Make the most of professional recruiters
Your military career might have started the day you sat down to talk with a recruiter. Now, your civilian career just might begin that way as well. Here’s some advice on how to make it happen.
Polish your resume
You want to be ready when a recruiter calls. Take a good look at your military career, including your job skills and responsibilities, your education and professional training, and your accomplishments. Be sure when you write your resume that you are using language a civilian recruiter can understand. (Consider using the Resume Engine tool by Hiring Our Heroes that will create such a resume for you for free: resumeengine.org.) Give them what they need to effectively shop you around. Show your resume to a friend or family member who doesn’t have a military background. If they don’t understand it, keep working.
Define your career goals
There’s a good chance that as you transition into civilian life, you won’t necessarily want to do the same thing you did in the military. You need to do a little research to make sure you understand what career opportunities are available and how they may or may not match the skills you developed in the military. Once you identify a job you are interested in, a recruiter can help you understand what the career path looks like and what experience is needed to qualify. They can make you aware of any training available and connect you with the right opportunities.
If you’re not a member of LinkedIn (linkedin.com), sign up now. It can be a powerful online tool for job seekers in many ways, including finding and interacting with recruiters. You can join groups of veterans, you can follow companies you are interested in working for, and generally you can build a growing network of professional contacts. When you come across a recruiter you think may be able to help with your job search, you can reach out to them on LinkedIn. Don’t be reserved. You may not feel comfortable at first networking on your own behalf, but now’s the time to “toot your own horn” a bit. Remember, recruiters are there to find people to fill available positions. By working to get noticed, you’re actually helping them do their jobs.
To help veterans with their job searches, LinkedIn has created a Veteran Mentor Network (VMN) Group where you can discuss your transition and career plans in a community of veterans. You can also view tips for veterans on how to most effectively use LinkedIn’s services, including LinkedIn’s advanced job search tools. You can get started at veterans.linkedin.com.
Attend career fairs
There’s nothing more effective than a face-to-face meeting, and you have a great opportunity to spend time with recruiters at career fairs. You’re probably aware that recruiters regularly attend fairs on military installations. Recruiters also attend fairs that are held by organizations that support specific occupations and groups—for instance, the National Association of Safety Professionals. Be sure you’re prepared with copies of your resume, plus pens and paper to take notes and write down contact info. Get a fresh haircut before the event, and dress professionally. First impressions are critical.
Prepare your elevator speech
When it comes to recruiters, your job is to show them how their company can leverage your skills. Explain what you want to do with your career. Be able to do this verbally, quickly and effectively. When you have this well practiced, you will do great talking with multiple recruiters at job fairs, and you’ll never be taken by surprise when a recruiter calls. You’ll be able to send short and effective emails in response to a recruiter’s inquiry.
Search for recruiters online
Seek out recruiting firms in your desired industry. They are out there. And quick Google searches can turn up a long list of them. They are all in the business of helping veterans and will be happy to assist you at no cost. Individual companies often have their own recruiters, so be sure to visit the websites of companies you are interested in. Let everyone in your Facebook and Twitter networks know you are actively looking for career opportunities. It may turn out that you are your best recruiter.
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