If you’re reading this, I assume you’re either (1) a military veteran who is thinking about making the transition into a civilian life or (2) someone who knows one. If you’re in either of those groups, this article is for you. It’s going to teach you all about marketing your military veteran career online.
Join Online Communities
One of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re transitioning out of the military is to join online communities of military veterans. There are many communities designed specifically for military veterans, but you can also find communities for transitioning service members in almost any niche. In today’s world, everyone is connected to the internet, so it’s the perfect place to connect with interested parties.
Create Your Own Personal Brand
When you join an online community, you are given a certain amount of freedom to develop your personal brand. This is how you want others to perceive you—as an individual who is knowledgeable and interesting, and someone who is capable of helping others. Your personal brand will be your platform; everything you post on social media channels will be seen as part of your brand. So, it’s important to build a social media following (you can use tools like Hootsuite to help with this) and engage with your audience. Join relevant groups and answer questions frequently. Show that you’re a subject matter expert and someone people want to follow.
Build Your Network
Your network is a collection of people you trust to provide honest feedback and solid advice. This is very important in the marketing world because people rarely give you money for nothing. They expect you to give them something in return. So, it’s important to build a network of trusted individuals who can provide value. Start by building a small network of friends and family members who can help you find your feet as a marketer. Once you have a small network, look for people and businesses that you can connect with to further build your network.
Understand The Military And Commercial Markets
One of the things you need to understand when marketing yourself as a military veteran is that you’re competing in a completely different arena. The military market is very selective, and you have to have an exceptional skill set to make the transition successfully. Once you’re in, you’re expected to serve the country for four years and can’t really be considered complete until you’ve served that time. After you’ve completed your military service, you’re considered “post-9/11” and are given significant additional opportunities. This is what makes the military market so distinct—you have to be ready to jump at the chance to serve your country, but you also have to be able to stand on your own two feet after your service is complete.
Create A Business Plan
Like any other business, you need to have a vision for what you’re going to do with your life and a plan to get there. In the case of military veterans, it’s important to understand that you might not be able to rely on the government for financial support. That said, you can start small and build your way up. Many successful military veterans started with little more than an idea and the willingness to work hard. The best plan is one that you’re able to follow through on—the more you can elaborate on your goals and plans, the more you’ll be able to inspire confidence in potential employers.
Market To The Right Audience
The first thing you need to do to successfully market your military veteran career is to determine who the right audience is for your product. In the case of military veterans, you’re competing for jobs in a highly selective market, so it’s important to reach out to potential employers and show that you’re ready and able to work. When you do land a job, your first port of call should be LinkedIn—this is where you want to build your professional network. From there, you can move onto other networks like Twitter and Facebook to further expose yourself to your target audience.
Create Media Placements
The second thing you need to do to successfully market your military veteran career is to create media placements. Ideally, you would like to get your name out there as much as possible so that when a hiring manager or recruiter Googles your name, they see a positive image that encourages them to contact you. Create content like case studies and written pieces that you can distribute online. Videos are also excellent—if you’re able to, create a short video that showcases your work that you can use as part of your media kit.
Distribute Your Media
The best way to gain credibility with potential employers is to distribute your media—this is where you get your name out there and so that people see your work and know who you are. Ideally, you want your work to be seen by as many people as possible, so take your pick from the following:
- Article directory sites like EzineArticles.com
- Media-sharing sites like Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and Thought Catalog
- Blog networks like Blogger, WordPress, and Medium
- Online forums like Quora
- Social media networks like Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn
Build A Personal Brand
The more you do to market yourself as a military veteran, the stronger your personal brand will become. You want people to know exactly who you are and what you can do. Having a personal brand allows you to set yourself apart from other candidates—people will know exactly what you can offer because they know exactly who you are. You can further develop and strengthen your personal brand by doing the following:
- Establishing and maintaining a blog / vlog
- Creating a podcast
- Participating in online forums like Quora and Reddit
- Attending and contributing to meet-ups with bloggers, journalists, and other content creators
- Leveraging social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to grow your network
- Getting out there and meeting face-to-face with potential employers and clients
Use The Right Metaphors
A big mistake that many veterans make is that they try and force their military experiences into their civilian lives. Don’t be concerned about fitting in or making people understand what you’ve been through—that’s not the purpose of this article. Instead, use your unique experiences to inspire and guide you as you start your new life. Remember that your audience (your potential employers) is more on the receptive side than they might appear—everyone is social media-aware, and people want to feel that they can connect with someone who understands what they’re going through. So, use your military experiences as a springboard to inspire your work in marketing—you might just land yourself a job that you love.