Jobs for Veterans Job search advice for transitioning veterans

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Finding and Landing a Remote Job

More and more work can be done remotely these days and veterans are able to capitalize on this potential as they seek work in the civilian sector. But what do they need to know about evaluating these opportunities? Which are legit? Which may not be? What best practices should veterans use to find and land a remote job?

Growth in Remote Work Opportunities

According to FlexJobs, growth in remote work has grown 159% since 2005—over the past five years alone the growth rate has been 44%. Remote work tends to be most common for positions that represent knowledge work and that pay higher salaries. They point to software engineering and accounting as two examples. IT-related work and graphic design and other creative development roles also often gravitate to remote workers in part because the talent pool can be competitive on a local basis.

The ability to recruit top talent from a wider geographic range is a big benefit to employers and something that veteran job seekers can leverage to their advantage.

Is Remote Work Right for You?

Andrew Meadows is senior vice president of HR, brand and culture at Ubiquity Retirement + Savings. At Ubiquity, 80% of the employees work remotely in locations around the country. He’s a long-time proponent of remote work and says: “With the advancements in technology, almost any job could potentially be remote unless otherwise stated. If not listed, but sure to ask if that is a possibility should you get that first interview,” he says. At Ubiquity, he says, there are three rules for working remotely:

  • Overcommunicate
  • Be available throughout the day
  • Get the job done

Just as not every job will lend itself to remote work (retail clerks, for instance), not every individual will find remote work to be satisfying or right for them. Business Insider has identified “11 traits you need to be an effective remote worker.” They include the ability to:

  • Communicate clearly regardless of the medium they’re using (e.g. email, phone, video conferencing)
  • Keep to a routine
  • Make maximum use of organizational and productivity tools
  • Create a space to focus on work
  • Develop a sense of structure outside of a traditional work environment
  • Avoid over-analyzing social cues when communicating with team members
  • Separate themselves from distractions or other people while working
  • Welcome new methods of working and communicating
  • Remain focused on task and project completion even when dealing with differences in time zones or schedules
  • Connect with colleagues on a personal level
  • Build a network beyond the remote workspace

“Reliability is of the utmost importance for remote roles,” says Meadows. “The best way to demonstrate reliability is to know the mechanics of the required work and have as much experience as possible related to the role.”

It can be particularly helpful to share examples of past remote roles that you’ve held and how you’ve been able to succeed in them, Meadows advises. “Stating that you have an in-home office and that you’ve worked remotely in the past is important,” he says. “Describing an impressive project you’ve completed where the team wasn’t centrally located is a great way to illustrate proficiency.”

Make Sure the Company is Legit

These days it’s relatively easy to do a background search to determine whether a company is legitimate or not. Visit the company’s website as a starting point. While it’s relatively easy for just about anyone to put up a credible-looking site, there are some signs to watch out for that might indicate that a site—and the company it represents—may not be credible.

Gargi Rajan is head of HR for Mercer|Mettl, an HR technology and talent measurement firm. “A lot of websites you find for remote working or freelancing could be fake,” says Rajan. To minimize the odds that you get drawn into a non-legitimate opportunity, Rajan suggests checking the company out on “review websites, social media websites or LinkedIn.”

Glassdoor is an example of one very popular site where you can find reviews left by current and former employers. While negative reviews may simply be a factor of “sour grapes” among former employees, browsing through comments will give you a sense of consistency and help you identify any trends that may stand out—either positively or negatively.

Consider Tax Implications

Some remote workers are considered to be full-time employees of a company; others are not. Full-time employees will have withholding and other taxes taken out of their paychecks. Non-employees, or contractors, will not—but they will be personally responsible for paying those taxes. Be sure to clarify with any potential employer—or client—whether you will be considered an employee or contractor and, if a contractor, take steps to ensure that you are setting aside money to pay for taxes you may owe at the end of the year.

In today’s technology-enabled environment there are ample opportunities to pursue work in non-traditional ways—including working remotely for companies that could literally be located anywhere in the world.

Tips for Crafting an Effective Elevator Pitch

Veterans seeking jobs in the civilian sector face both challenges and opportunities in terms of making the transition from a military to a civilian role—and clearly communicating their ability to do just that.

