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Veteran Unemployment: How to change your approach

Updated: Apr 30

Since the pandemic is finally concluding, employment has been one of the number one issues for many people. This is a significant issue for many veterans as they transition into the civilian sector. As veterans, we feel we are very marketable in the job market, but new employers can misinterpret that attitude. Therefore, we must change our approach to turn rejections into job offers. Here are some ideas on how to do this.

Regardless of whether you find out early or at the end of the hiring process that you did not get an offer, it is a mistake not to change your approach going forward. If you keep taking the same approach, you will likely keep getting the same results.

And rejection is not the worst thing to have happen. When you do not get a job offer, it is easy to lose faith in yourself and doubt your value. However, your value is not related to rejection—it is your inability to communicate your value that is usually the issue.

So, to make sure you are taking the right approach in your job search, here are four tips to help in effectively communicating your skills, knowledge, and experience.

1. Be clear about what you want

Do you know precisely what you want? If not, that needs to come first.

Many professionals put together a resume and cover letter when looking to make a job change and start submitting to dozens of online listings. However, each listing is uniquely different, requiring different skills, knowledge, and experience. This means your applications need to be individually tailored to each listing.

Of course, it is challenging to please everyone—and there is no way that you can! But it is simple to target a specific audience. After deciding what you want and who you are marketing yourself to, it is best to research the market and understand exactly what companies are looking for. So, before beginning your job search, make sure to do all of the following:

  • Narrow your search down to the desired industry

  • Narrow down to the desired companies

  • Narrow down to the desired position(s)

  • Understand the responsibilities of the desired positions

  • Understand the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to get those positions

  • Understand the requirements and desired preferences of the target companies

2. Strategically position and differentiate yourself

Now you need to formulate your strategical position as a perfect fit.

Your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile are used to market and sell your professional value as the solutions to employers’ recruiting problems (this is what gets the interview). This will show the employer that you bring exactly what they are looking for.

Review your strategic positioning and marketing documents (resume, LinkedIn, cover letter), with three questions in mind:

  • What does the specific target audience want?

  • What relevant skills, knowledge, and experiences do I offer?

  • How am I currently positioning for my specific desired opportunities?

Answer these questions honestly, then review, update your marketing materials, and interview preparation.

3. Start networking

What is your strategy in pursuing career opportunities?

Most people are not aware that approximately 85 percent of positions are filled through networking. This is because a company fills a position through referral, which results in a faster recruiting process that is a less expensive recruiting process and a better chance of hiring someone who is a long-term cultural fit. The entire cost for a position’s recruiting process can be costly, ten percent more than the position’s annual salary.

Eighty-five percent of positions are usually filled through networking, leaving only fifteen percent for online applications, making these positions the most competitive and the least effective approach for landing your desired position.

So, if you are primarily relying on online applications, you must start networking. It is not a should or maybe but an absolute must.

If you are already networking, but it is not working, you will need to change your approach. Your job relationship must come first; everything else comes after.

4. Articulate how you can add value

How are you communicating your value in interviews?

You can compare the interview process of going on dates with someone before committing to a long-term relationship. We naturally want to ask ourselves two questions:

  • Does this person align with what I am looking for?

  • Do I honestly like this person?

Questions are similar in the interview process:

  • Do you bring what they are looking for?

  • Do you provide the energy that fits into their team and atmosphere?

Take these two questions and begin writing down bullet-pointing reasons for what you bring to the company and how you align with their values, team, energy, and atmosphere. You will then begin to alter your interview prep and begin to see the difference in your interviews.

A final note

Every problem should provide a solution, and your rejections should only provide growth. So, start reviewing and analyzing your job-search approach, and you’ll be well on your way to solving this frustrating (and common) problem.

A Systematic Approach to Find the Right Job

Job Hunting Is a Job People who are more successful in getting jobs do not approach the process of finding a job casually. Instead, they work when you are job hunting. The amount of time should be based on whether you are unemployed or still working at your current job. If you are not working, then job hunting has to become your full-time job. If you are working, you need to dedicate a specific number of hours each week to this process. The fundamental elements in job hunting include:

  • Knowing the type of job you want.

  • Organize your approach to job hunting.

  • Be proactive each day and do something that contributes to your job search.

Decide What Job You Want You cannot find the right job if you cannot describe it. Many people waste too much energy responding to jobs that “look interesting,” “sound fun,” or that they think will make money quickly. Avoid wasting time by defining the following;

  • Things you do well.

  • Things you enjoy doing.

  • Things that you have experience doing.

  • Job Elements that would be unacceptable. They might include:

Working evenings, nights, or weekends.

Extensive travel. Work on a straight commission or other specialized compensation systems. Relocate to another city.

Then define your ideal job. This essentially does not have to be the most qualified job, given your current skills and experience. However, suppose your perfect job requires a radical career change. In that case, your planning should include a strategy for gaining some experience in your newly chosen field and figuring out how your experience could be an asset in this area. Many people cannot define their ideal job. It is easy to determine what they like to do and what they do well, but it is difficult to synthesize this into a specific job direction. If you fall into this category, do not despair. Your most significant problem is that you might waste time applying for jobs that you do not have a chance of getting. Describe your ideal job and then use that description as a way of evaluating each job opening. Before applying for a specific position, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Do I meet the minimum skills requirements?

  • Do I meet the minimum number of years in experience required?

  • Do I meet the education requirements? If not, could my past work experience be substituted?

  • Is this job a step up, a lateral move, or a step-down from my current position?

  • How does the salary range compare with my salary history and requirements?

  • Does this position involve unacceptable job elements?

This preliminary evaluation will help prevent you from applying for jobs that you are either over and under-qualified for, which would inevitably be the wrong career move.

Organizing Your Job Hunt One of the critical things that will determine your success in job hunting is your ability to remain organized. You need to plan each day to help you land the job you want. Some of these activities include:

  • Reviewing classifieds in the newspaper, business publications, and professional magazines.

  • Sending out resumes in response to advertisements.

  • Meeting with prospective employers.

  • Sending follow-up letters to potential employers after an interview.

  • Communicating with your network (friends and business acquaintances) to let them know the type of job you are looking for.

  • Attending meetings of professional groups in your field.

You Are Job Hunting, not on a Vacation If you are not working, do not act like you are on vacation. Maintain a regular schedule. Set the alarm, Monday through Friday, and get up at the same time you did when you were working. Work at job-hunting during normal working hours (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) with time out for lunch and several short breaks. People should treat job hunting more like a regular job if they get up, dress for work, leave the house, make phone calls, write letters, etc. If you have your own office space, take advantage of it. If you must conduct your job hunt from your home, make it clear that you are not disturbed during specific periods.

Use a Daily and Weekly Planner Set up a regular written schedule to be more effective. Write in the daily and weekly plan squares that fit your needs. Then after determining what you need to do, tape the schedule near the phone or your desk. Check off each step as you complete your plan. Try to stick to a regular schedule. Resist the tendency to achieve things only when you think of them. If you accomplish something every day, you will feel better, and others will see you as a working, organized person. Conversely, if you will not make an effort to plan or commit yourself to a plan, you send the message that you are not ready to work.


Carlstedt, J (2021). How to Change your Job Search Approach and Turn Rejections into Offers. Retrieved from

Employment Cossing (2021). A Systematic Approach to Finding a Job. Retrieved from

Image provided by Midjourney (April 30). Retrieved from

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