In 2023, a veteran (or spouse) needs to find their next job fast -- or even faster. But when the military’s official transition program is riddled with issues, it can feel like you are on your own to learn the job hunt skills you need most.
As Military.com’s transition master coach, I know your need is great, but your available time is not. I put together a carefully curated collection of the best tips, instructions and master classes for your 2023 job hunt by category. I have included all the live links, so that you can just click your way to happiness. (Find out about how our FREE master classes work.)
Whether you are just starting to figure out what civilian job you are qualified to do or you are deep into salary negotiation, here are the strategies that really work for the thousands of veterans, spouses and transitioning military we helped this year.
Discover your new career path
What kind of job are you looking for after the military? Articulating exactly what you want to do post-military is no easy task.
First you start with the dream -- meaningful work. Our 5 steps to meaningful work after the military will get you started in the right direction. If your dream is to work from home at least some of the time, our veteran’s guide to finding flexible work will help you find remote, hybrid, telework or truly flexible work.
Which is all well and good. Then, you will need to do a cold hard reality check (which is neither cold nor hard, but I like to give you a little zing). Our exclusive shortcut will help you identify which jobs are really possible for someone your age, at your rank, from your service branch, with your skills.
Finally, sign up for our upcoming transition master class “How to Land Your Dream Job.” In just one hour, I’ll teach a step-by-step method to classify your work skills, experience and personality preferences so you apply for the jobs that offer the most personal satisfaction for you.
Beat the Head Games
Fear, procrastination and anxiety are all a part of the veteran and spouse job hunt. Just because they are normal does not mean that you must suffer through a lingering case of a bad head game all winter long.
So learn to stop telling yourself terrifying transition lies by identifying what they are. Then, I’ll teach you how to quiet your perfectionism, quit overwhelming yourself, and generally avoid shoulding all over the place. Finally, I’m going to reveal the cannibals that devour your transition time depending on your career level so you can be a highly successful veteran job hunter.
Find Top Veteran Employers
I am always telling you how you need to find an employer with a military door -- someone with a robust history of hiring veterans. So this year, the team at the Veteran Employment Project put together our exclusive list of 25 top veteran employers and the mind-blowing things you can expect top veteran employers to do.
Naturally, the list is full of defense contractors, federal agencies and civilian employers who are looking for your security clearance. Those are not the only employers with a military door, though.
To help you find those less-obvious employers quickly, our master class “Veteran Friendly Employers You Don’t Know Yet” gives you detailed instructions about how to break into these non-defense employers who are most likely to hire you. As a bonus to watching the class, you can download our time-saving list of employers with a military door based on your state.
Tech Jobs for Veterans and Spouses
When the Computing Technology Industry Association reports that there are 3.9 million tech occupation job openings in the United States, and that the median wage for tech occupations is nearly twice the median national wage, we military folks pay attention -- even if we are not currently working in a tech job.
This year, we looked at how to get a job in tech without a tech background. To make sure you are not heading down the wrong path, we identified the 7 sure signs you are smart enough to get a job in tech. Then we explored Transition Overwatch, a new free program that helps you figure out exactly where you belong in the tech world, gives you the skills you need and connects you with an apprenticeship with a real employer.
Networking for Introverts (and Extroverts)
You probably already know that you cannot expect to just apply online and get picked up for an interview, no matter how good-looking you are. While top employers with a military door have already set up a pseudo network for you in the shape of a veteran recruiter, that may not be enough to hire you.
Most civilian companies have a secret demand for some kind of trust marker to be presented before they let you in the door. Which means you need to do a little networking -- not guru-level networking, just a little done at the right time.
Our master class “Networking Without Awkwardness” will let you in on the normal things military people are expected to do during the job hunt when it comes to networking. Introverts please note: You will be surprised how many of these things do not include talking to total strangers but still yield the best results.
Easy Resumes and Cover Letters that Work
Now -- and only now -- are you ready to put together a resume. If you try to write your resume before you start networking or finding likely employers, you will discover you put together a resume that can’t get past the gates hiring managers put up against you.
Even worse, you may find that you civilianized your resume so much that no one can understand your experience. There are rules to civilianizing your resume.
Learn how to get someone to read your resume and move you to the next level. Then, follow our clear guidelines for writing the specialized resume you need for each kind of job. Each class comes with a bonus link to a free resume template that makes everything even easier for you.
- Corporate: The Checklist Resume
- Spouse Employment: Reverse Resume for Spouses
- Federal Employment: The Federal Resume
Finally, understand the place of the archaic cover letter in the current job market and learn to do exactly what is required in our Ultimate Guide to Easy Cover Letters.
You know you nailed the networking and the resume when you get an invitation to interview. No matter how gifted you are as a public speaker, or how easy it is for you to come up with the right thing to say in your daily job, know this when it comes to job interviews: You can’t wing it.
You have to know what is coming, and you have to prepare and practice. Our FREE masterclass for interview skills will give you the A to Z about what you need to know in just 60 minutes.
If you don’t have that much time to prepare, click on our tips for last minute preppers:
- 9 Last Minute Interview Prep Tips
- How to Answer (Not Avoid) the Diversity Question
- 99 Interview Questions to Help Veterans and Spouses Get the Job
- Top 10 Wardrobe Fails That Make Military Men Look Silly
- Female Veterans: What to Wear to Rock Your Interview
Negotiate Your Salary and Benefits and Finances
To my way of thinking, veterans should be able to burst in on a civilian employer and shout, “Show me the money!” Funny how civilian employers do not see it that way.
Instead, employers expect you to already know how to negotiate the job offer so you get the biggest paycheck ever. What employers don’t seem to know is that transitioning military members don’t know a lot about the civilian money process since you never had to deal with it before. So I developed this method of actively working against the money sucking lies our brains tell us about salary negotiation. Every 10 grand helps.
Negotiating for a new salary isn’t everything though. You do need to be a little more crafty when it comes to learning the best way to handle money during military transition -- including decisions about your TSP (thrift savings plan), your SBP (survivor benefit plan) and your current mortgage.
Since so few military members actually have a job waiting for them when they leave the military, you will likely go through a period where money is hard to come by. Our 13 Ways to Get More Money for Transition can help you through.
In 2023, you will probably be going from the military, to the transition world, to your next high-impact civilian job. At the Veteran Employment Project, we are honored to be part of your team with our articles, newsletter, master classes and free coaching. We can’t wait to connect with you over the coming year to bring you all the best strategies we can find.
-- Jacey Eckhart is Military.com's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website SeniorMilitaryTransition.com. Reach her at Jacey.Eckhart@Monster.com.
Find Your Next Job Fast
Transitioning military, veterans and spouses may be qualified for the job, but they are missing the secrets of civilian hiring. Find out everything you need to know with our FREE master class series including our next class You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.