Leaving the military can be a difficult transition and deciding on your next career after the military can be just as daunting. There are countless decisions to be made and many pros and cons to be weighed. However, one job after the military that every veteran should consider is working for the federal government. Federal jobs offer many rewarding careers for military veterans that accompany incredible benefits and pay. Although the positions are competitive, your time and dedication can pay off!
Here are some tips that can help you stand out from the rest of the applicants:
1. An Outstanding Résumé
First of all, a “federal résumé” (a type of resume used specifically for applying to Federal jobs) is quite different than a standard résumé. It is a much more detailed account of your past work history and accomplishments. Typically, it is three to five pages in length and is tailored towards a specific position in the government. It is also crucial that military terminology and acronyms be translated into civilian verbiage.
There are a lot of do’s and don’ts when writing a federal résumé so it is suggested that if you are not familiar with the writing process that you seek assistance from a professional résumé writer, Veterans Affairs or the career office at your base. This may be your only chance to shine and you want to make sure that your best foot is put forward. In this case, there is something considered “the perfect resume.”
In addition, make sure your résumé is always accessible! It never hurts to have a few hard copies on hand and electronically if an opportunity should arise.
2. Network, Network, Network!
During your military career you have most likely encountered, worked with or befriended a federal employee. It’s important that you utilize this relationship to gain insight into openings or additional networking opportunities in order to get your foot in the door. They may be your first source of information pertaining to future career possibilities. So, keep all collected business cards in a safe place!
Job fairs are also a great avenue that can lead to federal jobs for military veterans. Keep your eye out for any job fairs in your area to enhance your awareness of upcoming and current positions as well as increasing your own network circle.
Additionally, don’t forget to use social media as a means of outreach. LinkedIn is a great marketing and networking tool that can connect you with millions of other professionals and important social circles. Joining is free and it will grant you immediate access to job information, members in your network and helpful insight.
3. Search high and low
USAJOBS is a great website to begin your job search because it is the federal government’s official job list. All federal agencies must publicly list their job openings and this website also provides tutorials such as a résumé builder and an incredible amount of career and job information.
You can also utilize your base’s career office, Veterans Affairs or federal agencies’ personal websites to gain information about available career opportunities. And be sure to check often! Jobs are posted daily so make sure it’s on the top of your to do list to check frequently and by various means and channels.
This is why, again, it is imperative to have a great résumé AND to have it accessible. When you find a job that interests you, have your résumé ready to go (although tailor it for each specific position) in order to avoid the dreaded deadlines and a missed opportunity.
It’s a good idea to have a “Master” resume with all possible information on it, that can be tailored for each new job you’ve applied for just by removing sections or bullet points. Simply open the document, Save As a new title, and start changing it to best meet the terminology and experience required of the job being applied for.
Since federal jobs are some of the most sought after positions, patience will have to be the key. However, an outstanding résumé, meaningful networking tools, and a true dedication to your search will certainly give you a boost higher than your competitors.