In this day and age, social media is nearly everywhere: from duck face selfies to customer service, the social media machine has put information literally at our fingertips.
Whether it is the latest stock quotes, sports scores, or Hollywood news our generation is well-equipped to remain informed at a nearly unprecedented level. All of the companies, teams and celebrities that enjoy millions of followers have one thing in common: they have built a brand, and that brand has given them immense opportunity.
What if that same brand development method was applied to you as you leave the military? What if you were able to make and sell yourself as your own brand as you navigate the military transition process and begin looking for employment? This short article will point you in the right direction.
One of the most powerful media outlets for veterans is LinkedIn. Some call it the “Facebook for Professionals,” and a lot of that is true. LinkedIn offers a chance for folks to network themselves on a professional level: whether it is mentorship, sharing best practices or job openings, LinkedIn has cemented itself as one of the premier job search tools.
So how does one enter the LinkedIn market when they are considering leaving the military? Simple! Just like any other new company you build a brand.
While a completely free service, LinkedIn does have a premium version. Some of the benefits include featured applications, a look into who is viewing your profile, direct contact with hiring managers and perhaps most importantly, how your profile stands up against other applicants for a job. To sweeten the deal, LinkedIn offers this to Veterans for one year absolutely free. One free year to capitalize on building your brand is crucial to transition. So, how does one build a brand?
First, after joining the LinkedIn site (www.linkedin.com), it is important to choose a good profile picture. Avoid the “official” military photo; instead, choose a photo of you either in business attire or just a face picture. As the old saying goes, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”.
Remember, you are building your brand, so choose wisely: you may not get a second chance to make that all-important first impression.
Second, tell the world who you are, not what you are. While some recruiters may be looking for a particular skillset, it is recommended to avoid military jargon and acronyms when assembling your profile. One savvy LinkedIn member took his military skills and translated them: instead of saying “Weapons Sergeant,” he put “Leader;” another turned “battalion commander” into “operations executive.”
The beauty of LinkedIn lies with its members: you can scroll nearly 450 million users for ideas on how to make your brand stand out. Are you a volunteer with an organization? Chances are they have a LinkedIn page that you can add to your profile. Many service members have had work published in a professional publication: if you have, be sure to add it with a link to the actual published work.
Lastly, build your network. While there is a 30,000 connection cap, it is more than enough to start researching companies. When you find a company that interests you, see who works for them: there is a good possibility that the hiring manager or recruiter has a LinkedIn page. Connect with other veterans who work for the company and ask them how they have adapted to the culture. Does the company offer support for its veterans?
From there, you can send a connection request and introduce yourself: most recruiters are more than willing to accept requests. It is critical to note that the days of uploading resumes to automated job sites are losing the race to interpersonal connections with live recruiters! With just a few savvy connections to recruiters, your feed will soon fill with companies looking for potential candidates…will you be one of them?