Transitioning into a civilian life and a civilian job after the military may be intimidating, especially if you don’t know how your skills and training translate into other careers. It could feel like a challenge to find the right fit for you and your family, but there are plenty of ways you can capitalize on your military experience to find great, fulfilling work. Here are three basic tips for veterans to find a civilian job.

Narrow down your skills and interests

The first part of the job search is, of course, figuring out what it is that you want to do. You may not have the ability to start your dream job right away, but think about what experiences could help get you there. You don’t want to look at jobs too broadly, so understand where your education and skills currently fall and begin your job search from there.

The good news is you can start this process before you transition out of the military. The U.S. Department of Labor has self-assessments for you to learn about jobs where you would be a good fit and an occupation profile to search for jobs near you. If you don’t already have the experience you need, consider taking a class or getting licensed in a new skill, which can be very cost-effective or even free on a military base.

Get all of your materials in order

To successfully find a job, you will need to have an updated resume and cover letter. These are the first items your potential employer will see, so you want to effectively showcase your talents and clearly outline what you can bring to the position. Be sure to keep it brief and make it personal to you. The Department of Defense’s Military OneScource has a guide for making your civilian resume and cover letter.

In addition to your resume and cover letter, a job recruiter might look you up on social media to get a better sense of your personality. Consider your posts and privacy settings, and look at your social media from the perspective of a job recruiter who has never met you — what impression does it make? You may also want to create a LinkedIn account, where you can easily display your skills and connect with professionals in your field of choice.

Apply, apply, apply

Often, it can take a lot of job applications and interviews to find the right fit. It might be discouraging, but the earlier you start, the better chance you have of securing a job before you transition. You can utilize your local Transition Assistance Program (TAP) office and job fairs to help you with your searches and networking. Putting yourself out there is not the easiest thing to do, but it is necessary to find the right job. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities, and remember that everyone has to start somewhere.

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