Military Vets – Top 3 Tips To Get a Civilian Job

When you take the big step out of military service back into civilian life, the last thing you need to be worrying about are the difficulties of a civilian job search.  It’s true that veterans’ unemployment rates are higher than average, and it’s true that there are specific obstacles in your way…but the good news is that there are 3 sure-fire solutions you can implement that will get you hired quickly.

Obstacle (and Solution) #1:

Civilian employers don’t understand how your training and skill sets will benefit them.

Here’s the first thing you have to understand about a job search:  it’s a sales process.  You’re the product, and the company you want to work for is your customer.  It’s your job to tell them what you can bring to them…what solutions you provide, what benefits you bring, etc.  Civilians can’t usually translate military experience into their own ‘language’, so it’s your job to translate and explain.  Start studying job descriptions for things you are applying for and insert that language in your resume and cover letters. Think about how your skills can help a company make money, save money, save time, be more efficient, etc.  They’re interested in the bottom line, which is, what’s in it for them?

Obstacle (and Solution) #2:

Companies are afraid that you won’t fit into corporate culture.

Just like you had to learn the language, customs, and culture of the military, you now have to learn the language and culture of corporate America.  How? 

  • Do some online research concerning the jobs you’re interested in.  What are the buzzwords?  What are the big dogs in the industry doing?  What are the trends? 


  • Talk to people in the field.  If you can, use any and all of your civilian contacts to set up informational interviews with people in your prospective field. Try job shadowing someone who’s working in the job you want.  Ask lots of questions and educate yourself so you can speak more knowledgably about the job. 


  • Role-play interview questions with a civilian.  Good interview preparation is priceless.  The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be in an interview situation.


  • Create a 30-60-90-Day Plan for every interview.  There’s nothing in the world better than this for proving to an employer that you know your stuff (even if you’re brand new) and you can hit the ground running. 

Obstacle (and Solution) #3:

Because you aren’t experienced in this whole civilian job hunt thing, you spend your time applying for jobs online—and your job search stretches out for months. 

Applying online is a bad idea for any job seeker, but it’s especially bad for you because you already may be starting out at a disadvantage because you don’t have the ‘perfect’ background for your chosen job.  Resumes and applications that don’t perfect match the keywords that Human Resources is looking for don’t get pulled up for interviews.  So what happens is that even if you’d be the best employee they’ve ever had, you won’t even get a chance to discuss it with them.  So, what do you do?

You must do everything you can to speak directly to hiring managers (your future boss, or your boss’s boss).  That person is the decision-maker with the authority to interview and hire you.  Therefore, that person is your strongest chance at getting the job.  How do you find them?

Set up a profile on LinkedIn and start searching for people in your field who have the same military background that you do.  Contact that person and let them know that you’re looking for a job.  Ask if they know anyone looking for someone like you.  Ask if you can send your resume.  Use the bond between servicemen and women to your advantage.  They want to help you, and they are also more likely to quickly recognize your value. 


In today’s job market, all job seekers must be more aggressive than ever before.  As a transitioning military to civilian job seeker, you are no exception.  Use these tips, be aggressive, remember your value, and don’t give up.  You will be successful.

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