If you feel like your job search is going nowhere, it may be time to take a step back and evaluate your job search performance. Have you received interview invitations and made it to the final rounds of interviews? If yes, then most likely you're on the right track. It's difficult to remain positive after multiple rejections, but clearly employers are interested--you may just need to fine tune a couple of things, like gaining better control of your nerves during the interview rounds.
If you've been applying for jobs for months and employers are not following up with you, then it's time to re-think your approach. The following list includes some of the most common barriers veteran job seekers encounter today. One of these may apply to you--if so, we have some suggestions on how to overcome it and show employers why you're the right fit for the job.
1. Your age
The media tends to focus on veterans who have just transitioned from the military, but plenty of older vets also struggle to find employment. According to AARP's jobs expert Kerry Hannon, who was interviewed for a recent Forbes article, age discrimination is "alive and well" in the workplace. If you're over 50, employers are worried if they hire you, you won't be able to handle the new technology, you won't work well with younger employees, or you're too set in your ways and won't be open to new ideas.
You may not be able to control you age, but there are things you can do to boost your candidacy. For example, if you're not familiar with basic computer programs or software, sign up for classes at your library and become proficient in what you need to know. It may also help your case to set up an account on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. That way if employers search for you online (they probably will) they can see you're savvy with social media. In addition, Hannon recommends developing a strategy to be a proactive job seeker. Follow-up with potential leads and always dress to impress. When you're called in for interviews, act energetic and let your actions and responses prove your age is of no concern.
2. Your location
If you live in a small town where job openings are limited, you can't rely on a traditional job search approach to find employment. Instead, Forbes contributor Susan Adams recommends you to "communitize," a concept first defined by Roger Wright in his book, Finding Work When There Are No Jobs. When you communitize, you're doing more than just networking--you're volunteering to help the community, or attending a community event where you can discuss a shared interest with another attendee. When you're more involved, you'll recognize the needs of the community, and helping to meet those needs may lead to a job you weren't informed of or hadn't considered. At the very least, potential employers will be impressed you took the initiative to get involved with your community during your phase of unemployment.
3. You're leading an untargeted job search
Too many job seekers fall into the trap of submitting applications and resumes to as many open positions as possible. In reality, it's best to have a more targeted approach. According to Harvard Business Review contributor Peter Bregman, hiring managers often hire people they know or share a connection with, making it unlikely someone will follow up with you if you applied through a job board or a company website. Rather, Bregman argues it's in your best interest to spend time with people in your field of interest, as "Finding a job or new clients is all about human relationships." Whether they're friends, acquaintances, fellow service members, or even career counselors like MVRC's career specialists, make a phone call and learn what it takes to succeed in your new field. This way you'll receive helpful information while building useful connections.
In addition, it's best to limit the number of hours you spend each day on applications--that way you spend time on positions you're qualified for and companies where you'd enjoy to work. If you're starting over, you want your next job to be one you'll actually like, right?
4. You hate interviews and it shows
According to a survey conducted by the market research firm Harris Interactive, the interview process causes stress for 92% of Americans. Veterans, who would rather be judged by their past work performance than how well they pitch themselves, are no exception. However, the interview is what gets you the job, so you can't let your nerves get the best of you.
Before your next interview, it's best to remember employers are most interested in candidates who share a passion for their line of work. Therefore, focus on what excites you about working for that company and make sure you convey that through your responses and your body language. Make eye contact, ask questions, and listen actively. If the decision came down to two candidates with similar qualifications, the candidate who engaged the interviewers the most would receive the offer.
As a veteran, you have a lot to offer potential employers--adjusting your job search strategy can help them realize that. In addition, Bregman suggests spending time on activities you enjoy, or taking up a hobby you always wanted to try. Employers hire people who are energetic and do interesting things. Using this time to focus on yourself may do wonders for your search.