Top 5 Job Hunting Tips for Vets

Finding a job in this volatile job market is tough for anyone…especially Veterans.  You have sacrificed 4+ years of your post-high school life (for the most part) serving your country and acquiring skills that most could only dream about obtaining or experiencing.  You may or may not have a college degree to add to that.  For some reason, Veterans have a harder time finding a job than your everyday civilian and that, in my opinion, is a shame and I can’t really put a finger on as to why it is the case.  What I do have that is tangible are 5 Job Hunting Tips for Vets that may help Vets land that job that they deserve. 

1. Determine Your Objective. Be realistic with yourself with respect to the level of education, skills and other assets you do have.  I think that one of the tough things for Veterans to do is make a real assessment of their value to a particular career goal and get disappointed when things aren’t working out.  True, there are some employers who understand and value the skills you have as a Veteran, but the reality is most don’t.  Read, soul search, and seek advice from friends, professionals, and anyone else who can help you come to closure on what you want to realistically pursue as a career.  Having an objective is the most critical step for finding employment.

2. Research! The three best tools for this are the Internet, books and networking.  Of all these resources, the most effective, reliable, and current data, in my opinion, is obtained through non job-specific interviews with someone in the field in which you want to work.  Ask to meet with a corporate lawyer, engineer, corrections officer or even a truck driver.  Talk with them about what they do, how their days usually flow, how they got started, etc. Listen, this type of inside information will not only give you great insight on how/where to start but if you ever do get that job interview, that person will realize that you know what you’re talking about and are serious about the job you’re applying for.

3. Compile a GOOD Resume.  I capitalize GOOD for a reason.  Not many people know how to write a good resume.  They oftentimes put down awful details about themselves and their skills, use poor grammar/spelling and are unable to sell themselves to an employer.  One big thing is to only highlight the skills that are important to that employer.  This may mean that you have a write a few different resumes for different people, but oh well. Take the time to have others review your resume as well.  Many local community colleges and universities may offer free resume reviews and may even sit down with you to help you compile a good resume based on a face to face conversation about your skills.

4. Sell Your Military Experience Wisely.  I know that being an Infantry Squad leader requires leadership, common sense and a lot of hard work, but your everyday employer doesn’t.  Sure you may be one hell of a shot and can mass fires on target, but what good does that do for someone who needs their corporate accounts managed?  Take some time to review the job description and think about what skills that job will require.  Now, think about what capacity you have served in the military and try to find some corollary between the two.  Being an Infantry Squad leader might mean much written as such, but if you divulge into the level of responsibility you undertook (i.e. organization and accountability of equipment, leader of 6-10 Soldiers, written and verbal communication skills (OPORDs, etc.) and other skills) it will be clear to employers what your bring to the table.

5. Search Out Military Friendly Employers.  This all comes back to networking.  Once in a while I see advertised military oriented career fairs.  Attend them!  Not only will you show your face and possibly land a job, but you will be exposed to the companies and organizations that actively seek military Veterans.  That is a huge leg up when you can narrow down your employment to a handful of companies that actually want to hire a Veteran.  Talk with other Vets as well.  They may know a friend, who knows a mailman, who has a sister that works for the CEO or boss of a company who is a Veteran himself and may be willing to offer you a job.  Government and state jobs are also very military friendly!

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that you need a game-plan if you want to find a good job in today’s marketplace.  It definitely won’t happen by accident.  Follow the five steps I mentioned above and you will be well on your way to getting the job you want and deserve.

What are your thoughts?  What are the best job hunting tips for Vets that you can think of?  Leave a comment and let us know.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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8 thoughts on “Top 5 Job Hunting Tips for Vets”

  1. This was an excellent post. I have found since I got out of the service that you can at least put down veteran’s status on your applications.

    I don’t fill out many applications anymore, but I do fill out paperwork to process in to some jobs as a contractor. That’s a different process though, from an actual application.

    Most places still honor your service. Most bosses and interviewers will honor your service.

    You do still have some that are just being polite and have been in their own little world their entire lives, and do not honor service men and women enough. That nonchalant attitude comes out more than they realize.

    I don’t get insulted by it, I simply see it.

    The bottom line is making yourself so valuable and exude so much confidence that they take notice regardless.

    In a way you have to be prepared for a different battle. It is a mental battle. You prepared for more than one battle while in the service, so you know you can prepare and win the battle of the job market as well.

    There are excellent points laid out in this post that put people well on their way.

  2. A very important point in any job search, including when a military veteran is searching for a job, is Don’t Give Up!! Yes, it’s frustrating and irritating and even heartbreaking sometimes, but the law of averages is in your favor. If you put in enough applications, you WILL get some interviews for positions where your training and experience will stand you in good stead. And when you get interviews, you WILL eventually get a job offer. Notice I said “enough applications.” When I was looking for work, I put in over 1000 applications in the space of about three months. It’s no fun, but it’s what you have to do in today’s economy. Hang in there. Stick with it, and don’t give up!

  3. Candace Ginestar

    I know one big issue Jesse had when he finished college last year, was that his resume was ALL military no matter what he did. It’s been his entire life for 12 years, and even if he changed the wording around to fit whatever job he was applying for, they seemed to ignore the fact that he graduated magna cum laude and finished his degree amidst all obstacles that the military could provide for him. Fortunately, he was an ideal candidate for the Sheriff Department, but the banks were not interested in his knowledge, even though he has a lot of financial expertise.

  4. There is nothing more saddening than being seemingly rejected by the country that you served. The inability for many to find work post service has always boggled my mind. We claim to value commitment, hard work, training & education yet ex-soldiers with those exact values and qualifications can’t find gainful employment. Networking is very important. Finding those employers who are open, and even seek out those with military service. Talk to others who have been in your shoes and ask them how they got back into civilian life and found work.

  5. It is sad that many veterans are having a difficult time finding employment. With that being said, I believe it is not just veterans, but all.

    I would like to offer some ideas, but first I must say that you may want to downplay your experience and expertise some. Many employers are afraid they just cannot afford to hire you because of past experience.

    As Chuck stated, a great resume is mandatory. It needs to be shining and easy to read. If you are not good at making resumes, there are many who do for very low fees.

    I would also suggest freelancing your skills. As a member of, I know that there are many ways you can freelance.

    Many people are going out on their own in this economy. A handyman service, lawncare, construction, etc… are all great ways to make a living.

    Employers, please consider veterans more. They served us, we owe them.

  6. After leaving his military career, my husband attempted to get a full-time civilian job. Needless to say, it did not work out as planned. He tells me all of the time how he regrets leaving his position, simply because he was making great money and “living the life”. But there were circumstances back home with his family that needed to be resolved, so he chose family over money and promotion (which he was up for – such a bummer).

    After his search efforts fell through, he finally landed an $8 an hour job, working full-time at a church as a maintenance assistant. It is so saddening that the economy has plummeted and even our Veterans cannot land good, well-paying jobs. However, there are some really great companies out there that give military officials and Veterans precedence, such as Cintas, Starbucks, Walmart, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Fedex just to name a few.

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