U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex Corona

Many of the Department of the Army civilians I had worked with and a large number of my veteran friends signed out of the military on terminal leave on a Friday and started a new job on Monday. But that wasn’t me after I left the Army.

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U.S. Army photo.

With over 250 million profiles, LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool for veterans and transitioning service members. But to use it effectively, you need to think a little less conventionally about your job hunt. Too many people mistake the process of applying to jobs as the only way to get a job. The truth is, getting a job is about positioning, networking, and standing out from the crowd. Here are five ways you can use LinkedIn to better position yourself.

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Photo by Nathan Herring

Networking is the single most important skill to help ensure that you get a serious look from hiring managers in a weak economy. Unfortunately, it is also somewhat misunderstood. On the surface, networking may just look a lot like meeting and having conversations with people who do stuff that interests you --- or worse, that doesn’t interest you --- and there’s some truth to that. However, in the purest sense, networking is about building rapport, having substantive conversations, and finding commonalities with other professionals in a limited amount of time. Most importantly, when done properly, networking is neither sleazy nor forced. With practice, you can explain yourself to people in compelling ways and develop the starting points for new professional relationships in only a few minutes.Here are some key points that I wish I had known when I started out on my transition into the civilian economy several years ago:

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As a veteran, one of your greatest resources is the professional network you've built during your years of service. Many veterans – likely some who you know – have gone on to find great success in the civilian world. Whether you’re looking for a leg up on your job search or you’re just looking for more connections and a wider net of opportunities, utilizing this resource can be of great benefit to you.

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