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Avoid common job-hunting mistakes

Apr. 19, 2013 - 11:42AM   |  
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The still-shaky civilian job market can look like a minefield to transitioning veterans.

As a tactical veteran, you can better your odds of finding good-paying employment by avoiding some common job-hunting mistakes. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so I’m going to talk about four this week and four in my next column.

1. Using too-narrow search methods. Modern technology lets you job-search from your easy chair at home, and using the Internet clearly is an efficient way to zero in on employment opportunities.

But you shouldn’t rely completely on applying for jobs online. For one thing, there’s no guarantee you’ll hear back in a timely fashion — especially if you’re seeking government employment through www.usajobs.gov.

Instead, cast your net as widely as possible, to include the old-fashioned way: Check the job ads in your local newspaper. It’s also worth visiting your local Labor Department office, which has information on jobs in your area. And use some shoe leather by hitting every job fair within a reasonable distance.

After applying for a position, always follow up with a phone call to show your interest and ask about the status of your application. That may seem like pretty basic advice, but you’d be surprised how many job hunters don’t do it.

2. Disregarding social media. This is directly related to No. 1 above. Social media is no longer just about keeping in touch with your buddies. It’s an integral aspect of networking, job hunting and company recruiting — even by Fortune 500 companies.

For my money, LinkedIn is the best in the business for networking with key personnel. For better or worse, whom you know can be as important as what you know — and knowing someone in the right position could make the difference in whether you get called for a face-to-face interview.

Social media networking is so important and so prevalent that simply having a professional page on sites like LinkedIn can get you noticed — and even get you a job.

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3. Sending out faulty résumés. If your résumé is filled with poor grammar, misspelled words, incomplete information or too much military jargon, your road to employment will lead straight up a really steep hill.

Don’t be afraid to have others look over your résumé; they may spot mistakes you overlooked. And as far as military jargon is concerned, there’s only one thing to say: Keep it off your résumé.

Websites such as www.mynextmove.org can help you turn military jargon into civilian words and skills. An employer will greatly appreciate being able to understand the experience you gained in uniform without having to use the Defense Department Dictionary of Military Acronyms to decode it.

4. Lack of knowledge about your chosen civilian career. You need every possible edge in the job-search jungle. So knowing everything there is to know about how your chosen field recruits most of its employees is a must.

Some fields have specific job websites or job boards. For example, people in the education field where I live, in New York, know that a href="http://www.olasjobs.org">www.olasjobs.org is one website to consult for open positions.

When it comes to interviews, knowing as much as you can about your field is a no-brainer. One question you can always expect to field in an interview: “What do you know about our company?”

In my next column, I’ll cover salary offers that don’t meet your expectations, being unwilling to travel or move for employment, overlooking internships or volunteer work, and the importance of patience in your job hunt.

Send questions and comments to tacticalveteran@militarytimes.com.

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