For Colorado veterans, transitioning to civilian workforce means ‘thinking forward’

There is good news for America’s veterans. According to the Wounded Warrior Project, unemployment is declining.

The national unemployment rate for veterans dropped to 3.7%in January 2019, according to the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service. That’s lower than the national non-veteran unemployment rate of 4.3%.

The unemployment rate for Colorado veterans sits at 4.2%, meaning that there is still some work to do.

That said, there is an army of resources and volunteers ready to help veterans do more than just find a job; they are eager to help veterans achieve their career goals. If you are a veteran, here’s how to get started and make the most of the resources that are available to you.

Always remember, service is an asset.

Although your experience in the service might feel disconnected from a set of job qualifications, it’s not. Veterans offer a valuable set of skills to their employers, including leadership, teamwork, strong work ethic, the ability to handle stress, self-direction, and more. According to Small Biz Trends, hiring veterans is good for business because veterans are goal-oriented, trained leaders who take responsibility seriously. Veterans know how to make decisions, speak their minds, and work well independently. As you approach re-entry into the workforce, think beyond technical skill requirements of a job that can be taught with job training and identify the invaluable skills that you honed during your service.

Find a mentor.

As a veteran, returning to civilian life can be challenging for a variety of reasons, which can make the job hunt seem more than overwhelming. Partnering with a mentor through a service such as Hire Our Heroes can increase your confidence, help you stay positive, and help you reflect on what your goals are in your new civilian life. Your mentor can also offer you the friendship you need to find clarity and humor in moments of stress.

Set your goals.

It’s crucial to assess your skills-sets and goals before you set full-speed ahead on your job hunt. Your career goals may look drastically different than they did before deployment, or they may not. Did you have a job that you’d like to return to after your service? Do you need training or education to land the job that you want? Or, would you like to start your own business that offers a specific product or service? There are lots of programs available to veterans returning to work, and so knowing which ones align with your goals will help you to be successful. For example, the Vocational Rehab Programs for Veterans and Service Members offers five different tracks, each of which is designed to help veterans achieve specific career goals. When you know what your goals are, it will be much easier to determine which resources to pursue.

Build your resume for the future.

As a veteran, resume building involves about “thinking forward.” In other words, a resume should not be just a list chronicling your work in previous years. Instead, it should be a list of your accomplishments and skills that specifically position you to excel in the job that you are applying for. Use your resume as a platform to articulate how your time in the service will drive your success in your next role.

Get LinkedIn.

LinkedIn offers one year of LinkedIn Premium to service members, veterans, and military spouses. This premium service provides trainings and access to leading employers. Although creating a public page might feel uncomfortable, it shouldn’t be. Career coach, Lida Citroën, of Lida360 suggests that veterans start with updating their profile photo, as well as a headline and summary to reflect what they prospective employers to know.

Accept help and get hired.

As a veteran looking for a job, you have a community of people and organizations who want to help you find success. Because there are so many career paths available and resources to help you travel them, it can all become overwhelming. Not only should you accept help, you should maximize it by keeping a record of what you learn about yourself and your goals, the connections you make, the resume edits you receive, and so forth. Use the resources to the best of your ability, and you will get hired.

Want to learn more? For a comprehensive list of local non-profits with programs helping vets with resources related to activities, general community, education, family, finance, housing, legal, health, and more, check out the Colorado Veterans Project.

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