Job hunting can seem like hunting snipe. Often, it makes all the difference in the world to know where to start. Back in the day, a newspaper, and some shoe-leather, usually got the job done. These days it takes a bit of savvy. And if there’s one thing that vets have, it’s savvy.
First, Start With What You Know
Vets know two things. They know what they know, and they know what they like. In the best of all possible worlds, those two things are the same.
If you’ve decided to find employment in the civilian sector that is commiserate with your military training, and experience, then the best approach is to simply search for the civilian equivalent of your specialty on web sites such as Monster.com, and CareerSearch.com. The chances are that you’re going to find a civilian equivalent to your specialty. Worst case, you’ll get close. Typically, you’ll find enough approximate matches that, after identifying yourself as a vet, you’ll be able to play one prospective employer off another untll you max out the offerings for your desired position. Everybody is looking for vets. Everybody.
If you’ve decided to find employment outside your specialty, and go with what you like instead of what you know, your best bet is to contact corporations that are known to be interested in providing vets with services that provide entry level positions to vets outside their specialties. There’s more of those than you may be aware. We listed a few of the very best in an earlier article, but, if you missed it, you can find many more of them by running a search for something like “vet friendly corporations.” You’ll be amazed at how many there are, how desperate they are to hire vets, and to what lengths they’ll go to in an effort to snag as many vets as they can.
Second, Pick An Income
This may be harder than it seems at first. How much a vet makes, and how quickly he goes to work as a civilian, often depends on how much time he’s already spent in getting trained, and how much more time he’s willing to spend. Vets’ median pay is higher than the median pay for civilians. That’s not to change any time soon due to the high demand for vets. If you’re willing to spend more time being trained, you may need to start out at a lower pay scale than you like because training costs money, and in civilian life, employers like to make that cost back by reducing the pay you make during the time it takes to train you. Say you’re an HVAC specialist, and you’d like to apprentice as a Union Plumber. Odds are that, during your apprenticeship, you’re going to make something less than you might make right off the bat as a HVAC professional. On the upside, Union Plumbers, after their apprenticeship, earn in exces of $60,000 a year.
Apprenticeship programs are a great way to advance in the civilian marketplace, and the programs available through the GI Bill are a phenomenal way to get started. Similarly, if you can manage your way through higher education on your veteran benefits, your prospects are substantially enriched in the future, but a bit constrained immediately post-service. How much you need to make can help dictate your employment strategy. The GI Bill, as a form of employment, is one of the easiest ways to secure a job, and its value increases geometrically as you progress.
Third, Visit Sites Dedicated Specifically To Helping Vets Find Employment
There are many sites on the web that have sprung up in the last few years dedicated solely to helping vets find employment. Employers noticed a few years ago that despite their desire, and real need, for vets that they just weren’t connecting with them, and jobs vets could fill best were going unfilled. The frustration vets were feeling at the difficulty they were having finding employment was mirrored by employers frustration at being unable to fill positions they wanted vets to fill.
Fourth, Remember Uncle Sam Still Wants You
Are you aware that veteran preference gives you an advantage over all other applicants for Federal employment in both appointed and excepted openings?1If you’re a recently separated vet, you can be appointed to any grade up to GS-11 without competition under what’s known as “Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment.”2 In addition, the “President’s Veterans Employment Initiative” brought together all the resources concerning Federal employment for vets on its web site at https://www.usajobs.gov/Veterans. The “Veterans’ Employment and Training Service” (VETS) through the Department of Labor3 allocates funds to State Workforce Agencies to help secure State employment for veterans on a non-competitive basis. The “Veterans’ Employment Opportunities Act” makes it a crime to ignore these preferences. 4 Uncle Sam knows what he’s losing. He’s trying to keep you for as long as he can in any capacity, and he’s willing to pay you very well for the privilege.
Fifth (And Best), Talk To Employed Vets
Once an employer has connected with a vet, the employer is going to be very well disposed toward other vets. The one reason that the median pay for vets is higher than non-vets is the recognition among employers that veterans are worth more. It’s that simple. Ask other vets where they work. Go there. You’ll be welcomed with open arms.
The difficulty that vets have had in the past connecting with employers is coming to a rapid end. Vets are in demand, and its the employers doing the demanding.