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On this page: Veterans' Job Search Home: links to all of Job-Hunt's resources and articles specifically for veterans.

Guide to Online Job Search for Veterans

By Susan P. Joyce

Re-entering the civilian job market after 3 or 30 years of service in the military (THANK YOU!) can seem daunting, even to the most battle-hardened warriors.

Not to worry! You have faced - and overcome - much tougher situations, starting with basic training a while ago!

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Just remember that "know your enemy" still applies, except replace "enemy" with "target employer." You know your mission. "Attack" this task with the superior strategic and tactical planning skills you have, and you'll develop your job-winning strategies.

Mission: Find a Civilain Job

1. Define Your Mission:

Your mission is to find a job as a ... (what, exactly?)

Not knowing what you want to do will make the difference between a successful vs. an unsuccessful mission.  Would you go to war with the plan "kill the enemy"?  No, you would define the enemy, learn all you could about them, figure out the best time, place, and method to attack, etc. 

You wouldn't just grab a weapon and run around firing. Same with job hunting, exactly the same thing!

The first question you will be asked is, "What are you looking for." Without an answer, preferably in 25 words or less, you're dead in the water.

Be as specific as possible!   Avoid generic responses like - "working with people," "I'm a results-driven problem solver," or "I could do anything you need." Those are useless non-starters, covering everything from taking orders at McDonald's to painting houses, making movies, and about every other job you could name.  It tells nothing about what you really could do for an employer.. 

This may be the toughest part of your job search - what job to do next. You may have hundreds of jobs you think you could do, but you must narrow it down to one or two options, at most, that really interest you. If you don't know, as specifically as possible, what work you want to find, you won't have an effective job search, and people can't help you.

2. Collect Logistics, Support, and Intelligence:

Note: you may need another copy of your DD Form 214 (a.k.a. DD-214, your "discharge papers"). If you don't have a copy or can't find it, you may place a request through the National Archives online to get a new copy.

3. Assemble Your Weapons:

You need a couple of weapons and some new tactics before you launch your mission -

You have survived boot camp and, maybe, combat, too. This is a piece of cake in comparison. Really!

4. Launch Your Attack (Campaign)

Implement your plans, complete your LinkedIn and Google Plus profiles, and network your way into your target employers. Not easy or simple, but you have accomplished much more complicated things. Check out the articles in the right column of this page, and you will find much more help with your job search.

Apply your training and experience to this mission, and you will succeed! Adapt and overcome!

If you have any questions or issues you'd like covered, please send an e-mail to

About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.