THE BLOG
04/25/2013 11:11 am ET Updated Jun 25, 2013

How Veterans Can Improve Their Employability

Military veterans often struggle to find employment after completing their service for a number of cultural and socioeconomic reasons. But keen job search techniques can help veterans to snag a job when transferring back into civilian life.

Since the recession of 2008, workers across the U.S. have been struggling to find and keep jobs, but military vets have been hit just as hard as domestic workers when it comes to finding meaningful employment.

The unemployment rates for veterans is slightly higher than the national average, which is hovering at 7.6 percent. In 2012, the overall unemployment rate for military veterans was 9.9 percent.

These numbers can be discouraging for military veterans -- but if you're a veteran, there are a number of techniques you can apply to improve your employment prospects:

Ramp up your online presence. Increasingly, employers are turning to Google to run searches on candidates before they even glance at your cover letter. Ensure your online presence is professional by starting a blog, personal website, or online portfolio with your resume. This can be a great way to showcase your personality and show you're comfortable using new technology.

Connect with mentors. Creating relationships with professional contacts in your field or industry is crucial for learning about industry trends and potential openings. Contact a professional you admire via email or a site like LinkedIn, and ask them to meet with you for an informational interview. You'll glean valuable insight on their career path and will snag a great contact for any future questions you may have during your job search. If you are not sure where to begin, there are numerous online resources to help, such GallantFew. Try to find the right resource and support organization right for you: based on location, profession or branch of military served.

Tap into social media. Remember when I said employers are likely to Google you? It's also important to have a professional presence on social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. Share relevant industry news and insight, and let your personality shine through, as well. Just keep your updates clean of any negative content and grammatical errors. Social media isn't just a great place to showcase your expertise -- it's also a great way to network and keep up-to-date on industry trends.

Scour the Web. The Web is teeming with potential job openings, and reviewing the listed skills requirements can help you to gauge the expertise you need to gain employment in that industry. Run a search for niche job boards in your industry, or look to paid software to glean insight and openings. My company, Jackalope Jobs, offers free software with an intelligent search process that helps job seekers tap into their social networks to find employment.

Seek out ways to grow your skills. There are always going to be opportunities to grow your skillset. Enroll in night classes at a community college, attend webinars, follow industry blogs, attend networking events, or sign up for seminars and workshops. Most of these are cost-effective, and can be easily added to a resume or provide great stories to include in a cover letter. Remember, careers aren't static -- there's always room to change and grow.

Military vets may have a high unemployment rate, but it's never too late to improve employability. All it takes is a keen knowledge of new technology and a commitment to furthering skills.

Sudy Bharadwaj is a co-founder and the CEO of Jackalope Jobs, a platform that helps job seekers find a job via their social networks. Learn how Sudy and Jackalope Jobs obsess over job seekers by connecting with them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.