3 Critical Skills Veterans Should Promote when Looking for Work

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(U.S. Army/Capt. Jerry Duong)

Whether you’re preparing to separate from the military or have been in the civilian workforce and are looking for your next career move, applying for work necessitates successfully promoting yourself.

However, many veterans fail to promote certain unique and compelling traits and skills when applying for work, to the disappointment of many employers.

During your transition out of the military, you likely were coached on writing your resume, creating your online profiles and making yourself attractive as a candidate for jobs in your preferred career. You likely were asked to inventory your qualifications, including your experience, certifications, education and the results you achieved.

In addition to the experiences and qualifications you bring to your next job, I encourage you to promote these skills:

1. Training

During your time in uniform, you constantly were learning new things and being trained to apply them to your work. The ability to absorb new ideas, processes and systems quickly and apply that training in real-world, high-stakes environments is a skill many people don’t possess.

By all accounts, our government has invested several billion dollars in recent years training service members on everything from intelligence work and information technology to combat readiness, communication systems, human performance and management. That investment taught you how to receive and implement training efficiently and effectively.

When meeting with potential employers, emphasize the training you’ve received during your military duty, as well as your proclivity to being trained. Today, companies value employees who can learn quickly, adapt to new processes and cultures, and will help others learn as well.

2. Discipline, Resolve, Tenacity and Grit

Inevitably, life throws us curve balls: unexpected, unclear or unpleasant things happen that cause us to feel off-kilter. Whether it’s losing an important client or account, recognizing that our skills aren’t up to par or a global pandemic that sends workers home for more than a year, change happens.

What matters is how we adapt and overcome obstacles -- something you know well. During your time in the military, you learned how to stick with a challenge until it was resolved, you developed discipline to hold yourself and others accountable to meet goals, and you displayed a grit that comes from having no choice but to move through a difficult situation where others might run from it.

That resolve and determination make you a valuable team member to a company that prioritizes integrity, hard work, collaboration and high ideals. Be sure to mention your resolve and tenacity when competing for civilian jobs.

3. The Service-Oriented Mindset

When you joined the military, you raised your hand to serve your country. That commitment to service doesn’t leave when you take off the uniform. Employers today seek candidates who’ll bring a collaborative, inclusive and service mindset to grow to their culture.

They look for employees who will lead initiatives, will encourage affiliation and promote teamwork. Your ability to build successful teams, commit to a purpose greater than yourself and lead others toward a mission that’s aligned with values makes you a unique asset to an organization that cares about service.

Find ways to connect your service mindset to the way you do your work, why you’re passionate about your chosen career path and how you anticipate adding value in a new role.

As a job seeker, it’s natural to be focused on promoting your qualifications and abilities. However, if you aren’t highlighting who you are and what you’ve learned in the military, you’re not showcasing what makes you uniquely qualified to employers who are seeking talent with skills, qualities and characteristics you offer.

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