Today is Veterans Day, an often overlooked holiday (since it involves no candy or pumpkins; no turkey or football games). But it’s an important holiday, when we stop to remember and honor the men and women who have served in the armed forces, especially the many thousands wounded or killed. If not for their service and sacrifice, we’d be living in a very different world.
Those who wear the uniform don’t necessarily stay in the military forever. Most will eventually transition into the civilian workforce after serving their tours of duty. They may be looking to use newfound skills, or maybe go to college to take advantage of benefits provided them by the federal government under the GI Bill.
Not having served in the military, I can't offer firsthand experience about transitioning into the civilian job market. But I can offer some basic advice we can impart to those in uniform who, like any career changers, need to show prospective employers how their past experience can apply to a new position in a different arena.
Know how your skills can transfer into the private sector. Do you have successful leadership experience? If so, maybe a management position lies in your future. Figure out the industries and job roles that could accommodate someone with your skill set. Maybe you worked in logistics, engineering, or vehicle maintenance—those are all highly transferable skills.
If you need help focusing on a potential job role or industry, try these web sources:
Prepare a resume. Once you’ve figured out what you want and what industries and companies you’re targeting, make sure you prepare a resume that’s free of military jargon. If hiring managers can't understand the terminology on your resume, they won't understand how your skills can fit their needs.
Search the Web for resources that can help you translate military terms into language civilian employers can understand. Here are two other resources:
Consider outside help. If you’re having a hard time making the transition or devising a strategy, consider hiring a career coach, preferably one who has expertise in a military-to-civilian transition.
Meet others online and in person. Since news of many, if not most, job openings is passed around by word of mouth, it helps to network in person and online. Look up local networking groups and job search clubs, and take advantage of social networking sites such as LinkedIn.
If you’re a veteran–or not–what advice would you have for those making the transition into the civilian workforce? Add your views below.