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Career Resources for Student Veterans

This guide has been created in collaboration between Student Veteran Services, Career Development Center, and Business Career Services to provide a resource to student veterans at App State as they search for jobs or internships. The objective of this guide is to provide students resources they can use to find positions with employers that support veterans, how to research employers further, and where to find support on campus through offices and/or clubs and organizations.

Highlight your identity

Resume and cover letter examples

When creating a resume or cover letter that includes your military experience, there are some things to take into consideration as common military phrases, concepts, or acronyms, generally, do not translate to civilian life. Follow these steps and read these articles for additional tips on adjusting your application documents:

Reflect on your military experiences and reframe them into civilian terms. You likely did a lot that will have a great impact on your resume but without translating it, might make it difficult for a hiring manager to understand how you meet the job requirements. 

  • Adjust common military jargon to civilian terms.
  • Any acronyms you have normally used for tasks, reports, procedures, etc, should be written out so that hiring managers can get a clear picture of what you have done.
  • Also, consider titles held by those around you. For example, Commander, Field Grade Officer, or Supply Sergeant might not make as much sense to a civilian hiring manager compared to Senior Manager, Manager, or Supply Manager. Here are some additional resources that have long lists of military translations that may be helpful:
  • Create a list of your technical and interpersonal skills. Your Verification of Military Experience and Training, could help in this process.
  • Bullet points should include several pieces in information:
    • Start with an action verb, ex: Led, Communicated, Manage, etc
    • Discuss what you did or the task at hand
    • How you achieved the task at hand or what the result was of the actions you took
      • When possible, make sure to use quantifiable information to add additional context to the work you have done.
  • Consider these questions when translating bullet points
    • What was the value added?
    • What was the purpose of the project
    • Did you do any analysis, design, or planning of the project?
    • What tools or software was used?
    • Did the project increase productivity and by how much?
    • How was it developed?
    • How many people were involved or affected by it
  • Helpful resources for adjusting resume

Interview tips

  • Similar to resume translating, you will need to be able to speak about your experiences in a way that civilian hiring managers will understand
    • Once you have completed translating your resume, much of the work is already done.
    • Take steps to get to know your new resume and the language used, this will help you discuss your skills and experiences in an interview
    • Make sure you understand the job description and the organization so that you can better connect your experiences with the job you are interviewing for. By making those direct connections between you and the job, you are not only showing that you are a good fit for the role but also that you have taken the time to do additional research and are taking the interview seriously.

Veteran’s status and job applications

  • When meeting with a recruiter, you can choose when you want to disclose your military experience
    • Many organizations are veteran friendly and want to learn more about your experience
      • To ensure this, research the company before engaging in a career conversation whether that is in a career fair-like setting or virtually on linkedin or social media. Take a look at this resource to discover veteran friendly organizations (link to research page)
    • If you are uncomfortable talking about your experience or wish to not disclose your military history, that is also appropriate.
    • If you are a disabled veteran, it might best to wait to disclose that information until later in the application process as unconscious or conscious bias may negatively impact your hiring experience, unless accommodations are needed to complete an interview.
      • Refer to this page for information about ADA guidelines and discrimination (link to Students with Disabilities page)
  • Who has veterans status
    • Any person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable
      • 180 days of active duty
      • 1 day in combat zone (King, n.d.)
    • National Guard members or reservists who have served for 20 years or 180 days of active duty (Soucy, 2016)
  • What is Veteran’s Preference and who is eligible?
    • Veterans’ preference gives eligible veterans preference in federal job appointments over many other applicants. While it does not guarantee one a job, it can be helpful in the job search process
    • Veterans are eligible if they, have been discharged or released from active duty under honorable conditions, have a service-connected disability, or received a campaign badge or Purple Heart
      • In addition to eligibility, one must submit documentation to receive veterans’ preference. Acceptable documentation may include:
        • Copy of your DD-214 or Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty
        • A written certification from the armed forces that states the service member is expected to be discharged or released from active duty under honorable conditions no later than 120 days after the date the certification is signed
        • A Standard Form (SF-15)
        • A letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs reflecting your level of disability for preference eligibility
    • For more information, visit Feds Hire Vets Veterans Preference Guide
  • How to answer questions on application to help in the application process depending on your status and experience
    • The questions about Veteran’s Status on applications are voluntary in nature, and applicants can decide to respond fully to the questions or not.
    • The information provided cannot be used to discriminate against an applicant or negatively impact anyone else in the hiring process. When this question is asked, it can also be a good indicator of a company trying hiring more Veterans (Roberson, 2016)
    • Generally, this information is gathered for demographic reasons and to get an idea of how many applicants have veterans status. Many times the hiring manager does not see this information unless it is on your resume (which it should be!) (Kibbey, 2021; Robeson, 2016). 

