Job Search Psychology and How to Help Veterans Get Jobs
Looking for work can be one of the most stressful experiences of all. It’s intimidating to put yourself out there and to set yourself up for possible rejection along the way to finding a job. We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t have to.
So, other than the obvious need to support ourselves and our families, what goes through our minds when making the decision to look for a new job? According to a recent study, 71 percent of people working today are either looking for a different job or are open to the idea of taking on a new career or position.
That tells us that the potential labor force for companies looking to hire new talent is much larger than they may realize. People are either not satisfied with their current job, or they are simply always open to the idea of finding something more rewarding financially or emotionally.
Taking Action for Change
You can always daydream about a new job, but there are certain things that must happen before you change your situation. You might be looking to move upward in your company, so you have to identify goals you need to achieve or the people you need to approach about making that change. It might involve taking a position you don’t like in order to prove your abilities in your desired role.
If it is a change outside your company that you want, you have to make contact with your potential employer. You have to submit a resume and follow up and try to get an interview. All of this has to be done while you are maintaining your responsibilities at your current job and keeping your job search confidential. If you are fortunate enough to get hired, you have to endure the transition phase from your old job to the new one. All these steps can be quite stressful on an individual and their family members.
Searching While Working
This is the most successful method of employment search, as 90 percent of companies hiring would rather choose someone who is already working and demonstrating they can be employable over someone with no job and an uncertainty as to how they would work out.
Job searchers also feel better when they have researched many different companies, even though the process can be so stressful. This way, they at least know what is out there, and will be more confident when they commit to a new employer after having one or more other choices. They feel better having researched the companies and pursuing them themselves rather than having a recruiter find them.
One of the reasons we hesitate or quit looking for work is fear. We tend to focus on the potential failings of our job search more than the potential positive outcomes. Some of us have more reasons to be fearful than others.
Switching From Military to Civilian Employment
Imagine what our armed services veterans go through when they leave the regimented military life and have to enter the private workforce. They have a harder time adjusting to the change and may require assistance from companies, employment services and individuals.
One source of assistance is the G.I. Bill. This was created during World War II and helps provide cash assistance to veterans who want to attend college or trade school. Veterans can receive up to $19,000 per year or have all their in-state tuition and fees covered at a public institution.
In addition to taking advantage of the G.I. Bill, veterans can use their military experience toward college credit. Many colleges and institutions of learning will give veterans credit based on the positions they held during their military experience.
Your military transcript will give a college counselor an idea of what credits you may be eligible for. This could be language training, management responsibilities or maintenance and repair skills. It really depends on the policies of the college and the experience gained in the military. Even a few credits given for military experience can save hundreds of dollars.
Going from military to civilian life will present many challenges, but in other ways, you will have an edge on your competition. You are already naturally disciplined and likely possess better communication skills than civilians. Employers will value the skills you learned in the military as well as the service you have given to the country.
Use your plusses to their advantage and keep your minuses to a minimum. Here are a few things you can do to get a good start on your job search and to make your adjustment less stressful.
1. Present a Unique Resume
Use your military service to help you stand out. Focus on the tasks you accomplished and not so much the titles you had. Also remember, civilians usually do not understand military jargon. Spell out how many people were under your command and the skills you used to manage them. If you were in charge of million- dollar military equipment, be sure to use that to accentuate your responsibilities.
Target your resume for the job you are seeking Much of what you did in your military service will be applicable and beneficial to the workforce. You just have to find a way to let employers know that. For instance, the military uses computers as much as the outside world.
If you are looking for a network administrator position or something with data collection or entry, focus on the tasks you performed with computers and technology when you were in the service. Don’t make your resume a “military resume” per se, but definitely highlight your military experience and make it clear how this experience makes you more prepared and more qualified than other applicants.
2. Network and Get the Word Out
You can find jobs in the newspaper, online, from word-of-mouth and job boards. Multiple companies will join together and host job fairs at hotels and banquet halls. Share your job search on Facebook and join networking sites liked LinkedIn to connect with prospective employers.
Take advantage of the companies that are specifically targeting veterans and trying to help them get employment. There are many people who want to reward you for your service by helping you when you return. An online search should yield many results.
3. Shine in Your Interview
Your military service has probably given you confidence, but a job interview can still be intimidating. Practice with a friend and prepare yourself for anticipated questions. Study the company and make notes that will help you explain what qualities you would bring to the company.
Tailor your language to avoid as much military speak as you can. Some may find it charming, but some words may simply not be understood. Always dress a little nicer than you might think the job requires. You will never go wrong wearing a shirt and tie or even a suit. Be proud of your military service but also be prepared to explain how that service will make you a better choice than the next interviewee.
Depending on your specific experience, military careers can translate into many lucrative civilian jobs. Computer programming and software development, airline pilot or ship captain could be new roles for you. Jobs managing people or dealing with telecommunication installation and repair are always needed. Heavy machinery maintenance and repair is not a skill most people have.
4. Starting a New Job
Be prepared for a big change as far as chain of command. In the military, it is clear who is in charge. In civilian jobs, you may have several bosses. People aren’t nearly as direct as they are in the military. You may find yourself confused about what your duties are or where you stand with certain departments or superiors. Don’t despair. The rest of us go through it throughout our careers, too.
The good side of that is you will find greater flexibility and understanding in civilian life. You may be able to work from home or change your schedule. Taking time off to be with your family will be much less of an undertaking as it may have been in the military.
5. Be Patient With Your Adjustment
It isn’t easy transitioning from military to civilian employment. Be patient with the change and realize it will take an adjustment period. People are rooting for you to do well and they want to help you. You don’t have to shed your military mindset, but you do have to retool it into a new way of thinking. Things don’t get done in the corporate world by barking out orders. It requires the same tenacity but maybe more finesse, which may take some work.
Hopefully, your company will have other employees who were in the military so you can help each other and commiserate. Some companies have military liaisons if their work is closely associated with the military. You need to work as hard as you did before, just in a different way. Corporate America needs to show its gratitude for your service by helping you to be the best employee you can be.