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The Job Search for Veterans

By The ZipRecruiter Editors

On Veteran’s Day, people remember the contributions of service members to the country. However, some who come home are greeted by a daunting job search and high unemployment. According to, young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, classified by the government as Gulf War era II veterans, face a 10 percent unemployment rate, which is 37 percent higher than that of the general population. Military personnel returning to civilian life often have a hard time obtaining satisfying employment. Some former service members who went directly from high school or college to the military may never have conducted a serious job search before, which puts them at a disadvantage. However, there are ways to find a great job even if this is your first time trying and your only other experience is in the military. We’ll review a few recommended methods for finding a great position using free job sites and accompanying methods.

Understand How Your Qualifications Transfer

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers a tool online that lets you type in the title you held in the military and receive a summary of what the closest civilian equivalent is and what marketable skills you have. This can be extremely helpful for when you’re working on a resume to upload to a resume database. Hiring managers are likely looking for people with your qualifications, but they won’t understand you have them unless you put them in the language of the civilian corporate world, which this tool can help you do.

If you had a very specialized position in the military, consider whether it has broader applications. For example, Business News Daily recommends veterans who spent time working on jet or helicopter engines market themselves as mechanics generally, as they’re likely to have the skills and this opens many more opportunities to them.

You Have Other Assets, Too

According to The Chicago Tribune, employers also look for personality traits that are traditionally associated with military service. For example, a survey revealed 63 percent of companies want employees with a disciplined approach to their work, and 60 percent place great value on the ability to work as a team. These are traits that are extremely important in the military, and veterans should make sure to capitalize on them in cover letters, resumes and interviews. It may not seem remarkable to you that you have discipline or can handle teamwork well, but it will stand out to employers who are looking for just that.

A period of service overseas can also be an asset when you’re looking to work for certain companies. Multiculturalism is important in the business world, and if you’ve proven you can work with people from many backgrounds and locations you’re a step ahead in the job market. There are also companies looking to hire people familiar with the culture of a particular location to work as liaisons between locations or at a location in a different country. Some keyword searches on free job boards may point you in the direction of these firms.

Seek Out Businesses That Want You

Many companies have made public commitments to hiring veterans, whether in general or at a certain number or percentage of their workforce. These are good businesses to start with in the application process. Companies may not advertise this on their free job posts, so you should do some Googling and see what comes up about any firms you’re interested in working for.

Larger businesses often have affinity groups for employees from certain backgrounds or with particular experiences. Finding a company with a veterans’ affinity group can be helpful, as you’ll be able to talk to others who’ve experienced the transition back to civilian life just as you have. This can help smooth the transition for veterans, many of whom experience some uncertainty about corporate life when they first begin to engage in it. A dedicated veterans mentorship program is also something to look for.

While programs like these might not be widely advertised on online job postings, don’t be afraid to contact the company and ask whether they offer them. If you’re hired at a place that doesn’t offer this kind of institutionalized support, you can always attempt to create an ad hoc group if there are other veterans employed there.

Use Available Resources

Many organizations all over the country offer help for veterans looking for civilian jobs. From resume help to interview practice, these groups can help you polish up your job-search skills and land a position you’ll enjoy. This also has the benefit of letting you connect with other veterans on the lookout for work.

With a combination of hard work and using resources as well as you can, you can gain the confidence necessary to seek out a career that will fulfill you.

The ZipRecruiter Editors

At ZipRecruiter, our mission is to connect employers and job seekers with their next great opportunity. On the ZipRecruiter blog, we use insider experience and data derived from our AI-driven jobs marketplace to provide advice and insights on topics such as the job search process, interviewing, and labor market trends. Start your job search or post a job today and connect with us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

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