So many veterans are struggling with finding a job and getting hired after leaving the service. It isn’t so much the economy to blame, but the mistakes veterans make during the job hunt. You could have the greatest resume that properly highlights your skills and experience, but landing a job is more than just the resume.
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I’ve already talked about why your resume isn’t working for you – The Military Resume – Why Veterans Struggle with Landing a Job. Your resume is only the first step in getting noticed by an employer. So many other factors go into the decision for an employer to call you in for an interview. Now let’s look at the other mistakes veterans make during the job hunt that results in not getting called for interviews.
When I worked as a veteran employment specialist, the first thing I checked on a resume before even looking at the content was their email address. While “email@example.com” might be funny for your personal emails, to the prospective employer it is the first glimpse of you on a personal level. I’ve seen some pretty colorful email addresses paste right smack in the middle at the top of the resume – WRONG!! I’m guilty of this myself when I first got out. My email was “partygalxxx@…” I was clueless on what employers actually look at. I recommend you create a second email account with Yahoo or Gmail to use specifically for your job hunting. Proper format or name should be along the lines “JohnDoe@…” or “John.Doe123@…” Employers don’t want cute, they want professional so CLEAN IT UP!!
How many of you have your phones set to play a song instead of the “ring” for the caller? What I’m referring to is when you call someone and instead of hearing the standard “ring…ring…” a song or music might play. This is very distracting and often you aren’t able to tell if it has gone to voicemail. Now is not the time for cute ringtones and stuff like that. Your phone is your primary means of communicating with a prospective employer so CLEAN IT UP!!
Of all the mistakes veterans make during the job hunt, their voicemail message is probably the most irritating. “Yo, leave me a message and I might call you back” is definitely bad for business. So is having any “colorful” or foul language in your message. I would have veterans call me saying that I never called them back on this or that. Well, I told them up front to fix their voicemails and they didn’t. If I called to schedule an appointment with them and got their voicemail with a colorful message, I would simply hang up before leaving a message. Why? Because that’s exactly what an employer will do. You are an adult now so start acting like it and CLEAN IT UP!!
Standard voicemail should be “Hi, you’ve reached (your name). Sorry I missed your call. Please leave your phone number and a brief message and I’ll call you back as soon as possible” or something along those lines. Don’t say you are in the shower or walking your dogs, or “getting freaky with my girl” – yes I actually had a veteran with that on his voicemail message! Simple and professional.
Social media is a wonderful tool when used properly. Unfortunately, it gives a vivid picture of who we are and what we represent as a person. It is also a place that employers now go to get some background “intel” on prospective employees. Just “Google” your name and see what comes up! I’m sure you’ve seen news reports about employees being terminated for not giving their employer access to their social media accounts. In the military, you were expected to uphold the highest standards in or out of uniform. People see you and how you act or portray yourself and associated that with the military. It is the same with civilian employers. How you act and the things you do can directly impact an organization. Employers don’t want to hire people that have a slideshow of “stupid drunk” pics or seem only speak with F-bombs and Biatch on their Facebook pages.
If your social media presence has typically been like what I described, it’s not too late to clean it up. You may want to even delete your profile altogether and create a new one. And don’t even think about taking the approach of “this is my personal life and I don’t have to share it with my boss.” I mean, you CAN do that, but you CAN also stay unemployed. Start cleaning up ALL of your social media accounts now. This includes Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Oh, and don’t think SnapChat is off limits. You never know who is on your list that may work for a company you are trying to get hired with. I have known of someone taking a snapshot of a SnapChat pic before it disappeared, then showing it to HR (they were competing for the same job). Just be an adult and CLEAN IT UP!!
One last note on social media – Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or whatever, do not think you can be like President Trump and say how you really feel about a person! I love his style, but HIS style is NOT going to get YOU hired! If you had a bad experience with a previous employer or during an interview recently with a prospective employer DO NOT – I repeat – DO NOT go to social media to rant and disparage that employer! If things didn’t go your way, suck it the hell up and move along to the next job. What you say on social media is pretty much a permanent record!
I know that the transition to civilian life can be overwhelming and stressful. Just take the time to learn the “employment game” and you will do well. A note of advice – don’t listen to all the Sea Lawyers out there – get advice from those who actually work or have worked in the field (such as myself). There are lots of programs out there to help you if you just take advantage of them. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out The Military Resume – Why Veterans Struggle with Landing a Job for tips on writing your military resume. Also, check out Veteran Employment – Make Money as a Military or Veteran Blogger to see how blogging could be your next employment adventure. My medical issues prevented me from maintaining a “regular job” and now I blog full-time and earn a pretty penny. Like I said – lots of options and resources to help you get through the transition!
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