How to Begin the Transition from Military to Civilian Jobs

One of the most important facets of any service member’s life is the transition out. Especially as it pertains to finding a job, the transition from a military to civilian career will require planning and preparation. So how do you begin this transition?

Identify What will Affect your Transition
• How well you have prepared yourself prior to leaving the service?
• What type of job do you want to pursue?
• What is your location flexibility?
• What is your family status?

Three Keys for Preparing Yourself for Transition

I speak regularly with service members who tell me that they want a job that’s different from those they’ve performed in the military. How do you prepare for a job you’ve never done before?

1) Start planning your career before leaving the service. Don’t wait until you are about to leave the service before you start planning for the type of career you want. Explore industries and job options early, then narrow down your options. Get the training you need in advance, whether that is a degree, a certification, internship experience – or all of the above.

2) Determine the skills you’ll need to distinguish yourself. While everyone in the military has a job to do, there is a significant shortage of jobs in the civilian world. What will set you apart in your job search? The answer is your military service, degree-specific training, applicable certifications, and work experience.

3) Start interviewing before you leave the service. Don’t wait until the last minute to research where the jobs are and what fields are hiring. The best of all worlds is to be hired and have the job waiting for you before you get out.

Personal Traits can Create Advantages

• Companies like to hire veterans. Many companies like to hire former service members because they know the military teaches teamwork, discipline, responsibility for starting and completing a project, and leadership. Identify personal examples of where you contributed to your mission or service in these areas.
• Ability to relocate is an advantage. If you are flexible in where you relocate, you could have another advantage. It can be a significant incentive for an employer to consider you when they know that the military will pay to move you to their location.
• Consider family interests. Don’t leave your spouse and family out of the planning process. When you consider potential jobs, take into account schools, health insurance, and lifestyle for them. The better you plan for their move, the more likely they will have a successful transition, too.

Transition Resources are Available

There are many resources available to help you think about and plan your transition. Here are a few good ones:
• Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/tap/main.htm (Note DOL offers this program in conjunction with DoD and VA)
• Military.com: http://transitionstories.military.com/2009/07/11-things-i-figured-out-about-the-civilian-workforce.html
• Veteran Affairs: http://www.oefoif.va.gov/
• Military transition consultant: http://www.bradley-morris.com/MilitarytoCivilianTransition.html

Remember the three keys to transition success: Degrees. Certifications. Experience. American Sentinel can help you with the training you need for an accredited degree or I.T. certification. Your military and off-duty efforts can provide the experience.

I invite you to add your suggestions and experiences about transitioning and finding a new career.