Veterans in the Workplace: Increasing your Employability
You have finished your years of service in the armed forces and now it's time to jump into the workforce, but all the skills you have accumulated in the last few years don't entirely help your resume stand out. Identifying your areas of improvement can be important, so here are 5 things to do to help boost your employability.
Grow Your Soft Skills
Soft skills are the skills that enable you to fit in at a workplace and are more than likely to be obtained from everyday life experiences. You might have realized that the military lifestyle may not translate into gaining a ton of soft skills. Soft skills might include listening, storytelling, resourcefulness, delegation, mentoring, or enthusiasm. Even though these skills are built over time, you can still work to improve them. Ask for feedback from friends or past colleagues, this can help you learn your growth opportunities better. You can also choose to take an online course on topics such as negotiation, leadership, or emotional intelligence to help you with your soft skills. Depending on the course, you can choose from different interactive situations that help you learn how to utilize said skill(s).
Get a Hobby
Life isn't all work and no play. Having a hobby outside of work is proven to help you with your career and you might have already picked one up while you were in the military. Hobbies can help you develop skills and a network. For example, a hobby like crocheting can help build patience. Joining a soccer team improves physical health and reduces stress. Getting involved in a book club can help with communication skills and critical thinking. Find something that interests you and run with it. A hobby will help in the long run with your employability and your work/life balance.
Further Your Education
Knowledge is power, right? Being in the military makes you versatile and having to change locations quickly might have been a way of life for you. since you are accustomed to change, furthering your education might not be a hard decision to make. If you have goals to be in business management then a leadership and development course would be a perfect way to level up those skills. Having a growth mindset can not only help you land the job of your choice, it also help you grow as an individual. Furthering your education is a great way to help bulk your resume with industry-specific certifications and these certifications can provide you with credibility.
Build Your Network
We touched on this a bit when we spoke about getting a hobby, but building your network deserves its own explanation. In a ever-growing virtual world, growing your network can really help you with landing a job. A 2020 study showed that 90% of employers factor in social media content in hiring decisions. You can start growing your network by getting in touch with people you served with and continue from there. Growing your network is critical and social media, like all technology, is evolving, so understanding how it all works can be vital! Find out how you can Leverage LinkedIn by registering for our free webinar here.
Prepare for Different Types of Interviews
Resumes get you in the door, interviews get you the job. There are 3 main avenues of interviewing: video, phone, and in-person. Knowing how to navigate each one can be helpful to being successful no matter the type.
If your interview is a video call, make sure to adjust your camera and lighting accordingly. No one wants to see a shadow on the other side of the screen. Practice opening a similar video call with a friend to ensure you are familiar on what link you should click and see what is in your shot.
For phone interviews find a quiet place you think would be perfect for phone calls without distractions. Some helpful things to practice for a phone interview would be calling someone to determine how loudly you are speaking, if there is any background noise that can be overheard, and if you need to speed up or slow down when you speak. Having notes for phone interviews can be a huge help to making sure you stay on track.
With in-person interviews, find out the normal dress attire to make sure you have that ready for the day of. Practice holding eye contact and body language, remember non-verbal queues can speak louder than your words in some cases. This might be a bit of a no brainer but know where you are going, plug in the address of the interview location into your GPS and see how long it might take to get there so you can plan for the day of. No one wants to get lost the day of an interview. Allow yourself enough time to get there a bit early even if you happened to get turned around. Timeliness can make or break a first impression.
If you have more questions on how to interview, start by checking out our blog post "A Veteran's Guide to Interview Questions," where we break down the do's and don'ts of interviewing for civilian job positions.
Increasing your employability after serving your country isn't impossible. In some cases it can be pretty enjoyable! You have an opportunity to learn more about yourself and possibly get back in touch with people you haven't see or heard from since you served. You can be successful in the civilian workforce, it just takes a little bit of growth; after all, plants needs sunshine and water to bear fruit.