By Gerrit Hall
Tens of thousands of military veterans who have returned home to civilian life face a tough transition into the workforce. Not only are the amount of job opportunities limited in today’s job market, but competition is fierce. This means that vets need to learn quickly how to position themselves for success on the job search.
As your initial introduction to potential employers, your resume is one of the most important pieces of your job search puzzle -- but many veterans struggle to draft something that truly communicates their value to employers.
Here are some common challenges you’re up against as a veteran:
1. Not identifying your achievements or strengths
You might find yourself describing what you did in the military on your resume -- but simply listing responsibilities and duties doesn’t really tell an employer how you’ll be of value in the civilian world. Quantify your experience and accomplishments whenever possible. And remember...be detailed!
For example, instead of saying you “managed several subordinates,” tell the employer how you did that job well. Tell the employer how many people you managed and what types of circumstances impacted it.
There are plenty of ways to quantify your achievements. Think about it: What types of equipment were you in charge of at your last position? How valuable was the equipment? How did you save the military money or time in your position? What helped you rise through the ranks to where you ended up?
2. Failing to market yourself
Although searching for a new job may feel like you’re swimming upstream, you must remember that you’re uniquely hirable as a vet. Identify skills and experience that are of value to potential employers and highlight these aspects in your resume.
For example, in the military you were used to high stress situations, and probably dealt with these on a regular basis. Make sure to emphasize your ability to work under pressure on your resume and be prepared to describe these situations during interviews.
Other things you may have taken away from your military experience include leadership skills, discipline, flexibility, adaptability, time management skills, etc. These are all qualities employers look for in a job candidate, too.
3. Language barriers
The acronyms and phrases you were so used to using on a regular basis in the military will not translate well on your resume. In fact, it may cause your resume to get thrown out on the basis that those keywords do not match up to the job description.
Make it easy for employers to understand what you did at your last position by simplifying the language in your job title. Instead of “Navy Boatswain’s Mate,” use a title like “Watercraft Maintenance Crew Member.”
Despite the challenges you may face on the job search, remember that employers want to hire vets. In fact, Microsoft actively recruits vets and hires about 100 per year, and other major companies such as General Electric, Amazon, and Walmart are also recruiting vets. Coca-Cola also recently announced that it would offer at least 800 job and career opportunities to military veterans this year.
What other challenges do vets face drafting a resume? Do you have any advice to share to vets transitioning back into the civilian workforce?
Gerrit Hall is the CEO and co-founder of RezScore, a free web application that reads, analyzes, and grades resumes – instantly. Gerrit has successfully combined his passion for computer science and the careers space by helping job seekers write the best resume possible. You can connect with Gerrit and RezScore on Facebook and Twitter.