes hours of time. But on the other hand, it can be a useful tool for marketing yourself during a job search. The most important social media platform to have is a LinkedIn account. A strong majority of hiring managers will look for candidates on LinkedIn and look at their profiles before even considering asking them in for an interview. In this technology-driven world, it’s important to build a full, complete LinkedIn profile and use it to your advantage when searching for a job. It’s also important to make sure your other social media profiles support your claim that you are a professional, responsible, and qualified candidate.
- Prepare for interviews: You may feel that you’re a pro at interviews after all the ones you had to go through while on active duty in the military. However, every interview is different, and a job interview atmosphere is a lot different than the military interview atmosphere. It’s important to prepare accordingly. Practice common job interview questions with a friend or a family member. It might be useful to practice in front of a mirror too in order to observe your own body language and make sure you appear calm, personable, and professional. Prior to going into an interview, take time to research the company and position you’re applying for and know why you want to work there.
- Know what you want: You may be anxious to just jump into any job that you’re offered, but before you do, make sure it’s something you want. Yes, a job is a job, and sometimes we have to accept jobs we don’t necessarily love, but when you commit 8 hours of your life there every day, you should at least be doing something you enjoy. If you love your job, you will be more inclined to strive to succeed at it, and you will feel more satisfied with your life.
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