Tips for Crafting an effective Elevator Pitch

One important tool to help them do that is the elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a brief, benefit-oriented statement that succinctly summarizes a person’s background and qualifications. It’s named “elevator pitch” because the idea is that you would be able to share this information in the amount of time you might spend with someone on an elevator in response to a question like: “What do you do?”

The Value of an Elevator Pitch

For veterans seeking job opportunities, the elevator pitch can be a great way to position their background, credentials and interest to those they may encounter in a variety of settings—from elevators, to business meetings, and even to friends and relatives. You never know where that next job opportunity may come from!

“All veterans should prepare an elevator pitch when they are looking to transition into the civilian sector,” says Ryan Guina, an Air Force veteran and the founder of The Military Wallet and Cash Money Life. That statement, he says, should include four main elements: a brief introduction, a career objective, your accomplishments and your skills. 

It’s important, Guina says, for veterans to translate their military skills into civilian terms. “You can’t spend precious time trying to decode your previous service,” he says. “you need to take the time to do this for your audience so they can hone in on your message.”

Draw Upon Your Military Skills

While you should work to communicate in civilian terms, you should still draw upon some of the skills you learned in the military when preparing your elevator speech. This, says Mike Clawson, should come naturally to veterans. Clawson is retired from the US Army and is director, academic and military outreach with the University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Having successfully made the transition from the military to a civilian role and now working with veterans to help them transition from the military to higher education, Clawson has some insights on how they can best position themselves through an effective elevator speech.

“Former military are familiar with having to be direct and succinct,” he says. It’s something that military leaders require when subordinates are delivering information. He adds: “Many military compare what they know as a mission statement—the who, what, when, where and why—to an elevator speech,” Clawson says.  

What’s In It For Them?

When framing your elevator pitch make sure to do it from your audience’s point of view. Your pitch shouldn’t be about why you need a job, Guina cautions. Instead, he says, “focus on showing them how you can help an organization achieve its goals.” 

Think about your audience and how your background and skills can help their organization. That’s what they’re ultimately interested in and what you should strive to deliver. 

Bryan Zawikowski has been a recruiter for 25 years and is vice president and general manager of the military transition division for Lucas Group, an executive search firm. While it’s important to “de-militarize” the language you use, you shouldn’t “un-militarize” it, he says. “It should be clear to the listener that you are a military veteran, but you need to avoid using military-specific terms and acronyms.

He offers an example of what his own elevator speech might be: “My military career afforded me leadership opportunities starting at age 19, and also taught me problem-solving, team-building and decision-making skills that have served me well in all aspects of my life. As a nuclear missile operations officer in the Air Force, there was no tolerance for incomplete knowledge or substandard performance, so I carry that ethos with me as I transition into the civilian sector.”

That statement clearly conveys the benefits that Zawikowski could offer by translating his military experience into the value he could bring to an organization. 

Exude Confidence, But Don’t Oversell

“Smile, but deliver the elevator speech with the same confidence you developed in your military experience,” Clawson advises. “Don’t hesitate.” And, he adds: “Just as all units do in the military—rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Anticipate what could go wrong, what questions could be asked and develop courses of action.”

But, cautions Jon Hill, CEO and Chairman of The Energists, a staffing and managing firm that serves the energy industry, don’t oversell. Bad elevator pitches, he says, sound like pitches—they shouldn’t. “I know it’s called a pitch, but you don’t have to sound like you’re pitching a product on Shark Tank,” he says. “You just have to be able to communicate your skills in a succinct, engaging way.”

Wrap up your pitch with a call to action. This will vary depending on the situation, Hill says. Maybe it’s an invitation for coffee. Maybe it’s a request to review your resume. Maybe it’s a request for someone to introduce you to someone at a company you’re interested in. Or, Hill adds, maybe you just want to get your name out there. In this case, he says, you don’t need a specific call to action. 

In any event it pays to be prepared. You never know when, or where, someone will ask a question like “what kind of work are you looking for?” 

Veterans Share Their Tips for Landing a Job Interview

An interview—over the phone, or in person—is generally the first positive step in a job search process. Landing an interview is a must do to move on to the next, and final phase—landing the job! Unfortunately, it can often feel like a futile effort to get an interview despite sending out application after application, mining personal networks and doing everything in your power to get noticed and get that interview. 

