Dear Matt: I'm returning from active military duty and need a job! What tips do you have for me? What has changed in the few years I have been out of the job market?
Matt says: Nearly 3,000 Minnesota National Guard soldiers returned in late April after serving in Afghanistan and Kuwait during the last year. Many are now seeking employment.
Technology and social media are two of the biggest changes in the way job seekers look for work and employers search for talent, says Jennifer Brigham, CEO of Brigham Group Staffing (www.brighamgroup.com), a Twin Cities-based staffing firm. Must-haves for any job seeker:
• An electronic version of your résumé. The electronic version can be uploaded to online job boards, attached to a company's web-based application, or e-mailed.
• A professional profile on LinkedIn and on all the big job boards, Star Tribune Jobs and Hero 2 Hired (h2h.jobs) -- a web site focused on connecting military-trained talent with jobs.
One thing hasn't changed -- networking is key. Just ask veteran Tim Connelly, now a Twin Cities-based lawyer (timconnellylaw.com). "The single most important thing for returning service members is to understand the power of networking -- even in a simple job search," said Connelly. "Go to meetings, conferences, social events and tell your story, especially events with a veteran-friendly focus. You will be well received, and knowledgeable employers will recognize the value of the organizational and leadership skills you have accumulated in the service of your country."
Don't overlook the possibility of starting your own business, or starting one with your fellow service members. There are state and federal government programs designed to ensure that veteran-owned businesses get a fair share of government contracting opportunities. Many large government contractors seek out veteran-owned businesses for the quality work they do and to help fulfill their government contract responsibilities to promote small businesses.
"Plan your search, execute the plan, revise the plan and execute again," said Connelly. "Learn something about the market (and yourself) with every encounter, interview and rejection until something good turns up -- and it will turn up, if you stick with it."
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