Tips for Transitioning to a Civilian Career
Post Military Career Planning – What You Need to Know

Veterans bring unique capabilities to the civilian workforce; however, they face unique challenges when looking for work. This includes how to translate their skills to civilian jobs and how to relay this experience to employers.

If you are a member of the military looking to find a job in the civilian field, here are some resources to help you plan for your post–military career.

Translate your skills. You will first want to determine which career field mirrors your military skills, and where the job opportunities lie. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook is a good resource. It outlines earnings, training, and job descriptions for different types of jobs.
Visit online job boards targeted to vets. Tailored to the veteran community, you can look at the type of job openings being posted by employers. You should take some time to review the skills and requirements employers are including in their job ads and determine if you are eligible for specific jobs. Another good resource is the Labor Department’s Military to Civilian Occupation Translator; this will further help outline the skills and experience needed for jobs of interest.
Contact career one stop centers. Along with searching for vet’s jobs online, be sure to visit one stop career centers in your state. They provide assistance to unemployed veterans, along with additional resources such career workshops.
Research training programs. If you require additional education and training, become aware of GI Bills you may be eligible for, such as the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 (VOW). VOW provides benefits for education and training to veterans looking to transition from a military career to a civilian job. Visit here for more information.
Join networking groups. Lastly, you can’t discount the importance of networking. If you have not built up your networking group, build one now – both online and off. Friends, family, civic organizations, to online networking forums such as LinkedIn, can connect you to job opportunities. Recruiting experts say that networking is one of the best ways to secure a job.
For more advice and information on planning for a civilian career, access our online resources, search our Veterans Job Board and read our career articles tailored to you.

Internet Resources to Help Transition to the Civilian Workforce

The internet is fertile ground to access resources to find a job. And best of all, the information is right at your fingertips – and most of it is free. From online job boards tailored to the veteran community, tools to help translate military jobs into civilian ones, and networking communities, you can access the vital resources you will need to find work. Where should you start? Here are some tips.
  1. Use the internet to help define your career path. Online job boards are one of the most effective tools as they can help you determine which jobs best suit your experience. Visit our Veteran Exchange today to look at the types of jobs employers are posting and the skills and experience they are including in their job ads. This will give you a good idea of what employers are seeking and any additional skills you need to acquire to land a new job.
  2. If you are having issues in determining which jobs fit your military skills, look to resources such as the Department of Labor’s Military to Civilian Occupation Translator. This is a helpful online tool that can translate military jobs into civilian ones. You simply add in your military job (i.e. mess cook) and it will translate it for you into "civilian–speak."
  3. You should always have a resume available. If you do not have one, or are unsure of how to start, the Internet is your best guide. From our online resume builder tools, which can help you craft a resume or cover letter, to researching sample resume templates online, you can update your resume to suit specific job requirements easily. And remember, when submitting your resume and cover letter you will continually need to update it to fit the position you are applying to.
  4. As we note in Post Military Career Planning – What You Need to Do, you also can’t discount the usefulness of networking. In fact, networking is one of the fastest pathways to gainful employment. And online platforms such as LinkedIn can connect you to members of the veteran’s job community, or other communities you can tap into to enhance your job prospects.

Goal Setting to Get the Right Job

In the military, your goals had to be sharp and clearly defined. The same holds true for civilian life. Goal setting is what everyone needs to do to guide and motivate them toward success; whether creating short–term or long–term goals.

Your goals can be financial in nature, those relating to your family all the way through to those pertaining to your career. Regardless of which goal you are trying to set, at the heart of each are basic principles of goals setting. And when it comes to achieving job success, there are certain steps you should take.
  • What do you want out of life? On the surface, this question may appear to be ambiguous and not work–related to your career, but in fact it is. When you define what you want out of life, all the other steps you need to take will fall into place. Do you want to spend more time with your family? A career where heavy travel is required may not be right for you. Do want to be challenged like you were in military service? A 9–to–5 desk job may not a good fit. Once you’ve outlined your life goals you can begin to map out a career that is more aligned to what you want.
  • What’s your career plan? From here you can begin to craft a career plan that is suitable to your life–plan, interests and strengths and weaknesses. Examining these areas lets you choose jobs that you can succeed at, while moving away from those that are not the best fit. Be realistic in your assessment and determine the steps you need to take and a realistic timeline to achieve each step and reach your goal.
  • Execute your plan. Now is the time to execute the specific steps to take to reach your career goal. You may need to update your resume. You may need to research job opportunities. You may need to network with people in the field you are looking to enter. Decide if you need to pursue additional training and how much time it will take to accomplish this task. Be specific about each detail required and clear in the steps you need to take to accomplish each one.
  • Measure and reassess. You will continually need to measure the success of each step that leads to your goal, and this may also involve re–evaluating what you need to do to achieve success.

As you take these measured steps, you will not only begin to see your goals realized but also ensure that the goals you are setting are aligned with what you want to achieve from life.