Going through the process of a career change can be tricky for anybody but transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce can be even more daunting. Whether you have memories of civilian work before you enrolled in military service or the army career is the only one you’ve ever known, the good news is that employment rates for veterans are looking up, with unemployment rates down to 3.6% in 2017 from 4.3% in 2016. Still, changing from a military to a civilian career often involves learning new skills, determining where the ones you possess will be useful, and working towards new qualifications to help improve your employment prospects. The good news is that military service is a highly respected career, and there are several ways to use this to your advantage when finding a civilian job. We’ve listed some top tips for a smooth transition.
“Start with veterans who are now in the corporate world. Don’t rush to ask for a job. If there’s no job available, the remaining time becomes one big letdown. Instead, take time to know the person. Ask how they approached the transition from a military to civilian career.” – military.com
#1. Work Towards a New Qualification:
There’s no need to wait until you’ve officially left your post to start working on gaining new qualifications for the future. Thanks to specially designed online military degree programs, you can fit studying around your army duty, spending time with family and working on any other personal goals. You can choose programs that allow you to build on the skills you’ve developed as a military service member, such as public safety and security, fire and emergency management, or public safety and security. If you want to try something new and pursue a complete career change, options such as business administration, health science, or information technology could be ideal for you.
#2. Determine Your Transferable Skills:
Veterans tend to come with highly developed skill-sets that can be put to great use in a wide range of industries, including public safety and security, telecommunications, management, administration, and many more. However, according to military degree programs, a huge sixty percent of veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq reported having trouble transferring their military skill-sets to civilian work. Think about the various tasks that you’ve been handed during your military career. Which skills were needed to execute them correctly and efficiently? Some examples of skills that tend to be apparent in veterans include communication, coordination, time management, technical skills, and working well under immense pressure. All of these are widely sought after in the civilian job market!
#3. Look for Military-Friendly Opportunities:
The good news for veterans is that several employers recognize the skills and qualities that military service can help you develop, and actively seek out ex-service members to work for them. Some examples of employers who actively recruit veterans include Amazon, Verizon, and Microsoft, amongst many more. Seeking out opportunities with employers who habitually take on veterans is an excellent way to ease yourself into a civilian career. Not only will these employers be better equipped to accommodate you and harness your skills, you’ll also likely be placed with co-workers who also previously served; they can offer advice and mentorship as you get used to your new working environment.
#4. Get Used to Speaking Like a Civilian:
Getting used to speaking the civilian ‘language’ can be a particularly large hurdle for many veterans, particularly those who have served in the military for a long time. However, it’s essential in order to effectively communicate with your potential employers to ensure that you’ll be able to fit in with the corporate culture of whichever career path you have chosen. To do this, you’ll need to avoid military jargon, and take the time to military degree programs into a language that civilian employers will recognize and understand. It can be difficult to drop old habits such as using military time or addressing others as Sir or Ma’am but doing so will ensure a smoother transition. You may want to have a trusted civilian friend or relative look over your resume and cover letter before you apply for a role.
#5. Boost Your Networking Efforts:
Last but not least, getting out there and networking as much as you can help you familiarize yourself with your chosen civilian industry, along with helping you to stand out from the crowd. Although you can apply for almost any job online from the comfort of your home, bear in mind that most employers are bombarded with thousands of online applications, so it’s easy to get lost in a sea of resumes. The good news is that you don’t have to go out of your way to attend networking events – you can network online by setting up or updating your profile on LinkedIn, which is a great tool for connecting with both potential employers and fellow veterans who’ve found success in a corporate career. Follow companies, professionals, and events in your chosen industry – highly targeted networking produces better connections.
Did you find these tips useful? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.