Job searching when you’re a young professional can be tricky. Job searching when you’re a young veteran can be an even more difficult process.

The veteran group that is having the hardest time finding jobs are those aged 18 to 24. In fact, in 2012, veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 posted an unemployment rate of 20.4 percent. Not only do young veterans have to face the hurdles of actually looking for a job, but they also face certain stigmas that come with being a veteran.

What are these stigmas exactly? They can range from an employer not wanting to hire a veteran to whether or not they are qualified for the job based on their time away. While it’s completely illegal to discriminate against veterans, these stigmas do exist. The trick is learning how to combat them in order to come out on top in the job search. Here are a few ways to do it:

Emphasize your skills

As a young veteran, your skills are what can make you into the ideal candidate, and employers are desperate for them. Recent surveys indicate about 35 percent of employers report difficulties in finding employees with the right skills, the highest number since the start of the recession. So, showing off your talent is what’s going to make you stand out to employers, regardless of your veteran status.

How to do it: Transferable and soft skills are a great way to take what you learned in your time away and apply it to a new job. For example, if you gained ample leadership experience or can speak a foreign language, be sure to note this on your resume. So, even if it may not fit with the exact job description or industry, these skills may still be preferred.

Check out veteran-friendly resources

There are many resources for veterans, including GallantFew and the National Veterans Foundation. These tools exist to help transition, mentor, train, and eventually assist you to be better citizens and professionals post-duty. In addition, using these resources means it’s going to be easier to find connections or employers who understand you better because they’re aware of and accept your circumstances.

How to do it: While every veteran-friendly resource is going to differ, try to utilize the tools that are going to help you the most. For example, if you need job search advice, check out websites with advice columns. If you’re looking for job listings, many resources offer a job board.

Embrace your past

Stigmas exist because many have preconceived notions about that particular issue. In this case, your veteran status may make employers or recruiters believe you’re not capable of certain job duties or can’t perform well because you’re a veteran. While this is obviously illegal, it’s vital that you embrace your past and use it in your job search arsenal. After all, the fact that you’re a young veteran isn’t going to change. However, the way you use your past in your job search is something you can use to your advantage.

How to do it: There are lots of ways to embrace your past. For example, you can tell your story through your social networking platforms. You can blog about your job search. You can connect with influencers at networking events and illustrate why you’re a great candidate. You can even create videos or multimedia elements showcasing the benefits of hiring a veteran and what you can do for an organization. Using your veteran status as a ladder can help you stand out.

Though being a young veteran job seeker is tough, you can eliminate any stigmas associated with your status by emphasizing your skills, checking out veteran-friendly resources, and embracing your past. Doing so can assist you in your job search and beyond.

What do you think? What are some other ways young veterans can eliminate stigmas while job searching?

Let’s think about all the parts of a successful job search: How to Make Your Job Search Productive

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