The Guide to Coming Home

When applying for jobs, use your military experience, but don't rely on it

Posted at 3:51 PM on February 8, 2010 by Molly Bloom
Filed under: Employment

From Ross Holtan, Minneapolis, MN
Left the army as a Specialist (E-4). Was stationed in Germany with the First Infantry Division. Deployed to both Kosovo and Iraq.

Finding a job right now -- anywhere -- is difficult.

As a recently returned soldier, you have a leg up on the rest of the labor force. Use it. Whether you're looking for a temporary position to hold you over, or if you're looking to jump back into your career, your personal and professional contacts will be your best help. Spread the word around that you're back. Ask your friends and family to drop your name to their bosses. This is another great opportunity to meet professionals in your field.

Call an employer and ask for an "information interview." Tell them you are a recently returned vet looking for information about their field. This gets you in the door, meeting the bosses without the pressure of interviewing for a position. If you make a good impression they will remember you when a position does open.

Using your experience to get in the door is one thing, but translating your military positions into civilian language is tough. Tell them you're a leader, responsible, motivated and work well with people. Make sure you quantify how many briefings or PowerPoints you did each week. Tell them how valuable the equipment was that you were signed for. Tell them how many people worked for you. Tell them how many hours you worked each week. They'll be impressed. Find a way to simply apply what you did in Iraq to everyday civilian work.

February 2010
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