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April 17, 2012

Career Advice for Veterans

Career Advice for Veterans

Written by Mirza Tihic, IVMF Director of Employment Programs

As anyone that has ever researched the topic online, we see that there are a great number of sites and blogs that provide career advice for veterans.  Some are vague, some can be very detailed and lengthy, and some are simply lost in the middle of the ads surrounding the blog.

In such a complex landscape as this, it is quite easy for the veteran to become lost or confused.  Which ones can be trusted?  Which sites contain viable, researched information?  What should I avoid?  These are just a few questions that arise in the minds of veterans as they search through the sites.

To combat the confusion that arises for the site-searching veterans, I have consolidated a number of the topics and issues that are addressed – and addressed properly – in many of the viable web sites providing career advice for vets.

Below, I list and discuss the eight most-common tips of advice for veterans:

1)      First, prepare thoroughly for the civilian job market:

–       Fine tune your resume, your personal presentation, and set up your social media sites to be job-friendly/job-ready (i.e. LinkedIn, FaceBook).

–       Emphasize your unique qualities. From your resume to the interview, and even the thank-you letter, highlight attributes employers look for in members of the armed forces.  A recent survey by Harris Interactive on (behalf of showed that companies consider the following to be among the most important qualities of a new hire: Disciplined approach to work, ability to work as a team, respect and integrity, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, and ability to perform under pressure. [1]

2)      Figure out what you’d like to do, and who you’d like to work for. Pick your target.

3)     Once you’ve identified a company and jobs of interest, start networking.  40-70% of jobs are found and filled through personal contacts [2]. Leverage your military networks, family, friends, neighbors, and community members. Reach out to them, and let them know what you are looking for and how you create value.

4)     Reach out to companies that you would like to work for, and network even if there are no job openings. Develop a relationship, and stress how your talents and skills can add to the bottom line of the company.

5)     Explore working for government contractors. If you have dealt with government contractors while in the military, you add value to the government with your inside knowledge of the team, methods of their operation, buying/purchasing process, etc.

6)     Since President Obama has created a new program to hire more vets into the federal government, consider identifying jobs within the government that match your talents, skills, and experiences. Learn more about Veterans Preference Programs [3], and again reach out to your networks.

7)     Explore and consider entrepreneurship as your employment path: 27% of veterans are self-employed, according to the SBA. The SBA also estimates that currently 20% of veterans are looking to start, purchase, or partner in small business start-up. [4]

8)     Leverage the Veteran GI Bill Apprenticeship and OJT Program to get a foot in the industry, gain certifications, and network [5].

By keeping these eight guidelines in mind, veterans can more-easily identify workplaces and careers better suited for them.  Beginning a post-military career search with this basic knowledge is crucial for one’s success, and hopefully, it can help veterans find gratification in their careers following their service to our nation.

Mirza Tihic is the director of employment programs at IVMF, where he works on initiatives that provide resources and support for veterans and their families.

[4] Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau Provides First-Ever Look at Veteran Business Ownership, Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc. May 17, 2011


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