Transitioning From The Military To A Civilian Career
Take the leap transitioning from the military to a civilian career!
My dad served in two branches of the military and had a difficult time making the transition from his military career to his civilian one. No matter how many battles you’ve encountered as a U.S. soldier, you will have to encounter yet another: entering one of the most discouraging job markets in American history.
GET READY Give yourself a simple three ring binder with sheet protectors and a spiral notebook. Use this folder and notebook as your career book by placing any career/job materials and print outs you come upon. Write down the names of people, places, appointment times, and information sources as you pursue your job search and career building project.
Organize and label your computer files in such a way that every saved document or form is in its place. This includes website bookmarks. Make sure that your electronic and paper trail are tracked, so you don’t lose important and helpful information.
Once everyone you love knows that you’re working on a serious, important project – getting a great job – they will be more open to changes and understanding towards your efforts. They might even keep their eyes and ears open to any opportunities that can help you make a smooth career transition. If you need help, be sure to ask. Teamwork is vital at every stage of the job hunt.
GIVE YOURSELF TIME Give yourself 18 to 24 months time to begin planning your career change. You don’t have to go into a gung-ho career planning and job search mode, but it’s advantageous if you began researching career counselors, taking job-personality tests, and taking gathering facts about your job history and education.
Organize your time carefully. Break down quarterly objectives, daily and weekly job searching schedules, and completion dates. Keep yourself accountable and focused. Stay dedicated even if you don’t immediately see results.
Take the first five months to access yourself and to imagine your civilian career. Take notes about your desires, record your ideas, and share them with a professional who can help guide you to the right job.
NETWORK In addition to telling your close friends and family about your career ambitions, reconnect with old civilian friends. Start by asking them about their work and how they got into it, whether or not they enjoy it, and what kind of lifestyle they live as a result.
Networking serves multi purposes: • Allows you to conduct job research without having to actually do the job in question. • Gets you used to talking about your job search and your career aspirations. • Exposes you to old friends and new faces while building your confidence. • Opens up opportunities to talk about career prospects.
GET HELP Find and work with a career counselor or a resume writer, a friend or relative who is has made the transition, or someone who can help you create a plan for success. Be sure to enlist at least one person who is dedicated to helping you create your professional image and motivated to get you prepared to find a job.
This person can keep you focused, hold you accountable, remind you of your goals, and can remind you what you’re doing this for! Not to mention, it feels great to have a cheer leader who believes in you and can help you keep your energy high so that you shine bright!
TRANSLATE YOUR WORK EXPERIENCE Believe it or not, you actually do have a lot of transferable work skills. Transferable skills are those that you can take from job to job. Transferable job skills are those such as the ability to confront others, writing concisely, conducting research, counseling, and delegating responsibility. Odds are, you’ve picked up quite a few transferable skills without even realizing it!
I’ve had a few clients who were afraid that their resume couldn’t present a marketable image. After completing my thorough resume questionnaire and working with me to create their resume, they were absolutely thrilled to see how much work, volunteer, and life experience they had, not to mention how many sills and abilities they could offer. Never underestimate yourself!
Be sure to hire a resume writer who can understand who you are as a person and as a professional. He/She will be able to make you shine on your resume.
EXPAND YOUR EDUCATION AND TRAINING If you have a limited education or if you are considering a different industry, research what it would take to continue your education. How much will it cost, how much time and dedication will it require, and what other opportunity costs will you have to consider for more education?
Do you only require skills training? Must you obtain a license? Research the required education, professional training, and certifications it takes to do the job you’re interested in pursuing. If you aren’t sure, talk with a guidance counselor at the school. Research the school’s website and other promotional material.
PRACTICE AND PREPARE Practice interviewing and making follow up calls. Get comfortable with talking with friends about yourself and your career. Become effective at speaking about yourself and explaining your career in a logical, concise manner. The more you practice, the easier and less stressful interviewing and communicating with potential employers will become.
Be sure to avoid using military jargon. Most human resources directors do not know what a Non-Commissioned Officer is. Nor do they understand the importance of managing a squadron munitions account.
LOOK IN THE RIGHT PLACES Check out recruiters who hire military personnel like http://www.recruitmilitary.com/ or federal jobs at USAjobs.com. Take the time to meet with local recruiters and job search agencies in your desired location.
Make it a habit to read the local newspaper classifieds or business journals and notice hiring trends in your area long before you actually start job hunting. Even go to job fairs. Job fairs can be difficult as they can be over run with applicants eagerly looking for work, but it doesn’t hurt to get yourself out there and practice civilian social skills.
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