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Salute To Our Veterans

First, I’d like to say thank you to all of our military veterans, and active duty military. With Veterans Day coming up on Wednesday, it’s important to take a moment to highlight this special group of people. I feel thankful to live in a country where men and women volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way for the greater good.

But, the sacrifice of the veteran doesn’t end when they leave the military. Transitioning back into the civilian corporate working world is a very difficult process for most veterans. Like most people, I was relatively unaware of this issue before starting my business.

Over the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to both work with military veterans in my coaching practice, and to interview military veterans for my podcast. I’ve learned a great deal from these folks that has given me a much broader perspective on life after the military.

Some of the common struggles military veterans face when transitioning into the civilian workforce include:

  • Having great experience on their resume that doesn’t translate well to the corporate hiring manager
  • Feeling the hiring manager may be negatively biased towards veterans
  • Not having a professional network that expands beyond the military
  • Limited experience applying for or interviewing for jobs
  • Difficulty finding a position that will pay enough to support the same quality of life
  • Not enough professional support provided to assist with these issues while making the transition

Many of these struggles are common for job seekers from all industries, but they can be especially challenging for veterans. From what has been shared with me from those who have actually lived it, the experience reminds me a bit of leaving an impressive job with a great title that everyone respects – and then transitioning into a brand new field and industry where you have no prior experience, no connections, and you don’t really know how the whole game is played. It’s like everyone is speaking a foreign language. And, in a way, you’ve lost your own identity.

You spent years honing your political prowess and leadership skills, but those rules don’t apply anymore. You’ve got to start from scratch – and quickly – to be able to maintain the quality of life for you and your family. It’s scary, stressful, and definitely not the way it was described when you were still in the military.

If you, or someone you love is facing these issues, here are a few tips to help out:

  • Start networking – Focus the largest part of your job search on networking. When you apply online, it’s rare that any person will actually see your resume. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply online. But, it means that you should put a significant focus on the offline world.
  • Get a LinkedIn account – This is important. It will help you with networking, and it will help you to locate hiring managers. LinkedIn really is important. Don’t skip it.
  • Ask for help with you resume – Find a career coach, or a friend who can help. Ask someone with no military experience to read your resume. Find out if they understand what you did. Take their feedback into consideration.
  • Be open to feedback – The process of finding a job completely changed when Monster.com launched in 1999. If you’ve been in the military for a number of years, finding a job is a totally different world than you probably remember. Be willing to listen to feedback and try things outside of your comfort zone. It may be uncomfortable, but it will pay off in the end.
  • Reach out to other veterans – There are many veterans out there who successfully made the transition, and can empathize with the difficult process. Reach out to them for support and assistance during your search.
  • Know that it’s a numbers game – You will not, I repeat, will not get an interview for every job you apply for. You will also not, I repeat, also not get an offer for every interview you have. This is true for everyone. Applying for a job has become a bit of a numbers game. Expect it. It will help to give you realistic expectations.
  • Give yourself a break – Remember, finding a job is a job. And, given the state of our economy and number of other factors, transitioning into your dream corporate job is probably not going to be a fast process. But, don’t stop trying. Don’t assume something is wrong with you. Keep knocking on doors and one will eventually open.

Tomorrow, I’m going to rebroadcast a previous episode of the Copeland Coaching Podcast. It’s an interview I did over the summer with Eric Gates when I visited Austin, Texas. Eric is a Minister at Central Christian Church now, but he is also a veteran. After the military, he spent time working as a police officer. And, he knows first-hand just how hard the transition can be. He shared his experience very candidly with me. It was such an informative and honest episode that I wanted to share it with you again, in honor of Veterans Day. I hope you will enjoy it!

THANK YOU again to our active military and all of the veterans who have made personal sacrifices for everyone!

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

JJ Weir

Author: JJ Weir

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