You’ve been out of the civilian job market for some time now. Things have changed. There is a lot to learn about job searching, career opportunities and the best way to communicate your abilities to potential employers. Understanding the job market is understanding the process. Does it seem the job market is well structured? Conducive to dispensing the information and assistance you need? Soon, you will find out that it is in fact, not.
There is a great misunderstanding how military members relate to the job market. Organizing and implementing key processes into your search is what will help you succeed. The following myths and their corresponding realities translate into how you can break through the age-old excuse of “What more can I do?”
MYTH #1: My former military job has little civilian compatibility.
TRUTH: You can maximize you service and experience for all it is worth, but communicate that you have moved on from the military. If you are about to ETS, odds are you have leadership experience of some kind. Few civilian employers care about how well you did in BNCOC, or that you have held a PT patch for 2 years in a row. Use the knowledge that you have acquired to communicate in a relatable tone that you are enthusiastic, honest and intelligent. Experience and qualifications rank below these traits among hiring criteria; why make them more confusing? Stick to the basic, relative attributes.
MYTH #2: Whoever offers me the most money is who I should choose.
TRUTH: Although money is going to be a concern in which you should prepare for, this does not mean the job that pays the most money is what you will enjoy. Is the amount of the paycheck enough to keep you happy 8 hours a day, 5 days a week? Take the time to think about the advantages and disadvantages of each offer. Select the one that best fits your skills, interests and abilities. Odds are, if you choose a job that makes you miserable, you will repeat the process again after only a short period of time.
MYTH #3: There aren’t any jobs left for me with today’s competition.
TRUTH: This is only true if you completely lack any sort of marketable skill and rely on responding to classified ads or use temp agencies. Yes, competition is high, particularly for jobs that take little-to-no skill. Hidden job markets contain numerous opportunities with less competition. Aim high, but realistically. You will find the most competition as at the middle and low-level jobs. If you have a specialized, advanced technical skill your opportunities are endless. If you are interested in a specific skill, talk to an educational counselor and identify the benefits you qualify for.
MYTH #4: Unless I get an education, I won’t get a good job.
TRUTH: A college degree may give you an advantage over the competition, but the door will most certainly not be closed to you. Employers are always looking for motivated “go-getters” that work diligently and help them grow their business. In reality, many employers prefer military personnel due to their reputation for dedication, responsibility and getting the job done. Show how you have benefited from your experience, discipline and strong sense of ethics. I strongly encourage you to pursue a degree in the future; in fact, many employers partially fund the cost of their employees’ continuing education.
MYTH #5: Anyone can find a job if they know how.
TRUTH: As much as we wish this were true; the career counselors in our young age pumped us up with the ideals that positive attitudes, goal-setting, and dressing up meant success, right? Wrong. This may work in a low unemployment society where the demand for quality people is high, but not in today’s high-tech society that requires intelligence, concrete skills, willingness and something unique to offer the community to help advance growth. Knowing job search skills does not help these people.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Every time a company hires someone, they are taking a risk. Often, they make bad hiring decisions. You must convince your prospective employers that they will like you more than other “qualified” candidates. Your task, is to prove to them that YOU are the reason they are going to avoid making a bad decision this time.