Differences between campus and workplace experiences

  • On-campus, there are many resources, programs, and organizations in place to help veterans know their rights, get accommodations, find support, and build relationships.
  • In the workplace, many organizations do not have the same resources or the same level of resources for veterans
Evaluate the employer
  • Include a list on who regularly comes to App who is veteran friendly or provides veteran preference.
    • Equitable
    • RSM
    • Lowes
  • Military Times: Employment: Provides information for “Best of Lists” regarding employment, and employers that are great for hiring vets as well as articles and information focused on vets in transition.
  • Feds Hire Vets: information about process of getting hired for Federal jobs.
  • My Next Move for Veterans: Developed by O*Net, this search tool helps vets find their next career and provides information on what steps one should take in order to pursue that career.
  • VA Careers: While much of the information is related to healthcare, there are roles that could be great opportunities in other academic areas. This website provides a wide array of information to do further research about working for the VA as well as provides career options for students.
Make connections

Resources on campus and in the Boone community

  • Student Veteran Services: “The Student Veteran Services and Major General Edward M. Reeder Student Veteran Resource center serve as a central hub for all things “military affiliated” at Appalachian State University” They provide services and programs such as the Military Mountaineer Mentoring Program, Boots 2 Books Learning Community, Veteran and Military Orientation, as well as support with transfer credit, academic registration, and monthly newsletters.
  • Military Affairs Committee: The Military Affairs Committee’s goal is to support military-affiliated students, staff, and faculty by advocating for military affiliated members of the Appalachian community and advising the Appalachian State University administration on ways to be more inclusive of military affiliated members of the university
  • Program Director of Student Veteran Services: The Program Director of Student Veteran Services is the central point of contact for military-affiliated students on campus. The program director collaborates with various points on campus and can answer questions, take suggestions, and listen to concerns to help support students on campus.
  • CareerOneStop-NCWorks Career Center- Watauga County: This is a local employment agency that offers career planning, job search assistance, training and referral services. These agencies are managed by the Department of Labor
  • National Resource Directory: Website that focuses on connecting veterans and their families to organizations that provide assistance programs such as employment opportunities, benefit information, job training, and educational opportunities.

Clubs and organizations

Know your rights

Veteran’s Status is a protected class

It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a veteran with protective status based on their veterans status

Who falls under the “protected veteran” title?

  • Anyone who fits within one of these categories:
    • A veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. Military and is entitled to disability compensation or was discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability
    • A veteran who served in active duty in the U.S. military during a war, in a campaign, or in an expedition for which a campaign badge was authorized
    • A recently separated veteran: a veteran separated during the three-year period beginning on the date of the veteran’s discharge or release from active duty
    • A veteran who, while serving on active duty received an armed forces service medal
  • What rights are entitled to a protected veteran?
    • You cannot be denied employment, harassed, demoted, terminated, paid less, or treated less favorably because of your veterans status
    • You can request and must be granted a reasonable accommodation unless it would cause the employer significant hardship or expense
    • You can also request and must be granted a reasonable accommodation during the application period as well
      • A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment to the workplace that allows one to perform their job and/or enjoy the benefits and privileges of being employed that does not change the fundamental job function
  • What to do if you have been discriminated against due to your Veteran’s Status
    • You can file a complaint with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)
      • By filling out and submitting a form on the OFCCP website
      • Filling out a physical copy at a regional OFCCP office
      • Mailing, faxing, or emailing a completed form to the regional office that covers the employer location where the discrimination happened
  • Department of Labor-Protected Veterans’ Rights Factsheet

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

“USERRA protects the job rights of individuals who voluntarily or involuntarily leave employment to undertake military service or certain types of service in the National Disaster Medical System” (Department of Labor, 2017)

  • You have the right to be re-employed by an employer in the event you are deployed for military service as long as
    • Your employer received written or verbal notice of your service
    • You have 5 or less years of uniformed service while with an employer
    • You return or re-apply for work in a timely manner
    • You have not been separated from service with a disqualifying discharge or under other than honorable discharge
  • You also have the right to be free from discrimination and retaliation during the application process, during employment, reemployment, to be retained during employment, for promotion, and/or any workplace benefits, if you
    • Are a past or present member of the uniformed service
    • Have applied for uniformed service membership
    • Are obligated to serve
  • What to do if you have been discriminated against due to your service membership and/or ability to reemploy with an organization
    • Engage with the interactive USERRA Advisor, to respond to experiences with discrimination and reemployment due to military service

