3 Job Searching Steps When Transitioning from Military Life to Civilian

Getting a job can be one of the returning veteran’s hardest challenges. Translating military skills and experience into civilian terminology is hard, but it can be done.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Ideally, you would be able to prepare for civilian life while you’re still in the service. Make sure to enroll in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which gives armed forces members access to employment information and training within 180 days of separation. Ask about VA benefits, request letters of recommendation, and try to get all your paperwork taken care of ahead of time. Work on your resume and LinkedIn profile and keep in mind that military slang won’t track in civilian life. Update your resume to match the job requirements.

Skill Up

Do you have the skills for the kind of civilian career that you want? Does your competition have more education? Consider taking classes, getting a certificate, or getting a degree. Now is the time to figure out what would work best for you in the long term. Make sure that any college or certification you choose comes from a well-respected school that’s accredited. Consider taking CLEP or DANTES exams for skills you already have, but might not be able to prove on paper.

Don’t Be Afraid to Network

While the armed forces discourage socializing to complete a task, you need to recognize that civilian life often requires socializing. Extend your network through LinkedIn to attract new professional contacts, and make sure to add a professional profile picture to your page. Don’t focus only on people at the top, because other people can also influence your career. Engage with all types of people at all types of levels in the career path of your choice.

Final Thought

You could feel a sense of culture shock when you return, but it will get better with enough patience and effort. Don’t expect everything to come together at once. Think of this as the long term strategic plan to accomplish your mission, with many pieces in play.

5 Job Seeking Tips for Military Spouses

Revamp Your Resume

Milspouses should consider using a resume format that isn’t chronological. While free templates seem like a good idea, they can be very basic and hard to individualize. Try using a functional resume or a combination resume instead of a chronological format, since you’re promoting your skills first. If you’ve had lapses in employment, a functional resume is your best best because it focuses on your skills and experience first, de-emphasizing the dates in which you have worked. Be sure to include any volunteer work you may have done, as that also counts as experience.

Don’t Use Military Acronyms

Spell all the words all the way out at least once, since you might be interviewed by a civilian. Be prepared to translate anything you don’t spell out.

Filling In The Gaps

If your struggle is in the frequent moves and job changes, it’s best to be up front with your employer if they ask. You can avoid looking like a short-timer by not listing the months on your work history and this can keep you from being tempted not to stretch the truth.

Consider Online School or Training

If you can’t find anything that might be helpful around your area, consider going back to school online or taking some in-person training for an extra certificate. Today’s tech environment means that you can start, continue, and finish a college degree without having to set foot in a classroom. Many state and private colleges offer entirely online degrees.

Consider Contract Work

Contract work can be long-term temporary or go permanent, depending on what you and the company are looking for, and it’s a great way to try a new position out without having to commit to anything long-term. We have a wide variety of positions open across country, are military friendly, and open to having a discussion. Preview our openings at https://jobs.uspro.net/#/jobs

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