Some transitioning service members may have their next steps planned out and a job waiting for them. For me (and most other vets) that was not the case. Upon returning home from a 10 month Afghanistan deployment, my last two months in the Navy were a whirlwind: processing out of the Navy, moving to DC, getting married, buying a house, and last but not least- finding a job.
I had a lot on my plate and no clue where to start. Fortunately, a couple vets offered to mentor me through the process and helped me start off on the right track. Here are a few tips to help you take the first step:
- Don’t Wait. This may seem obvious but I have spoken with many vets who do not actively search for a job or build their network until right before or during terminal leave. Sometimes you don’t have an option if you are deployed or TDY prior to leaving the military. But, if you begin thinking about your transition sooner rather than later, you will set yourself up for success and won’t feel pressured to take the first opportunity that comes your way. Stay tuned for future blogs about job searches and networking.
- Use Resources. Over 40% of veterans in NY, for example, are not aware of benefits available to them. There are numerous organizations dedicated to helping vets transition. The Department of Labor’s Career One Stop site includes a skills translator as well as links to local resources. The National Resource Directory includes information for starting your own business, pursuing certifications, or industry specific career training to name a few. We will be highlighting resources and organizations in an upcoming blog. Contact us with any of your career resources questions!
- Build Your Network. The reality is that most people get their jobs through networking. Numerous companies throughout the country have pledged to hire veterans, but nothing beats having someone forward your resume to a hiring manager. First, build your LinkedIn profile. Be sure to include your skills and a description of your work experience in civilian terms. No acronyms! Then, begin to reach out to the group pages of your previous commands, as well as veteran groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. If a group doesn’t exist for one of your commands or NROTC units, create one! You’ll be surprised how quickly you can build your network by taking some initiative.
- Ignore Rank. To successfully network, you must forget the formalities and be assertive. Don’t avoid reaching out to someone in your network who is a member of a common group because they were a higher rank than you. Not everyone will be responsive, but a few helpful vets will be extremely valuable as you transition.