Department of Labor-USERRA Factsheet

Explore your resources

Resources for support through transition

Whole Vet
  • Non-profit organization dedicated to serving veterans, transitioning service members, and their families
    • Work closely with local universities such as Appalachian State and corporate employees
      • Career- Provide information, input, and feedback to transitioning veterans as they search for employment. They also host career-focused information sessions with universities and corporate partners focused on broad information such as career path planning, networking, and education planning as well as employer sessions focused on careers within different industries and with veteran friendly organizations
      • Family- Whole Vet also provides programs and panels to help families transition such as marriage and youth support towards a civilian lifestyle.
Military Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL) Programs
  • Through these websites, you can learn if you are eligible for any civilian credentials that could bolster your resume or help you in the job search process.
  • Having a credential from your military service can help open up more opportunities while translating your military experience into a civilian career
  • DoD TAP is a curriculum based program focused on transition assistance for veterans as they transition from military life to civilian life. The curriculum is focused on all aspects of one’s career transition including enrolling in higher education, finding work, and starting a small business by providing resources, assistance and skill development to those who enroll.

Job search

  • G.I. Jobs: In addition to providing a job board focused on veterans, G.I. Jobs provides information regarding industries who are hiring regularly and tips on applying to jobs in different industries.
  • Vet Jobs: Military job website with 2 job boards. One specific to the companies Vet Jobs works with as well as a larger board with jobs from all over the country. .
  • DIA Jobs: Jobs for vets with the Defense Intelligence Agency 
  • Hire Heroes USA: Provides a curated list of employment opportunities specific to veterans while providing individualized support to aid vets in their job search
  • Hiring Our Heroes (HOH): An initiative by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to connect veterans, service members, and military spouses with employment resources
  • NC4ME: North Carolina for Military Employment is an organization focused on helping veterans and their family members find work through a curated job board, and hiring events around the state. In addition to the hiring effort, NC4ME provides free job skills training and career advising.
  • Military Job Board – A national job board that focuses on providing jobs to veterans and curated articles based on their situation and career interests. 
  • USAJOBS: Job board with options to upload a resume and be contacted by recruiters, career information regarding different industries, and information on applying for federal jobs
  • Recruit Military: Recruit Military provides a large job board for veterans to search for positions from Veteran Friendly Partners that collaborate with Recruit Military
  • Veteran Recruiting: Veteran Recruiting provides an option for veterans to find jobs, attend information sessions with employers, and career fairs.
  • Feds Hire Vets: This job site was developed as a part of the 2009 executive order focused on federal agencies hiring veterans. Not only does it utilize a wide ranging job board for veterans to find work, it also provides resources, articles and news to assist veterans in the job search process
Unique considerations

“My service experiences has nothing to do with the jobs/internships I’m applying to”

  • Your previous experience does not need to be exactly the same as where you want to go for it to be important and helpful in the job search.
  • Even if there is not an explicit or direct connection between your time serving and your career path, there are likely skills that you used serving that will help you in any job area. While there might not be technical skill connections, you could use your experience to highlight the soft or social skills you utilized such as communication, leadership, collaboration, decision making, and/or critical thinking, that will be valuable and intriguing for employers.
  • If there is not a direct connection between your experience and the job description, you may need to think broadly about how your experience relates to the job.

“How do I start to translate my military experience to language that a civilian hiring manager can understand?”

  • You could start by getting some documents or information that provides some narrative information regarding your education and the skills you used in the military such as:
    • Verification of Military Experience and Training (VMET) will outline the training and experience you had while in the military. It will not be in perfect resume language, so you will need to reflect on the experiences outlined here to pull out the skills you want to highlight on your resume
    • ONet Military Crosswalk is a resource that will take your military job titles and broadly show the skills you have developed or used in that role. This will be a bit more clear that the VMET in figuring out the skills you have developed.
    • Review job descriptions for the areas you are interested in professionally and make notes on the types of skills they are looking for. Do you need to be able to communicate with a team? Is there a specific technical program that you need to know to be successful in the role?
      • You can then start to tailor your skills to the skills outlined in the job descriptions you are interested in.