Separating from the military after years of service can breed career uncertainty, but recruiters reveal veterans are highly sought after by government agencies and contractors.
"In addition to specific job skill sets, veterans bring a diverse variety of soft skills hiring managers like, such as dedication, discipline and teamwork," said Roseal Fowlkes, veteran and disability employment program manager for the Department of Commerce (DOC).
According to Fowlkes, one way for transitioning service members to get access to direct government and contractor positions is by working with a recruiter. Fowlkes says the DOC partners with RecruitMilitary and Hire G.I. and recruits from online career boards USAJobs, LinkedIn and Handshake. Contract recruiters are always eager to recruit veterans, and working as a contractor is a foot in the door of a government agency, she said.
Fowlkes also shared resume advice for disabled veterans and those entering transition, including engaging with bureau Selective Placement Program Coordinators, who recruit and hire veterans with disabilities.
"Be honest. Know what you are looking for in your next job and ensure your resume speaks to transferable skill sets," she said.
Retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. Don Uy manages the Navy C4ISR program for geographic software company Esri, where he has worked as a recruiter.
"Every large company has an HR department recruiter that would love to speak with you and gain insight into how you would best fit that company," he said. "Go directly to the company you are pursuing. If you have specialized training that lends itself to a certain job, speak to that. I also would tell members to not close doors. Leave them open, even if you have no interest in that job, because new ones come open all the time."
Jeremy Wiles, a retired Air Force master sergeant, is currently a training analyst for Ellumen, a health-care/medical IT firm. He said the use of a recruiter is paramount for veterans.
"I was recruited by Ellumen and think it was a blessing. I wouldn't have known about this position without them contacting me," he said.
Wiles also cited his use of LinkedIn for helping to get his resume in front of the right eyes.
Angela Greggs, a 25-year recruiter, the last three with Ellumen, said veterans make stand-out job candidates.
"Veterans exhibit confidence, are excellent communicators, strong on a team and forward-thinking," she said. Greggs, who supports Veterans Affairs, Defense Health Agency, U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, U.S. Air Force Medical and many others, said she uses LinkedIn most followed by Indeed, ClearanceJobs, Monster and Dice.
Wiles, Uy and Greggs all agreed that in addition to online job sites, veteran friends and colleagues who have worked with recruiters can be invaluable in helping with transitions. Networking is a staple in every career field, but veterans have a special bond that means helping each other whenever possible, Greggs said.
"Reach out to others who have transitioned and build a network. ... Referrals are my absolute favorite kind of candidate," she said.
She also noted that service members do not have to wait until they are out of the military to begin networking.
"You can have employment secured before your transition," she said. "I think most recruiters would welcome an opportunity to connect. Send a message through LinkedIn along with your resume, or use your personal contacts to make a connection."
"The recruiter can match you with a job that fits your skill base," said Uy, "instead of just a peg in a hole."
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