Top Five Things Every Veteran Should Know to Succeed in the Civilian World

questionmarkCivilians leave their jobs to pursue bigger, better opportunities. Civilians give two-week notices. Civilians promote human resource initiatives that improve job quality, better wages, better benefits, and advancement opportunity. Does this sound stressful or intimidating? Contrary to the military career, there are no two-week notices, no uncomfortable feeling when you explain why you are moving on, and no feelings of betrayal. No emotions or fear in the way, holding you back from bigger or better opportunities. Advantage: YOU. Now, what do you need to know to capitalize on these opportunities?

1. How to Network

This is about developing legitimate, commonality-based connections with people of value.  Every day, there is more and more reason to become an expert at developing relationships with other people.  Networking is no longer just a handshake and a business card.  The online world has revolutionized the way we communicate with each other.  Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn have become the best way to meet colleagues, learn more about potential employers and get info about job opportunities.  There are countless social networking sites, many tailored to an exact industry.  Some sites even offer offline forums to allow you to talk shop, put faces to names and really develop deeper connections.

2.  How to Improve Your Visibility

No, this does not mean stand on the street corner with a neon sign that says “Look at me!”  At least not literally.  This is about who your potential employer sees (or doesn’t see) when they type your name into Google.  Have you done this about yourself yet?  If not, you should.  What comes up?  Nothing?  Pictures of you from high school holding a beer bong on FacebookRecent studies show that 45% of employers investigate online presence of potential employees. The goal here is not to erase your existence; the idea is to provide supplemental, professional information to your employer they cannot gather from a one page resume. Make sure you are Google-able, but bear in mind how you want to be seen.  Verify your information for accuracy and consistency.

3.  How to Target Opportunities

The information age allows us to access details, narrow searches and hone in on exactly what we are looking for.  This applies to your job search as well.  Are you qualified for a job that pays over $100K annual salary?  Find your opportunity at The Ladders.  Google and Twitter are powerful tools that allow you advanced search options, which can provide an opportunity for you to narrow your search to specific positions in a given geographic area.

4.  How to Maximize Resources

Are you spending all of your time in the “Help Wanted” section of the local newspaper?  Are you checking in every day at your local temp agency?  If you answered yes, your time is not being well spent.  As these may be mediocre resources, the maximum amount of overall time you should be spending with them is 20%.  Advertised positions compose only a small portion of the actual openings in the U.S.  Your time should be spent connecting with decision-makers, finding a way to connect with those who can influence the decision-makers and positioning yourself to meet decision-makers.

5.  How to Continue Learning

Professional learning, conference attendance and continuing education not only help you stay on top of the changes occurring in your particular field but can also provide an opportunity to enchance your network.  Reading and researching enriches your professional and personal growth, can help you maintain a positive attitude while staying current in your field and expanding your base of knowledge.  Employers look for this trait in potential employees; not only will it improve the way you are viewed but also give you topics to discuss with others in your field.

Beginning the job search process can be strenuous and frustrating, but there are ways to simplify the process; embrace your passion and soon you will be on your way to landing your dream job in the civilian world!

Want to learn more about using these tools?
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Former Combat Infantryman (OEF, OIF2) turned business and finance professional. Advocate for fellow veterans in the struggle to find careers when they leave the service. Someone once asked me how I did it so easily. "Easily?" Going from gunshots and explosions to school and business was most certainly not "easy." That was when I was encouraged to tell my story and why, since then, I have made my mission to not only help those in the same struggle succeed, but raise awareness and gather support.

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