Is the thought of transitioning into the civilian workforce causing you anxiety?
The modern job search is frustrating, time-consuming, and often discouraging… especially for veterans. Changing careers is stressful enough, but transitioning from a military environment into a culture of unpredictable job search lengths and minimal control over the job search process can be overwhelming.
Since referrals are hired 8 times faster than other job seekers, I highly encourage military service members and veterans to leverage their network using LinkedIn. Starting with a strong LinkedIn profile is often the first obstacle to overcome.
These LinkedIn profile tips for veterans will guide you through creating a strong LinkedIn profile with only military experience.
Narrow Down Your Job Targets
If you already know how your military experience and training translates to a civilian career, then you’re off to a great start! Blazing into a civilian job search with no idea which direction to go is going to be stressful and slow down your job search. Your experience may translate well for a career in a police, fire rescue, or security force but it may also translate well for a role in IT, project management, engineering, or communications. Trying to appeal to all of these fields at once isn’t the best strategy.
Have a clear job target in mind when you’re planning your civilian job search. This is will help you target your resume, job application information, and your LinkedIn profile which is critically important in the modern job search.
Do A Little Research
Now that you know which field you want to transition into, do a little research. You’ll want to know more about the career path, salary range, qualifications needed, and major players (or companies) within the field. You can find this information from Google searches, but I’d recommend starting with Glassdoor and LinkedIn.
You’ll also be able see which jobs are available at these companies. Researching available jobs will help you create lists of qualifications and skills expected from an ideal candidate. These are important details for both your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Speak To Civilians In Your Experience Section
It’s time to work on your LinkedIn profile! Start by filling out your profile completely. This means filling out the description field for each of the jobs you list under your Experience section. Don’t let this intimidate you, but remember the LinkedIn users reading your profile won’t be as familiar with the military terminology that has become a second language to you.
Use the description field to summarize your typical tasks by describing what you were responsible for on a typical day. Imagine you’re explaining what you do to a teenager to translate the more military-specific and technical jargon for your profile.
Add Your Job-related Training
LinkedIn combines your projects, certifications, and coursework in an Accomplishments section that holds a lot of weight when you use your LinkedIn profile to apply for jobs online. Filling this section as much as you can will even improve your visibility in LinkedIn search results!
List any military training that relates to your job target under Courses (unless you were officially certified by an industry-wide recognized organization in which case you’d list them under Certifications). These will boost your profile and show civilian employers that you value professional development and continuous education.
Showcase Your Volunteer Experience
Volunteer experience that doesn’t pose opportunities for discrimination should also be listed on your LinkedIn profile. While volunteering for political or religious organizations may be important to you, these can be red-flags if they imply beliefs that differ from company leadership or the organizational culture.
Instead, draw more attention to how you applied your transferable skills to solve problems or lead others. Treating your volunteer experience like work history on your LinkedIn profile can help you showcase traits that are inherent to military experience in a more relatable way to a civilian employer.
Create A Mission-focused Headline
Your LinkedIn Headline will be as visible as your name in LinkedIn search results, so don’t settle for the default assigned to you by LinkedIn. Customize your Headline by creating a condensed Branding Statement including your job target, your top qualifications or skills, and the value you offer to employers.
The value you offer to employers will ultimately be the results you can produce by contributing to the company’s mission (or even the role’s mission). Not sure how to get started creating a Branding Statement that you can trim down for your LinkedIn Headline? This Branding Statement will help!
Use Your Summary To Describe Your Career Goals
Too many LinkedIn users miss a huge opportunity to humanize their profile using their Summary section. Some simply copy-and-paste a summary from their resume. Others don’t add a Summary section to their LinkedIn profiles at all. This section is prime real estate for telling your unique story and describing your career goals.
By focusing on your career goals and future, you can show employers that you’re ready to transition into the civilian workforce. Connect the dots by summarizing your military experience, focusing on your job-related and transferable skills, and aligning these with your goals for the future will help hiring professionals get to know you more.
Smile In Your Profile Photo
Finally, don’t get shy when it comes to adding a profile photo. LinkedIn profiles with a profile photo are 14 times more likely to be clicked on and viewed from search results than profiles without a photo. In fact, the profiles without profile photos are sent to the bottom of the list even if the rest of the profile is filled out completely!
Don’t upload a stiff military headshot, though. Further humanize your profile and showcase your personality by uploading a profile photo showing off your smile. The more approachable you look in your profile, the faster you’ll grow your referral network and land a civilian job.
Create a targeted LinkedIn profile that translates your military experience into qualifications and skills that a civilian employer would love to see.