8 Tips for a Successful Military to Civilian Career Transition

Success Ahead

Success AheadIt’s always a good feeling to be surrounded by your family, safe and sound at home. Getting your ducks in order for your career transition may be somewhat tricky. You’re so used to the way you’ve been doing things, and now your landscape has drastically changed. Before you attempt to enter the civilian workforce, hit the ground with a functional plan.

1. Set Yourself Up In Advance

Instead of scrambling at the last minute to get everything together, prepare for your transition as far as one year in advance. Start researching your options, investigating employers with a strong stance regarding military support, and look at what educational opportunities are available to you. If you require any kind of schooling or qualifications to work in your desired field, have those arrangements made before you even return home.

2. Clean Up Your Virtual Remnants

Personal social media profiles often contain the kind of things you wouldn’t want an employer to know about. Delete old accounts that have been floating around the internet for ages and clean up your current accounts. Always check your privacy settings to make sure your posts can’t be seen by people you haven’t approved a connection with. Consider making a second profile specifically for professional purposes.

3. Create a Resume

Your resume should include all of your education and civilian work experiences from before your military service. In addition to that information, you should explain as much about your military service as possible. What did you learn in the military? What were your job duties? Everything you did in the military counts as valid job experience. Employers love diligent and independent employees, so feel free to show how your military training has shaped you.

4. Start Networking

Old classmates, former coworkers, and military buddies can be a lot of help to you. Using social media or even an old-fashioned phone call, find out what everyone else is doing for employment. Ask around about openings, and see if anyone would be willing to put in a good word for you. Investigate employers’ online presences and see who you can meet in your desired industries. Build professional connections.

5. Refine Your Business Language

You probably have some habits to break. In your recent past, speaking to someone in a respectful and professional manner was vastly different from how you would be expected to speak to someone in a business environment. While it’s not rude to use military speak with a potential employer, it may translate as a little awkward. Lose your military voice, and find your business voice to improve your communication skills.

6. Use Your Skills to Your Advantage

You’re used to working at a perfectionist’s standards at an Olympic runner’s pace. You are focused, determined, and strong. Don’t leave that mindset in the barracks. Use those traits to your advantage when starting your job search, and demonstrate those abilities to your employer. That’s exactly what they want to see.

7. Consider Using a Professional or a Workshop

If you’re running into a lot of speedbumps, consider going to a job recruitment workshop or seeking the advice of a professional job coach who works with former military members. These resources are here to help you by answering any questions you may have and giving you productive leads. If things aren’t working at a desirable pace, take that helping hand.

8. Make Sure You’re Adapted

Are you sure you want to throw yourself into the workforce right away? You should make sure you’re fully acclimated to home life before you start adding layers of complication. Make sure you’ve spent time with your family and experienced some quality rest and relaxation. Overwhelming yourself with daunting tasks won’t make your homecoming feel warm. Spend a decent amount of time getting a feel for civilian life if you’re not sure you can handle your job search yet.

You’ve been through a lot, and you deserve to find a civilian job you’re satisfied with. Utilize the support around you, clear your head, and approach everything with a calm focus.

Tess Pajaron is a Community Manager at Open Colleges – a company offering a variety of courses to those who are planning to change their careers.