Revamping Your Job Search: Veterans Edition

Veterans Edition:

*Sings Cadence*

“I don’t know why I left, but I left on my own, and it won’t be long, til I, til I, til I get on back home”

But what happens when you get home? You’ve been on deployments, you’ve served your country, you’ve moved your family around and you get home, and you’re stumped. When I got back home from Iraq in 2010, I just knew it would be easy for me to find a job. I started my job search about 2 months before I returned. I even had some phone interviews using my magic jack (How funny is that). However, when I landed back on U.S soil, I was still not prepared for the job searching road ahead of me.

I applied for numerous positions. Didn’t it mean something that I was a veteran? That I managed to survive life overseas? Didn’t it mean something that I made it back home safely and so did the rest of my company? Like some other veterans I know, I felt defeated. I felt discouraged and I felt that the last 8 years of my life were for nothing. I experienced some tough times obtaining employment after serving.

But here are some helpful tips I learned.

  1. Translating my experience on paper

Military personnel have some very unique experience. Coupled with being a serviceman, there is also something unique about the technical expertise you gain in the military. No matter how applicable you think your experience is, it’s hard to convey if you cannot translate it. Often times, we have done so much, articulating that experience proves to be more difficult than a 12 mile road march with a 50 pound ruck sack. During my job search, a helpful resource I used was the Military Crosswalk Search sponsored by This site allows you to select your branch along with your MOS/MOC (Military Occupational Classification/Specialty) and it will translate your experience. It removes the jargon and articulates your experience in way civilian employers understand.

       2. Translating my experience in person

It’s not enough to just prepare a good resume. You have to be able to present your experience in way that employers can relate. Take my experience for example. I was an E5, 42A in the Army. If you know anything about the S-1 shop, then you know that these folks handle the mail, awards, NCOERS, sexual harassment, training, retention, strength management, transitions, legal, soldier support and so much more. In the civilian sector however, I had to reorganize how       I articulated this experience. It wasn’t enough to just say that I was a jack of all trades. I needed to organize so that it aligned and easily translated into those civilian duties

3. Building a network

Today’s workforce is the poster child for networking. The experience and service alone is not  enough. Your network could be made up of companies you meet at hiring events, battles that have transitioned before and much more. Don’t neglect this very important step in your jobsearch. Who you know may not always land you a position, but it’s very beneficial to have a network you can reach out to during your job search.

Before I Go: Is this the first time we’ve met? If so, thanks for reading this article, share with a friend and I’d love to connect! I’m Cari Hawthorne, a proud Army veteran and HR professional who enjoys everything about helping others with their careers. Do you have any thoughts on developing soft skills? I’d love to hear from you.