The Cold, Hard Reality Check: Which Veteran Jobs Are Really Possible for You?

frozen Santa faces a cold hard reality check

There are moments in your military transition when you need hope, which career coaches like me really like to give. Then there are moments when job seekers like you need a cold, hard reality check.

December's ice-floe months of slow hiring are a really good time for both hope and a reality check, especially when it comes to which jobs you are most likely to get.

As's transition master coach, I know perfectly well that given enough money and time, you probably can do any job you want. After all, I've helped more than 11,000 of you with your job search. I know how adaptable and capable you are. I also know that you probably don't have enough money and time.

How Do You Figure Out Which Job You Should Do After the Military?

Well, there lies the problem. We career coaches usually start with you -- what you want to do, what you need to earn, what you want to contribute. All relevant but not the whole story.

In a cold, hard reality check, we start with the employer. The world of civilian employment is fraught with risk, especially for the employer. They may have every intention of hiring more veterans, but at the moment of decision, employers are more likely to hire the safe civilian candidate who has done this kind of work.

Don't take that as an insult; take it as your clue. The employer's past behavior is almost always the best predictor of their future behavior. So how do you figure out which employer is most likely to hire you to do which job? The easiest, cheapest way to get that answer is on LinkedIn.

I learned this trick from Sultan Camp, director of the Hampton Roads (Va.) Workforce Council, who has helped nearly 100,000 military veterans find employment. During our recent FREE transition master class: Secrets of Recruiters, Camp told me that a simple LinkedIn search offers the best cold, hard reality check for veterans.

How to Perform Your Own Cold, Hard Reality Check

1. Use the search engine.

In the search box at the upper left, put in your branch of the service, your rank and your military occupational specialty (MOS), Navy rating, or current job.

2. LinkedIn will pop up results of people like you.

The more connections you have (it should be 500+ during transition), the richer your results will be.

3. Click on a candidate, whether you know them or not.

Resist the urge to judge them or to tell yourself they are nothing like you. They don't have to be perfect. They only need to serve as one of your exemplars (people who serve as a typical example or excellent model.)

4. Scroll down to their job history.

Look for their first job after the military. Write down that job title and which job titles they have had, as well as which companies they worked for.

5. Collect at least 10 exemplars.

If you have a particularly broad job category, collect more, like 20 or 30. You can do this in a Word document, in a notebook or in a spreadsheet if you are a spreadsheet kind of person.

6. The result is a list of your most likely job prospects.

If the world has hired someone like you to do that kind of work, the likelihood is that it will again. So rejoice, be glad and get started on a hunt for those job titles.

The Colder, Harder Reality Check

If you think you need an even colder, harder reality check, try this on LinkedIn.

1. Back to the search engine

In the search box at the upper left, put in your branch of the service, your rank and your MOS, Navy rating, or current job and the job title you want most (like senior manager, director, vice president, CEO).

2. A lot of results

If you get a lot of results from military people like you, congratulations. You should feel full of hope. Scroll down to their job history to see whether they had another job before the dream job. That tells you a direct path to the top.

3. No results or muddled results

If you get no results, or if your results yield only civilians or veterans who have been out of the military more than 15 years, brace yourself for the cold, hard truth. If the dream job did not happen among the 810 million users of LinkedIn, it is highly unlikely this will happen for you.

4. Steel yourself.

Go back to the first exercise and start with the most likely jobs and build your path from there.

The cold, hard reality check isn't as cold or as hard as you think. It is part of the process to figure out what kind of job you want to do after military service. To help you figure out your next job, I've put together a new transition master class, How to Land Your Dream Job. Sign up today!


We will figure out not only what the world wants from you, but how to focus on what you want to offer the world. Because there is so much more hope for your next high-impact job than cold reality could ever know.


Jacey Eckhart is's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website, Reach her at

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Transitioning military, veterans and spouses may be qualified for the job, but they are missing the secrets of civilian hiring. Find out everything you need to know with our FREE master class series, including our next class You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.

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