5 Tips for Military Vets Transitioning Into a Remote Workforce or Business
With many companies at least temporarily remote, you need to put your best foot forward digitally.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Leaving service is enough of a sea change on its own, but combine that with a worldwide economic downturn, and vets now have to think more carefully about how they seek and submit for job opportunities. With many companies at least temporarily remote, and plenty of them considering how to make it work for the long haul, you need to put your best foot forward digitally.
Even if your role will eventually move in-person, there's a good chance that most of your communication will start out digitally.
Know How to Repurpose Your Military Skills
There's no doubt that the military is a world in and of itself. For many transitioning vets, it can feel like most of your military experience doesn't match up well with the civilian world. However, it's not always about the tasks you did, but the skills you leveraged to do those tasks. Even if a civilian employer might not understand the specifics of your military roles, think about how you exercised cross-functional skills like problem-solving, organization, handling conflicts in teams, leadership or adaptability.
In both your cover letter and your interviews, focus on how you can make the connection between the skills you learned and exercised and how those could play into your success in the civilian workforce, too.
Working with a career coach or another veteran who has successfully made the jump into the civilian world can help you reconsider how many of your military skills are relevant and how to position them the right way.
Related: The Best Tools for Juggling Multiple Freelance Clients
Understand Applicant-Tracking Systems
Federal jobs have their own systems and requirements for submission, but if you're looking to enter the private workforce, be prepared to learn and use ATS to your advantage. These software programs scan your resume and cover letter to see how you match up with the job description.
One of the most effective things you can do is make sure you're using the same language as your intended employer when you describe your skillset. Need a leg up? Free tools like cvscan.co.uk and RezRunner will help you create custom resumes for each application. Aim for no higher than an 80 percent match for your resume and the job description.
Tap Into All Your Resources to Find Leads or Support
In addition to using some of the many organizations that help place veterans in position, make sure you know some other resources available to you. Whether you're looking to start your own business or land a full-time position, there are some incredible people and organizations to assist you. Think outside the box and consider these:
- Remote.co, a website that refreshes partly and fully remote jobs every single day. Get an email alert for your job category.
- Aspiring coders should check out V School, which offers a Veterans in Tech scholarship a few times a year for vets who want to learn development. The organization will work with scholarship recipients and students until you're in a full-time programming job.
- Nonprofit Bunker Labs offers a Veterans in Residence program to help vets and military spouses who want to start their own business. They're also an excellent resource for entrepreneurial videos and engagement within the military business owner community.
- Operation Freelance is a new nonprofit that teaches military spouses and vets how to break into technical and creative freelancing as graphic and web designers, virtual assistants, writers and editors.
The military community is one of the most supportive out there. Let recruiters, friends, and connections know you're on the hunt for a good job. They'll be more likely to send leads and introductions your way when you can give them a clear sense of what you're looking for.
Be Ready for Remote Interviews
Don't treat the remote interview process any less professionally than you would an in-person meeting. Make sure your lighting is set up properly so that you are easily seen, that your background is clear of clutter and that you have earbuds so you can hear all the questions properly.
During the interview, you'll want to be prepared for questions about working remotely. Here, too, you can lean in to your experience working in conditions where you had to manage your time effectively or keep a team across multiple locations organized and on the same page about the project at hand. One of the best things you can do to land a remote job is to maintain excellent communication through the application and hiring process; it shows the employer what kind of worker you'll be in a remote environment.
Related: Expert Negotiation Tips From a 6-Figure Freelancer
Don't Give Up
Landing a remote job is a dream for many who want the flexibility of being at home while still having a fulfilling work life. A remote-job search can take up to six months or even longer, depending on how specialized your skills are. Wait for the right opportunity and the right team; it will make working remotely that much more enjoyable when you still feel connected and pushed forward in your career — even when you're based out of a home office.