Don’t Get Outworked in the Job Search

Over the years, we’ve seen many individuals struggle with the career transition from the military, but more importantly, we've seen thousands succeed brilliantly. In many cases, the struggle we see has more to do with the job seeker’s understanding of, attitude toward, and/or approach to, the job market than conditions in the market itself.

The veteran believes that he or she is doing everything within reason to find a job, but turns out to be mistaken. Job seekers who are having problems often cite examples of how hard they have been working to find jobs, how the odds are stacked against veterans, the shortcomings of job-finding mechanisms such as job boards and job fairs, the ineffectiveness of advice given out to veterans, etc.

This post is meant to challenge the job seeker to think about what they’ve been doing to overcome the challenges in the job search as a military veteran.

###Veteran feedback:

"I have sent over 100 resumes out in the last three months, but nothing has happened."

If you have experienced this level of lack of interest in your resume, you need to conduct some self-evaluation and examine how you are representing yourself. Also, we’d ask, why has it been only 100 resumes over this 90-day period? You should be pushing out 100 resumes a month if you are truly serious about getting a new job. There are currently more open jobs than we’ve seen in years.

Now, let’s break down this response in some detail. A lack of interest in your resume is likely more a result of not representing yourself in the right way than it is anything else. If we were sitting across the desk from each other, here are some questions you’d hear:

- Have you tailored each of the resumes to meet the requirements of the position for which you have applied? Guess what – if you haven’t, YOU HAVE NOT DONE ENOUGH.

- Is your resume error-free? Did you know that studies have shown there are between 118-250 applicants for every position posted online? There are recruiters out there who will eliminate your resume immediately when they see an error in that first 10-second scan. If you’d like to read on this topic further, here’s a great article from an expert in recruiting today, Dr. John Sullivan: [](

- After the first 25 send-outs with no response, did you seek out people to review your resume and give you feedback? If you didn’t, YOU DID NOT DO ENOUGH.

- If you are applying online, are you ensuring that your resume has keywords that match the words in the company’s position description? If you are not doing this, your resume will not even get seen by a live recruiter. The automated processes in the company’s recruiting system will kick you into the recycle bin.

- Are you presenting yourself in anything less than a professional way in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other online outlet? If you are disrespectful or inappropriate, use colorful language, or display a confrontational attitude, recruiters will decide to not talk to you. There may be some debate out there about whether employers ought to use social media to make decisions about hiring, but you are fooling yourself if you don’t think they’re checking you out online.

These realities of the modern hiring process rub a lot of veterans we hear from in the wrong way. We’re sorry about that, but this is how the world works. The sooner you get over real and imagined unfairness and learn how to win the attention of both humans and machines, the sooner you will get the interviews you’re not getting today.


Now, let’s address the number of resumes you are submitting or the number of jobs for which you are applying. In doing this, I have to use a word that should never be uttered in connection with a veteran, and that word is OUTWORKED.

A veteran who is serious about getting a new job should never be OUTWORKED. If you do not currently have a job, you are being OUTWORKED if you are not devoting 8-10 hours per day to your career search. If you do currently have a job, you will have to be more resourceful and clear significant hours for your search.

We feel strongly about working hard because we know what we have all gone through in our military service. And, of course, many of you who have served in the last 10-15 years have gone through the rigors of combat. So you understand how to accomplish a mission, overcome extreme adversity, and work in all sorts of different environments.

These are all intangibles that are meaningful to most employers. And if they do not mean much to a particular company, a veteran would not want to work there because the company culture would not fit.
Like many other tasks in life, getting a new job is about preparation, persistence, and timing. People who put in the time to learn how to present their backgrounds in a way that matches the company’s needs help themselves tremendously. It is not the employer’s responsibility to figure you out. It is your responsibility to present how you can solve the company’s problems and add value.


- Understand what the employer needs, and tailor your presentation accordingly.
- If you receive no response after submitting your tailored resume to 25 companies, seek help and feedback.
- Be error-free in your presentation.
- Learn how to get computer systems to recommend your resume to recruiters.
- Don’t be outworked; apply, network, and follow-up and repeat this cycle daily.