CAREER FORECAST 2014 Job Hunting Tips for Returning Vets

Plug into priceless tips for making a smooth and successful transition to the private sector

By Bob Weinstein, Connecticut Media Group
Readjusting to post-war life has been a challenge faced by Americans since the Revolutionary War. The more than two million returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan discovered that the transition was a difficult, more accurately tortuous, one.

With the help of government agencies and the private sector, returning veterans can forge new lives, making good use of their military experience.

To ease the transition, here are several tips that can help veterans build careers.

First, three tips from Sultan Camp, military talent acquisition recruiter at search firm Orion Talent in Virginia Beach, VA:

  1. Only three things matter. Whom you know; who knows you; and who knows what you know. More than 85 percent of hires are made through networking. Ask yourself, "Do I know anyone who can actually hire me right now?" If the answer is "no," then you have to start growing your professional network.
  2. The traditional path no longer guarantees a job. When most of us were growing up decades before a four year college degree was the conventional path to career success - trade schools, community colleges and professional certifications were (and still are) quicker, less expensive alternatives leading to a more lucrative career.
  3. A resumé alone won't cut it anymore. In today's job market, more than 95 percent of hiring managers use social media to find talent. It is critical that military professionals have a strategic online presence on the three biggest platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook). Just as the archetypal Yellow or White pages were the phonebooks everyone used, employers are increasingly looked past the traditional resumé .

Here are more useful tips, from website Veterans for Commonsense (veteransforcommonsense.org):

  • Find companies looking for vets. Many companies have made an explicit point of hiring veterans. There's no better example than the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a joint effort between AT&T, Cisco, Verizon, EMC and seven other major corporations to hire 100,000 veterans and military personnel that end active duty by 2021. Led by JPMorgan Chase, the pledge is focused on hiring veterans with technical skills that they honed in the service.
  • Veterans have a lot to offer tech companies, including refined practical skills, advanced teamwork experience, organization, and clear thinking in high-pressured situations. According to PayScale, many vets are well-versed in computer security, security-risk management, electronic troubleshooting, networking and program management. Because these skills may not be relevant to their core responsibilities, veterans may not leverage them on their resumés and in interviews to the extent they should.
  • Tap into old networks. Vets returning home can tap into old networks, including family and high school friends. The best way to do this is by spending time on networking sites like LinkedIn. LinkedIn provides a forum for people to reach out to those they've met only a few times or in passing to ask for help. More often than not, people are happy to help others, particularly returning veterans.
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