Veterans share tips for landing job interview

Here are some tips from business experts with a background in the military on how to get your foot in the door. 

Make Sure You’re Taking a Targeted Approach

Susan Joyce is a USMC veteran (also married to a USN veteran, daughter of USAF and US Army veterans) and publisher/editor of, a site she’s been running since 1998. Sometimes job seekers cast a net that is too wide. Focus can help, says Joyce. “You can’t have a successful mission without hitting the right target,” she says. “In this case, the target is your preferred job/career and target employers.” While job seekers are obviously eager to get a job—sometimes any job—Joyce cautions against being too flexible or “open to anything.” A lack of focus, she says, “means lack of appropriate networking efforts, information collection and online visibility.” 

Instead, she advises: “Learn as much as possible about the target jobs and employers so you can either be very successful reaching those targets or adjust your aim to find better targets if you learn things that make you change your mind about a job or employer.”

Paul A. Dillon, CMC, also points to an emphasis on accomplishing the mission as a key benefit that veterans bring to organizations. “The military is extremely mission focused,” he says. “The whole idea in the Armed Forces is to seize the objective—to capture or kill the enemy—while, at the same time, ensuring the integrity and welfare of your troops. You can't get distracted by small things along the way. You need a vision of what your battle plan is going to accomplish, and then execute that plan flawlessly.” Dillon is the owner/founder of Dillon Consulting Services, LLC, and an Accenture Visiting Professor of the Practice with Sanford School of Public Policy. He is retired from the McGladrey accounting firm and is a former U.S. Army Reserve 1st Lieutenant who fought in the Vietnam War. 

Speak the Language of a Civilian Employer Audience

Rebecca Wareing is a managing consultant with the professional search division for ZRG, an executive recruitment firm, where she is focused on the aerospace, defense and industrial manufacturing industries. She is an Army veteran who served in Bosnia in Operation Joint Forge. 

When we spend a lot of time in a particular industry interacting with people like us, it’s easy to fall into speaking a language that only our “in group” understands. And that’s certainly true for those with military experience, says Wareing. It’s important, she says, to “make sure your resume highlights your experience in a way the civilian audience can understand.” For instance, she says: “It’s far better to say: ‘Coordinated operations support for a 200-person team’ than it is to say, ‘served as command S2’.” Ask a friend outside of the military to take a look at your resume and cover letter to see if they can understand what you’re trying to say, Wareing recommends. 

Another important best practice here is to make sure that you’re mining the value of the military experience you’ve had by translating that experience into skills that resonate with potential employers. “Most employers get excited about people who have team leadership experience, training experience and global business experience,” says Wareing. “You may have all of that experience but have never considered it as part of your job description,” she says. Make sure this comes through in your resume and application materials.

Take Steps to Clear Up Potential Misconceptions

It’s not uncommon for those outside of the military to consider those with service experience as, perhaps, being overly rigid and inflexible. “When most people think about military service, they think that it's all just about the rigidity of following orders,” Dillon says, acknowledging that this is true—in part. Military personnel do, of course, need to follow orders. But he adds: “What most people never see is that the military teaches you to think and act flexibly, so that if your battle plan isn't working, you pivot immediately to a plan that does. You have to do that, if your plan isn't working—you have to be quick and think on your feet—or, you risk defeat and death at the hands of the enemy. Flexibility and immediate action are key to survival.”

And these are important things to point out through your resume and cover letter.

Pay Attention to the Passive Signals You May Be Sending

Submitting a resume or job application is an active means of indicating your interest in a position and sharing information about yourself. But in this digital age, where social media channels abound, it’s important to be on top of the passive signals you may be sending. 

“For most professions today, that means a focused, clear, complete and robust LinkedIn profile,” says Joyce. “It is more important today than a good resume.” The best profiles, Joyce says, are clearly focused on the target job and employers that candidates are interested in connected with. LinkedIn profiles, she says, should be considered to be both personal marketing and personal online reputation management.

There are a lot of benefits that veterans can bring to the workplace in a wide array of industries. You know that. But the challenge is clearly conveying the benefits you can bring during the application process so you can get in the door and tell them face-to-face about the value you can bring. The tips above can help.