Leaving the Military: Transitioning into a Civilian Career

Are you planning to separate from the military and shift into a civilian life? Regardless of how many years you’ve been in service, coming back to an everyday, noncombatant routine is going to feel a little bizarre. And that’s especially true as you start looking into a civilian career. If you’re ready to break into the working world, then being prepared and doing your research is key. Follow our tips below to set yourself up for post-military career success.

Don’t Underestimate the Transition Process

According to SHRM, nearly 360,000 U.S. veterans leave the service annually. That means that there’s a large group of people, including yourself, looking to make a career transition as seamlessly as possible, but also feeling overwhelmed with deciding what steps to take first. If you haven’t already, now is the time to attend the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Signed into law in 2011 under the Veterans Opportunity to Work and Hire Heroes Act (VOW), the program is a requirement for service members separating from the military. TAP provides information, tools and training to ensure service members and their families are prepared for the next steps in civilian life, including pursuing additional education and finding a job in the public or private sector. Not fully taking advantage of this free program may prevent you from talking to the right people, discovering the right resources, and finding your footing as you begin searching for a job.

Start with the Basics to Create a Powerful Resume

If you’ve never created a resume before, don’t panic. Many veterans haven’t, but you’ve probably created something similar through a Field Service Record to detail your qualifications, training and experience. If you need help building a resume, our writing experts are here to help. We’ve worked with numerous service members to create clear connections between their capabilities and an employer’s needs, and make their resumes stand out above the rest.

Learn How to Translate Your Military Skills into Civilian Terms

Explaining to potential employers what you did during your service in a way that makes sense can be difficult. If you’re applying for a career in the defense industry, you may not need to spend a great deal of time translating your skills because they generally understand what you’re saying in your resume or in an interview. But if you’re not applying for that type of job, keep in mind that there are a lot of people who have never worn a uniform and may not fully understand your accomplishments if you don’t explain them in relatable terms.

Documentation like VMETs (Verification of Military Experience and Training), evaluation reports, and training certificates are all powerful tools to showcase your achievements. Highlighting metrics that benchmark your successes are valuable, too, such as how you managed budgets with equipment and supply inventories. When it comes to verbiage, avoid using military jargon or obscure acronyms and abbreviations. Instead, translate your words so that anyone not familiar with your experience understands what you’re describing. And if you’re unsure where to begin, Military.com has a nice list of examples to help you get started.

Our Career Coaches Are Ready to Help!

Like we mentioned previously, MJW Careers has helped many veterans transition into a civilian profession, especially when it comes to translating military language to civilian terms on resumes and in preparation for interviews. One of our favorite success stories is when we assisted an armed forces veteran who applied for a federal job. We reformatted her resume per USAJOBS standards, and it didn’t take long for her to get the position she applied for. By working through the job search process with her, her stress and anxiety from PSTD was tremendously reduced and she was able to find her dream job as a government contractor. She continues to grow professionally, and we couldn’t be happier for her!

If you’re ready to reenter the civilian working world, our career coaches are here to be your guide. Simply contact us, and we’ll set you on the road to professional success! And if you’re looking for an extra motivator to kickstart your new career, check out our ebook – How to Get UnUnEmployed: Fill That Calendar! 22 Daily Step-By-Step Ways and Daily Motivators to Kickstart Your Career and Find a Job in Under 6 Weeks (An Interactive Guide).

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