A military career has a shelf life. Eventually, it will come to an end. Taking off the uniform for the last time is a mixed bag of emotions; anxiety, confusion, joy, nostalgia, triumph, satisfaction.
Whether you are retiring after thirty years or separating after two, leaving the military and entering the civilian workforce can be challenging. The language and work culture in the private sector is very different from what you have grown to expect from the military. Making the transition from the military to the professional world requires decision making, planning, and executing which are concepts you learned while serving so leverage these skills and experience to land your next job!
What is your civilian MOS?
As a member of the US military, you received outstanding training in your field, you are skilled and proficient, but how do you turn your military MOS into a civilian job? Some MOS’s transfer more seamlessly than others to civilian jobs. For example, an MP could easily transition to law enforcement however a Navy Corpsman doesn’t necessarily translate to EMT.
Regardless of your MOS, use the remaining time in service to make yourself more marketable. Spend time researching industries and job descriptions you are interested in pursuing. Do you need additional education, certification or licenses? Do you have the experience needed for the career you desire? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, now is the time to begin mapping out a plan to complete education (take advantage of your GI Bill and Tuition Assistance if you plan to stay in longer), test for certifications (there are tons of free certs for veterans/AD members), or seek out opportunities to fill in experience gaps (SkillBridge provides opportunities to gain experience in many fields).
Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail
We have all heard this saying, it may be cliché, but it is very true. Without a solid plan, things don’t get done. Plans allow for clear goals, steps to complete your goals and help to see the holes which need to be filled or addressed in order to reach these goals. When planning for post-military life deciding your career path is only the first step.
You will need to create a civilian-friendly resume which highlights your experience and accomplishments. Look to your military evaluation reports to help list your accomplishments and responsibility. Create a LinkedIn account to begin networking with other veterans and folks in your desired industry, the best way to find a job is through your network. LinkedIn offers a one-year free LinkedIn Premium membership to veterans so take advantage of it. Begin honing your interview skills, build your elevator speech which gives employers a brief explanation of who you are (professional) and what you bring to a company. Practice interviewing with a buddy or spouse, the more experience you have interviewing the more comfortable you will be when it comes time for an actual interview. Creating a plan will lead to a successful transition.
Address the Holes in Your Plan
When creating your post military career plan consider whether you will need additional training/education to reach your career goals, if so, how much time needs to be invested? If you are relocating after retirement factor in relocation costs (this military moves your HHG, but base housing is will no longer be an option). Will the income from your career be the only income for your family? What are your current financial obligations and what will be your future obligations? Will you have children living with you at the time of retirement? Will they be heading to college soon after retirement? These are just some of the holes that need to be addressed when making your post military career plan.
Your exit from the military is the jumping off point to your new career. Having a plan in place makes the transition smoother. If you find yourself creating your post military career plan and feel you may need help reaching your career goals CASY will be happy to help!
Written by: Amanda Marksmeier, Employment Specialist