Top Job Search Tips for Veterans: How to Find and Apply for Your Dream Job

Are you a veteran in search of your next career? Navigating the job market is tough but we make it easier with these top job search tips. Check out our recommendations on networking, resume building, and more!

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Are you specifically looking for top job search tips for veterans or military spouses?

Maybe, you’re getting ready to transition out the military, and don’t know where to start?

Perhaps, you’re looking to step into a new career after a few years of work in the civilian world?

Either of these situations can be a disorienting time for you, but don’t worry! All of us at BufferSprings have been in the same spot, and we’re ready to share our top job search tips for veterans so you’re set up to succeed from day one. 

In other words? We’ve got your back.

The First Step...

First and foremost, congratulations on taking this next step in your life! After serving your country, it’s time to find a meaningful career in the civilian sector. There is an art form to marketing yourself outside of the military, and we’ve got a few pointers for you. With the right plan and approach, you can find a career that is fulfilling and allows you to use the skills and experiences gained while in service. 

As you’re getting started, we highly recommend that you join our veteran community to stay up to date about job hunting tips, hot jobs from our military-effective employer partners, and powerful resources to help your transition.

Now, let’s dive into some essential top job search tips for veterans to get you started!

Develop Your Resume

Before applying for jobs, develop or update your resume so that it accurately reflects who you are as an applicant. 

Our number one piece of advice is to tailor your resume to each individual employer. Make a master copy of your resume that includes everything. Then, edit your master copy for each job you apply for. This will help you market your skills in a more comprehensive way! 

Include information related to any civilian work experience and education obtained outside of the military. Your resume should include:

  • Details about your military experience: Be specific about the skills you developed and accomplishments you achieved. What did you do during your time in uniform?
  • Positions held: Were you in a leadership position? What roles did you fill that distinguish you from other applicants?
  • Training received: every job in the military involves a training curriculum. Are you leaving the service with any unique certifications or qualifications that will appeal to the companies you are looking to work for?
  • Awards earned: this is a great opportunity to “low-key” brag about the great things you did on active duty. Share snippets of your success!
  • Key accomplishments: what did you do that sets you apart? Did you design a new training program? Are there any processes that you changed to streamline efficiency? This is a fantastic opportunity to bring that up.
  • Education: did you work to earn a degree while serving? This is important to employers!

Finally, be sure to highlight intangible skills that make you unique – whether they’re leadership or communication abilities – using concrete examples from your past experiences. In today’s workforce, these “soft” skills are in high demand. Use that to your advantage!

Utilize Veteran Service Organizations

The transition from military service to civilian life can be challenging, but there are many organizations dedicated to helping veterans succeed in their post-service careers.

These organizations offer job search assistance specifically designed for veterans; some even have job fairs available for veterans only! Connect with local organizations via social media or through online forums and locate resources that could potentially help your job search process. Some organizations to check out:

These are just a few of the organizations out there that are dedicated to helping veterans transition smoothly into the civilian workforce.

These groups offer free assistance meant to help your dial in your job application game. Some of these features include resume reviews, mock interview sessions, and connections with industry partners who are looking to hire in your field of expertise. There are great people who work for these organizations that are eager to help set you up for success!

Identify Transferable Skills

As a veteran, chances are high that you have acquired valuable skills through both your military experience and any civilian work experience outside of the service (like volunteer work). Reflect on those skills – often referred to as knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) –and identify how they may transfer into various job roles within different industries you hope to find a job working in. Ask yourself the hard questions, like:

  • “What transferable skills do I possess?” 
  • “How can I apply these skills to potential jobs?” 
  • “Do I see myself using these skills outside of the military?”
  • “What specialty knowledge do I have that can lead to a rewarding career?”

Doing so will increase your confidence during the application process when employers ask questions related to KSAs which may not always be directly connected with prior positions held in the military field.

Network with Other Professionals

Have you ever heard that your net worth is directly related to your network?

Well, it’s 100% true and it’s never more obvious than when you’re looking for a new career.

Your military connections don’t end when you leave the service! Leverage relationships with former colleagues or mentors who may provide insight into various job openings or industry trends. 

Additionally, consider attending professional events like conferences or seminars where recruiters may be present; network with other professionals by introducing yourself and having meaningful conversations about possible opportunities within their organization(s). This can be uncomfortable at first, but learning to make connections with industry professionals is a critical skill to develop. 

Also, look into joining groups like industry-specific professional associations that will give you access to helpful career advice from people working in similar fields of interest. Becoming a member of these online or in-person groups will help connect you with prospective companies hiring across multiple industries/locations/positions – sometimes even before they advertise them publicly!

Online Job Portals and Platforms

This is an offshoot of the last topic, but it’s just as important. Utilize online platforms when searching for job postings based on geographic area(s) of interest, desired salary range(s), company rating/size/type, etc. Familiarize yourself with popular options like:

  • LinkedIn Jobs: which allows users to filter postings according their profile
  • Indeed: another great tool offering an expansive listing of jobs across different industries including remote opportunities if needed – all from one convenient platform! 
  • Don’t forget about specialized sites catering specifically towards veterans like USAJobs & VetJobs which list government positions specifically tailored towards individuals transitioning out of service life & looking for new opportunities now open within public sector roles.

Pro Tip

Make sure that your qualifications correspond with job postings before submitting applications! Don’t waste your time applying for jobs that don’t align with your skills, knowledge base, or interests.

Reach Out Directly

Go old school…Don’t underestimate the power of direct contact when finding a new opportunity – whether it’s applying directly at company websites or reaching out via email/phone call – reach out personally whenever possible. 

Don’t be intimidated by initial rejections either! Companies appreciate candidates who take initiative & demonstrate a genuine interest in wanting their position – so don’t shy away from expressing that enthusiasm through personal outreach efforts whether it’s sending personalized cover letters alongside resumes upon submission or making follow-up calls after interviews etc.

Pro Tip

Lean on your military connections! When you are researching a company, see if there is a current employee who shares your military affiliation. Marines are Marines for life, and the same goes for the other branches. Use your community ties to connect!

Prepare For Interviews

Finally, and this is going to sound like a “no-brainer,” but prepare thoroughly beforehand! Here are a few tried and true things you should do before interviewing for a company you’d like to end up working for:

  • Research companies prior to heading into interviews – At a bare minimum, know who the CEO is, and what the mission statement of the company is. 
  • Practice speaking points aloud before interviewing: rehearsal leads to success. Take as many dry runs as you want! Some applicants like to write out an outline of speaking points to keep them on track during an interview.
  • Make sure clothing is cleanly pressed: this may also seem like a “no-brainer,” but dress for the job you want. If you show up looking sharp, you’ll only be strengthening your case to be hired!
  • Arrive early: Showcase your punctuality and dedication. This isn’t typically an issue for military members…we show up early to optional events! That being said, for both in-person and virtual interviews, give yourself a buffer for delays or technical issues. 
  • Show up confident: you were asked to interview for a reason! Show up organized and ready to answer and discuss anything on your resume, including your military service. This will give your potential employers the impression that you are ready to tackle whatever tasks come your way if invited back second round interview…or show up to work on Monday!

Final Thoughts

By following these steps above, veterans can confidently navigate applying for and excelling in post-service roles. This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but if you follow these guidelines, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance of success while looking for your post-military dream job!

So keep the above ideas in mind to help ensure your smooth transition between military life and a rewarding post-military career!

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