Leveling the Entry-Level Playing Field for VeteransI recently had the opportunity to meet with a group of veterans who had just transitioned into the private sector. In visiting with some of these veterans who were in the military for more than eight years, I heard a recurring theme: Civilian employers do not look at the life experience of the job applicant's military service as on-the-job training. As a result, veterans end up in entry-level positions with entry-level pay while their college-educated private sector counterparts excel.

How can veterans better their chances of not only finding civilian employment, but securing a position that utilizes all of the skill sets obtained throughout a military career?

The best way to level the entry-level playing field is to put your military skills to work as you earn an accredited online degree.

Put your military skills to work.

Demonstrate your discipline and work ethic as you earn your degree.  Ask professors for letters of recommendation you can use to validate how your military training helped you excel in the classroom. Already have an associate degree under your belt? Consider pursuing your bachelor’s or even your master’s. When selecting a major you should, if possible, leverage your military background and experience. These two combined will help give you an edge as you transition and pursue a path that capitalizes on your experience.

Know your value.

Take inventory and examine your current skill sets. Make a list of the qualities and traits that you employed during your military career. Chances are those list items translate nicely not only into the classroom, but also into a private sector position. Pursuing your accredited online degree demonstrates your ability to manage a project (in this case, your degree!) and persevere.

Get ahead of the entry-level game and research potential employers.

When you are ready to transition back to civilian life, look at who is hiring former military service members. Many companies actively search for candidates with military experience for a multitude of reasons and some even offer tuition reimbursement. Check out companies that are considered Military Friendly and reach out to them as you continue your education.

Network with your peers in and out of the classroom.

Tools like RallyPoint and LinkedIn are great resources that allow you to stay connected to your classmates. Be sure to keep in touch with people you served with and let them know about your educational pursuits. If they have been successful in finding jobs with good career paths, don’t hesitate to ask how they’ve done it. These folks might be able to give you a recommendation to help you land an interview or even a position.

Change can be daunting and frustrating. An accredited online institution can help you prepare for some of that change or even help you in your current career situation. Grantham University offers a wide variety of flexible online courses and degree programs. A degree combined with military experience can build a very powerful resume for a prospective employer to consider. There is no time like the present to look to the future, so start planning now!