Young Veteran's Special: How To Begin Your Job Search

by Randall Scasny

To begin a quick and successful job search, young veterans must do four things in the following order: (1) they must make a realistic review of their job skills; (2) determine what kind of jobs they are qualified for based on employer hiring standards; (3) write their resume targeted to specific jobs and, finally, (4) apply for jobs.

In this article, I will cover the first step in your career transition: making a realistic review of their job skills. To do this, I will cover three points:

  • Dealing with Your Expectations of Employers
  • The Difference Between Civilian and Military Qualifications
  • Examples of What Civilian Employers Seek In A Job Candidate

About twenty years ago, I separated from the U.S. Navy with a lot of electronics training and experience. I had the full expectation that civilian employers would be eager to hire me immediately and without much effort on my part. Well, I was wrong.

I had difficulties in getting job interviews. I couldn't understand why. Then, I went through a period of believing that civilians did not want to hire military veterans. Things changed when I found a mentor who taught me what to expect and how to appeal to a civilian employer. After learning job hunting basics, I found a good job.

False expectations can really hurt you! Don't allow yourself to believe that civilians do not want to hire vets. It's not true. What is true is that there is a big difference in what civilians determine as a qualified job candidate and what the U.S. military defines as qualified or certified service member for a particular job specialty or occupation.

In the military, you went through basic training and then some kind of specialized occupational training. Most of the time this training lasts for a couple of weeks to one year. With this training, you are then considered qualified to do a job and sent orders to your next duty station. That's not really the case in the civilian job world.

Civilians are not as standardized as the military as far as what they define as qualified. This is due to the fact that the businesses of civilian empliyers change at a much faster rate than jobs in the military.

A few years ago, if you could operate a computer, you would be hired ASAP by a civilian employer. Nowadays, civilian employers expect you to not only operate a computer but also program the computer as well!

Let's wrap up this article by looking at some "live" examples of what employers are seeking in job candidates for typical (entry level) jobs that young veterans are likely to apply for:

Customer Service Rep: The employer requires: Previous customer service experience and typing of 35 wpm, a current driver's license and proof of car insurance, some knowledge of building maintenance. Management experience a plus.

Human Resources Assistant: The employer states: Responsibilities include heavy phones and filing, computer data entry and dealing with employees. Must have good verbal and written communication skills. Must be proficient in Microsoft software suites. Bilingual a plus. PHR Certification required.

Serivce Technican: The employer is seeking: an experienced Service Technician. The preferred candidate will be EMC Certified and familiar with other manufacturers such as Braun, Bruno, VMI, IMS, Ricon and/or possess automotive dealership experience.

Electromechanical Field Technican: The employer prefers: candidates with minimum Associates Degree in Electronics or certification of Electro-Mechanical products. Ability for minimum 70 percent overnight travel. Must have current electronic trouble-shooting skills, knowledge of pneumatics and hydraulics, and strong mechanical aptitude. Preference to field service experience with hydro-pneumatic or medical laboratory equipment. Knowledge of computer software programs Word and Outlook. Have current CRM database experience (Ex. ACT or Goldmine).

Maintenance Supervisor: The employer states: Responsible for supervising hourly maintenance technicians. Schedule repairs. Troubleshooting equipment. Coordinating cost reduction measures and ISO 140001 compliance activities. Associates degree in Technology field. 5 years experience in industrial electronics. Knowledge of PLC, hydraulic and pneumatic controls, and blueprint reading. Experience with Injection Molding and Metal Stamping a plus.


All the above jobs are the types of jobs young veterans have done in the military. But, as you can see, the qualifications for the above jobs varies. Some of these jobs require degrees or special kind of industry qualifications. And some of these jobs require specfic industry knowledge. The basic requirements depend on the employer and the type of business they are in.

In order to have a quick and successful career transition, you have to look at your current jobs skills and an employer's requirements for a specific job. By lookng at these two things, you will be able to determine where you best fit into the civilian job market.

If you don't realistically look at your job skills and employer job requirements, you risk applying for jobs you are not qualified for or being "outgunned" in the job market because there are other job candidates who fit an employers requirements better than you do.

If you do not have the job skills or certifications, you will have a much harder time finding a job. To get them, you need to consider more education as the first step in your career transition.