Veterans making military career changes can be challenging and stressful. While transitioning from the military, choosing a career at VA can make the experience a lot easier and less stressful.
At VA, we understand the unique circumstances transitioning service members face and have created plenty of resources and tools to support you in your move to a new career. You will work alongside other veterans as you continue your mission to serve.
Here are six things you can do to successfully transition from a military career to one at VA:
- Prepare for your transition well in advance.
Planning and preparing for your next move can help relieve stress and boost your confidence. Take advantage of what’s available to you while you’re still a service member, such as the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program.
Take stock of your skills and think about how you could parlay them into a job at VA. For instance, VA created the Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) Program to hire former medics and military corpsmen into positions at VA medical centers. Ask supervisors for letters of referral or to serve as job references. Brush off your resume and make it shine.
Talk with former service members who have already transitioned to civilian careers for tips and moral support. If you think you want to switch careers or need more education or training to make you competitive in your current career, explore educational opportunities and see how VA benefits may support you.
- Make LinkedIn your best friend
LinkedIn is an invaluable career tool that can help you network, search for jobs and take advantage of career-building resources. VA offers transitioning service members a free year of LinkedIn Prime, which includes more than 14,000 LinkedIn learning courses.
LinkedIn Prime also has two learning paths for Veterans: Transition from Military to Civilian Employment and Transition from Military to Student Life. Need some help navigating LinkedIn? Check out these four VA Careers videos for tips on using LinkedIn for your job search.
- Activate your support network
Job hunting can take a toll on even the most persistent job seeker. That’s why having a support network is a good idea. In addition to current and former military colleagues, family members, neighbors, friends and acquaintances may all potentially be great contacts.
You might be surprised to learn where they worked, who they know and who they might be able to connect you with. Keep an open mind and network, network, network!
- Spend time on the VA Careers website
The VA Careers website has all kinds of resources to help you explore and apply for positions at VA. A page dedicated to veterans has useful information about benefits and veterans’ hiring preference — and lets you view available opportunities or search for specific VA careers.
On our Navigating the Hiring Process page, you’ll find an instructional guide that can help you search and apply for positions through USAJOBS.gov, as well as tips for preparing and submitting a job application.
The VA Careers blog is chock full of information about topics like how to ace a cover letter, how VA helps transitioning service members and spouses pursue civilian careers and what you can expect in a post-military career at VA. Consider participating in virtual career fairs, allowing you to speak with VA recruiters and learn about available positions.
5. Contact a VA recruiter
Be proactive and email a VA recruiter. Connecting with a VA recruiter will speed the job application process and help you secure an interview. A recruiter can answer questions and guide you on finding the opportunity that best matches your skillset, preparing your resume and planning for interviews.
6. Finally, don’t give up!
Finding a job takes time and patience, especially in a tight job market. Create a transition plan, rely on your network, use LinkedIn often, take advantage of all the resources VA Careers has to offer, connect with a recruiter and stick with it!