They say you can take a person out of the military, but you can never take the military out of a person. Once a military man (or woman), always a military man (or woman)!
That’s perhaps one of the reasons that so many military veterans find it difficult to get integrated into the mainstream. For them, getting used to the civilian way of life is a huge adjustment and added to that is the burden of finding suitable employment in the non-military world.
As hard as career transition is for us, it’s a hundred times harder for military veterans. According to a report published on militaryauthority.com, two-thirds of the post-9/11 military veterans who participated in a survey conducted by Prudential admitted to struggling with three or more challenges to employment.
While the survey found veterans running into several issues when trying to transition into the civilian workforce, what’s of interest is that 28 percent reported that employers did not believe they had the relevant skill sets for the job.
Though that’s a disturbing trend, it’s also an easily fixable problem. Career training is one of the most effective and reliable ways to make a smooth move into a new profession – whether you’re a civilian worker or a military veteran.
Making the transition: How to start
The good news, and I mean very good news, is that military veterans have various resources and assistance programs at their disposal to make the transition into civilian workforce that much smoother.
One of them is the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS). It’s an agency created by the Department of Labor to assist veterans in transitioning from military to civilian life, train for (and find) good jobs, and protect the employment and reemployment rights of veterans.
There are many other programs, such as the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP) and the Local Veterans Employment Program (LVER), that provide an excellent starting point for military veterans looking to begin life afresh in the civilian world.
With the assistance of these programs, military veterans should ideally be able to figure out the next steps in their post-military life with no trouble!
Making the transition: Do the groundwork
The same set of career transition principles apply whether you’re a military veteran or a civilian professional. First up, you need to identify your areas of interest. It’s very important to find out what type of work interests you and will continue to hold your interest over the long term
Second, start making a list of all your skills, talents, and experiences from your military life that can be used in a civilian job. It’s all about being able to market your skills in a civilian industry. You need to leverage your existing skills as much as possible, but don’t shy away from going back to school if you need to acquire new ones for your desired job.
How going back to school for a career training program also helps is that it provides a link between the military and the professional world. Not only do you acquire new skills, but you also get a hang of the professional life in the civilian world before putting yourself out in the job market.
The other benefit of these career training programs is that unlike college degrees, they are short, succinct, focused, and hands-on. You’ll not find yourself lost in a sea of courses, nor require more readjustment after years of schooling!
Making the transition: Take the leap
Once you have identified professions that interest you and got yourself the required skills through career training, you need to put together a powerful resume as well as a solid covering letter. Have your references ready for sharing with potential employees.
Leverage the social media as much as you can to connect with professionals in the industry, but also go out there and network with people in person. There’s just no replacement for a firm handshake, a confident gait, and eye contact.
As a military veteran, you are entitled to various educational benefits – financial and other kinds – to help you transition into civilian life. From tuition assistance to career counseling and from resume writing to job placements – the military makes sure its people are provided all the help they need at this important turn of their life. It is up to you to make the best use of these benefits.
According to the Labor Department, the unemployment rate for veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces since September 2001 was 9 percent in 2013 – a whole 2 percent higher than the joblessness rate for civilian population in the same period.
It’s time to bridge the gap and bridge it you can!