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Level Up Your Job Search in 2021

It’s a new year, but in many ways the job search climate is likely to remain somewhat disrupted moving into 2021, as many industries are still responding to the impact of COVID-19. For veterans looking for new opportunities, 2021 is a year to think a bit differently about the job search landscape. Despite lingering concerns on many fronts, there are actually some great opportunities veterans can take advantage of, as many organizations are now looking for remote workers—removing geographic boundaries and broadening opportunities.


Let’s take a look at some recommended job search resolutions for 2021 from recruiters, HR professionals, and others.

Dream Big. Set Goals. Take Action.

Be Confident When Communicating Your Skills

Veterans should take the same approach as they did pre-COVID as they plan their job search strategies for 2021, says Michelle Diamond, CEO of Diamond Executive Resumes. “Focus on what you want, put all of your energies into what you want, work both hard and smart, network, and position yourself for success,” she recommends. In addition, Diamond recommends that veterans “shore up any areas where they need improvement and work on their confidence and articulating both their direct and transferable skills and how that can help their organizations.” 

Paul French, managing director of Intrinsic Search, agrees. “The pandemic has had a big impact on the future of work,” he says. “My advice to veterans is to head into 2021 with a reskilling/upskilling mindset, because new skills are needed in the workplace that the pandemic has created.” In particular, he advises veterans to work on acquiring tech skills such as digital marketing, coding, and cloud computing.

Related Reading: CompTIA Training Available on Military Hire

This doesn’t need to require seeking a new degree, French notes. “The good news is that you do not have to acquire a four-year degree; instead, you can make use of the many online learning platforms that allow you to learn at your own pace, acquire in-demand skills, and obtain the necessary certification.”

Network Strategically

Networking is an evergreen strategy for successful job search. That remains true even during a time when in-person interactions are limited. Taking a strategic approach to networking with the goal of landing a great job can pay dividends. 


Elissa Kuykendall Unton, CEO and co-founder of ArcVida, Inc., recommends talking to other veterans who are happily working. “Ask them to share how they pivoted into their current careers.  Join online groups now and local community groups later as the virus surges life in your area,” she suggests. In addition, she recommends connecting with former military colleagues. “Ask how they are doing emotionally and professionally and ask them to share how they are adapting their work, lives and careers.” 


French also recommends that veterans work to build a network that extends beyond their military connections. “Veterans can be at a disadvantage due to a lack of a solid professional network outside their military colleagues,” he says. “As you enter the new year, it is important to kick your networking efforts into high gear because the truth is people get jobs based on who they know.” That may not be how it works in a military environment, he says, but notes that “it is how the civilian world works.”


Related Reading: Networking Tips from Brian Arrington of Vets2Industry

Invest Time in Your Job Search Efforts

Unton recommends job seekers to invest time in their job search in a planful way. “If you’re not working at all, spend a few hours a day looking for income-generating gigs and a few hours a day looking for the right long-term role,” she suggests. “If you’re working full-time, we recommend that you spend five hours per week of high-quality time, when you are focused and have good energy, on your search.” Being mindful about the process and investing time strategically can help lead to desired results. 


Jonathan Hill agrees. Hill is chairman and CEO of The Energists. He suggests treating the job search like a job. “Having a schedule can make it easier to manage your job search,” he says. “It can also help to limit anxiety over the job search and keep you from feeling guilty when you take time to relax.” He suggests creating a to-do list of tasks, giving each task a deadline and working the tasks into a weekly schedule. “This will ensure you’re doing everything you can to find a job without feeling like you have to stress about it 24/7,” he says.

Cast A Wider Net

One of the benefits that the pandemic has created for job seekers is the opportunity to work remotely. That can extend the geographic radius of the job search as more companies begin to consider working with a remote staff indefinitely. Because of this, Hill recommends that veterans consider expanding their job search radius.


“If remote work is an option for you, consider widening your search to include remote jobs not in your geographic area,” he suggests. In addition, he suggests, “consider ways your experience could enable a career shift.” This may be especially helpful for those with a background in hospitality, food service, or other heavily impacted industries, he says. “Considering positions in a growing industry like ecommerce or healthcare can open up a lot more positions to apply for.” 


That old saying “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade” is good advice and particularly pertinent as we move into a new year that can offer new opportunities for veterans to think differently about their job search. What resolutions will you make to help propel you toward your dream job in 2021?

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