It is estimated that up to 70% of all jobs are never published on a job board, and up to 80% of jobs are filled through networking. In today’s challenging jobs market, that means one of the most valuable resources for a job seeker is their network.
From career coaching, to resume help, to connecting veterans with potential job opportunities, there are countless people, government resources and nonprofit organizations looking to help them excel in civilian life. While it may push them out of their comfort zones at times, veterans transitioning out of service or looking to advance their civilian careers should fully utilize their existing network and seek out new networking opportunities to help find a rewarding career path.
Networking can be challenging for even the most extraverted people, and it may feel unnatural for veterans to promote their achievements or discuss their experience with those who may not fully understand their service. While the concept of networking may have seemed unnecessary in the military, it is of the utmost importance within the civilian world to get connected to the right opportunities.
Here are a few simple, yet effective ways veterans can expand their network:
Utilize veteran transition assistance programs.
While many veterans are likely familiar with services such as Wounded Warrior Project and USO for their assistance with anything from mental and physical wellness initiatives to career and VA benefits counseling and more, there are many more organizations that also offer unique services to veterans, including networking opportunities.
Organizations offering free transition assistance programs, mentorships, career counseling, networking events, seminars and other resources for veterans include:
Consider also maximizing available veteran educational and training benefits by continuing education, such as earning an associates or bachelor’s degree or going back to school for an advanced degree. Individual institutions may also provide scholarships to veterans. In addition to teaching valuable skills, schools provide an extensive and valuable network both with peers, professors, and alumni. Many schools have clubs and associations specifically for veterans, such as a Student Veteran Association (SVA) as well as other clubs and associations for people of a variety of backgrounds and interests to join.
Have a strong LinkedIn presence.
When it comes to professional networking, LinkedIn is one of the most effective tools on the market today. When used appropriately, LinkedIn can help make powerful connections to take a professional career to the next level. While manyrequired military transition assistance programs help servicemembers set up LinkedIn accounts, it is a very valuable tool with many different benefits that may not have all been introduced.
Begin with a strong profile, including a professional profile photo, professional experience (including military roles), education (including military certification courses), and other accomplishments, skills and interests. Limit the use of military terminology whenever possible as to ensure the profile can be understood easily by non-military members, being as descriptive aspossible while detailing responsibilities and accomplishments. For more tips on creating a strong LinkedIn profile with only military experience, click here.
Grow an extensive network of valuable connections on LinkedIn by starting with existing contacts, including friends, family, former command and other people served with.Consider joining LinkedIn ‘groups’ with professionals in targeted industries or roles, and with other former military members to help foster more connections that may be able to provide insight or support in a desired career path.
Valuable groups for veterans to join on LinkedIn include:
For a full guide to building a strong professional LinkedIn profile, cultivating a valuable network, joining and participating in LinkedIn networking groups and job searching via LinkedIn, download our Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile guide here.
Find organic connections.
For many service members, the military offers a strong, built-in network of likeminded people who trust, respect, and support one another. While networking in the civilian world may not feel or look the same, don’t overlook the value of existing organic connections with civilians such as friends and family, and their extended connections. Forging personal connections with civilians can help ease the transition out of service or advance a civilian career by providing insight into different industries and roles or even spark potential career opportunities.
About 55% of veterans in transition want to do something completely different than what they did in the military, and many may not know what or how to get started on that career path once leaving the service. Reaching out to friends and family to learn about different career paths can help inform veterans of industries or various areas of business they may be interested in pursuing.
Taking initiative and being willing to step outside their comfort zone is essential to developing a strong network. Consider what connections exist between family, friends, or friends-of-friends to someone with experience in an area of interest. Ask for introductions and reach out via email or phone call to set up a meetingto learn more about them and their career path.Make tangible goals of reaching out to a certain number of new people a week for a half-hour video call to learn about their career journey. While many veterans might not want to promote their military experience with every new connection, sharing that they are a veteran can sometimes help get a foot in the door with a new contact oropen up a more meaningful connection.
Don’t underestimate the power of connection. Another helpful step in forming a well-rounded network is by connecting with recruiters. Our recruiters have been trained specifically on reading and understanding military resumes and can help provide support and insight into building a strong civilian career. Get connected with us here.
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