Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I used to be a computer repair person but didn’t have any degrees,
just a lot of hands-on experience. I joined the Army to earn money for
school so I could get into the higher end of my profession. If it has
parts I can fix it, now even more than before. I served two tours in
Iraq. I feel fortunate to have come home in the same shape I left. Now
I am looking for work, but can’t seem to get a call for an interview. I
know what I’ve learned from the experience and also how hard it was.
I don’t think I am “owed a job”, but I don’t want any stigma from
having served my country to make job-hunting harder than it is.
Dear GI Joe:
There are lots of wonderful things that veterans have to offer
employers. Unfortunately and sadly, there are also lots of biases that
non-veterans have about those who’ve been in war, derived in part
from PTSD news stories and in part because people are afraid of what
they do not understand. You will need to navigate those fears in order
to prove yourself. But your experiences also give you an edge over
civilians that you might be able to exploit. And unseen prejudices are
much less damaging than unseen IEDs. A lot will depend on the
connection that you make with prospective employers and their own
experiences with having served. You’re not limited to applying to
veterans but you will likely find them intuitively more receptive.
Organize your resume by categories of skills rather than chronology.
To be clear, the topic headings under “Experience” should not be a
chronological listing of jobs with US Army at the top. Instead, you
should have categories like Management, Technical, Supervisory,
Computer Skills, etc, and then bullets detailing what you are good at.
In your cover letter you should say you’ve just completed two tours
and that you offer a prospective employer the chance to hire an
employee with demonstrated reliability, work ethic, courage, and the
ability to be consistent and productive in the most stressful of
environments. End the cover letter with a request for an interview, so
that you can show the job offerer who you are and what you’re made
of. Don’t expect instant miracles, because it’s a tough market. But the
right person will recognize a great opportunity and you’ll get a chance
to strut your stuff.