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How Veterans & Military Spouses Can Improve Their Civilian Job Prospects

Transitioning to the civilian job market can be challenging, especially now, as veterans and military spouses face historically high levels of unemployment. But don’t let statistics and figures hold you back — your skills and experience are more powerful than any stat! With the right approach, you can land a terrific opportunity and reach your career goals. Here are five strategies to help you stand out:

Tailor Your Application Materials


Don't send generic resumes and cover letters. Instead, dissect each job description and purposefully weave relevant keywords into your documents. Highlight accomplishments that highlight your transferable skills for that position, using clear and concise language. Proofread meticulously for typos and ensure your formatting is professional and visually appealing.

Expand Your Network


Your network is your secret weapon. Reach out to former colleagues, military connections, and even acquaintances on LinkedIn. Inform them about your job search and ask for introductions to hiring managers or recruiters within your target companies. Don't underestimate the power of informational interviews – connecting with industry experts can open doors and provide valuable insights. These interactions can lead to referrals, a proven shortcut to landing interviews. 

Optimize for Applicant Tracking Systems


Many companies use an ATS to screen resumes, so understanding how these systems work is crucial. Use relevant keywords strategically throughout your resume and cover letter, without going overboard, to increase the likelihood that an ATS will move you to the top of the pile. Applying early also increases your visibility in the applicant pool. Set up job alerts to get notified when targeted companies’ positions are posted. The sooner you apply, the better!

Position Your Military Experience as an Asset


Don't shy away from highlighting your military service! Articulate how your unique skills – leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, resilience – translate to the civilian workplace. Look for veteran-friendly companies with established programs to support veterans or transitioning service members in the workplace. Military spouses can find valuable career support through companies participating in programs like MSEP and Blue Star Families, or by joining a Military Spouse Fellowship program, such as Hiring Our Heroes. Many other fellowship programs are also available to provide professional development and networking opportunities.

Follow Up After Applying 


Don't wait for the employer to contact you after submitting your application. Send a personalized email to the hiring manager, expressing your interest and reiterating your qualifications. Briefly mention how your background aligns with the position. Demonstrate your proactive approach, stand out from the crowd, and leave a lasting, positive impression.

Bonus Tip: Build your online presence! Create a strong LinkedIn profile showcasing your skills and experience. Consider joining veteran-specific online communities and participating in relevant discussions.

Key Takeaways

Remember, your job search journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay focused and persistent and use these simple strategies to your advantage. Stay resilient throughout the process, as your next opportunity is undoubtedly waiting for you.

Want more free advice? Click here to schedule a session with a VSN career coach.


As a Career Coach at Easterseals Veteran Staffing Network (VSN), Michael Robinson guides veterans, military spouses, and transitioning service members toward fulfilling careers. Michael's experience spans diverse roles from hiring manager to career counselor, giving him unparalleled insight into both employment opportunities and candidate needs. Before joining the VSN, he served as a Department of Labor Transition Assistance Program (DOL TAP) Facilitator, guiding service members and their spouses through the nuances of the military-to-civilian transition.


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