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VOL. 130 | NO. 217 | Friday, November 6, 2015

Angela Copeland

Careers for Veterans

By Angela Copeland

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Veterans Day is the official holiday honoring our U.S. Armed Forces, I feel thankful to live in a country where so many men and women voluntarily serve and put themselves in harm’s way for the better good of everyone.

But life after the military isn’t always easy. Never before have I felt more aware of the challenges veterans face after their years of dedicated service. Working with and interviewing veterans has truly broadened my perspective.

The process of leaving the service and finding full-time employment in the civilian world is a jarring experience at best. It can test a person to their core and open up insecurities they never knew they had. From what I’ve been told, the career transition services offered to veterans are often not robust enough to truly give them all of the support they need. Additionally, before leaving the military, many have been told that finding a good job will be easy, so their expectations are not always aligned with the reality they later experience.

A veteran’s resume can read like a foreign language to a corporate hiring manager. The manager may not understand their background well enough to know whether or not they’d be a good addition to the team. Protocols and customs are different too. Veterans can no longer look at someone’s attire and immediately know their career status or rank. And many military members feel judged negatively by potential employers. Despite many corporations endorsing their practice to hire veterans, many don’t find this to be their reality.

One of the most important things a veteran can do during this potentially difficult time is to reach out for assistance. Non-military loved ones can help to provide support. It could be something as simple as giving resume feedback and helping the veteran to update the wording so that it’s more understandable to civilians. Loved ones can also help to facilitate networking introductions.

It’s important to recognize that very few jobs are landed through online job postings. Applying online only can often create a vicious cycle, leaving the veteran wondering what it is about them the hiring manager doesn’t like. The frustration becomes very personal. But, when you apply online, very few real people ever view your resume. Most jobs are found through networking introductions or existing connections. It is important to focus a job search on creating new connections, rather than simply applying online.

When deciding on what to apply for, veterans should consider future roles that utilize their previous skillset. This could be a job that involves a specialized technology, leadership, or knowledge of the government or security. Many former military members have found success transitioning into roles within the police force or fire safety. Others find their niche as an entrepreneur. Companies such as ServiceMaster offer programs that help veterans purchase franchise businesses.

The most important thing to remember is that a job search takes time – and finding a job is a job in itself. Best of luck and Happy Veterans Day!

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com.

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