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Get foot in the door, then look to move up

May. 9, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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In my last column, I talked about some common job-hunting mistakes that veterans make: using too-narrow search methods, disregarding social media as an employment tool, sending out faulty resumes and not knowing enough about how your chosen civilian field does its recruiting.

In this column, I’m going to hit four more.

1. Spurning jobs that don’t meet your pay expectations. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but with so many people competing for the good jobs today, you may need to be prepared to take a position that pays less than you hoped for.

Many companies today are in no rush to fill empty positions, since many are still cutting costs. If the salary you’re offered is less than what you prefer, it may still be in your best interest to accept the position to get your foot in the door. Once on the inside, you have every right to continue to look for better opportunities with better salaries.

2. Not being willing to travel or move for work. You may want to follow the lead of companies who are packing up and moving to cities with growing economies and lower taxes. Searching for employment opportunities out of state or a little out of your way might be your ticket to finding employment.

People tend to follow the jobs. A 2012 study by United Van Lines revealed that the top areas that people are moving to are, in order, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Nevada, North Carolina and South Carolina. The top five areas people are moving away from are New Jersey, Illinois, West Virginia, New York and New Mexico.

If you joined the military a few years ago because you couldn’t find a job in your hometown, chances are good that unemployment may still be a problem there. Returning to the place you grew up may no longer be a practical decision.

3. Overlooking internships and volunteer work. Taking advantage of these opportunities while you look for permanent paid employment can benefit you in many ways.

Although internships are often reserved for those attending college and recent graduates, anyone can do volunteer work. This will lead to networking with others in your field of choice, learning about future job opportunities and, most importantly, gaining valuable experience that can be added to your resume.

You volunteered to serve your country. Why wouldn’t you want to serve your community?

4. Losing patience. The deadline to apply for a job can come and go in a flash, but hearing back about the position you applied for may feel like eternity. Job hunting will test your patience, but as a tactical veteran who has surely had experience with the military’s famed “hurry up and wait” approach to things, you can overcome this emotional obstacle.

Running a 24/7 job-hunting marathon will burn you out quicker than having to study for any military promotion exam. As you’re waiting for responses on one or two jobs, be consistent about spending a couple of hours a day looking for other job openings, reading up on current events in your career field and tweaking your resume, so you’ll be well prepared for any job interview that comes your way. ■

Steven Maieli is the founder of, which highlights links to federal, state, for-profit and nonprofit veterans benefits and other resources. Since 2009, he has also maintained a personal blog on transitioning veterans’ issues at The son of a Vietnam veteran, Maieli served in the Air Force security forces from 1999 to 2003. After being honorably discharged, he used the Montgomery GI Bill, Post-9/11 GI Bill and the New York State Veterans Tuition Award to earn a master’s degree in school guidance counseling. He now works as a veterans employment specialist with the New York State Department of Labor. He was born and raised and still lives on Long Island, N.Y.

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