Are you considering leaving the military within the next few years? Transitioning from military to civilian employment isn’t easy, but a good plan will make it much easier.
Take the time to compile a checklist, to expedite your transition strategically from military service to “civvie street.” The 18 month timeline allows for identifying any barriers to employment, and possible gaps in your educational background.
18 Months Prior to Your Departure Date
Clarify what you want to do (NOT what you can do) in your upcoming civilian career. It’s important to choose 3 skills that you want to use. Do some career self-assessments with the help of a career professional. The essential points are:
- Your interests
- Your passions
- Your work style and personality
- Your transferable skills
- Your motivators
- Your intuition
Take a Personal Inventory
Record your milestones and accomplishments in the military. Refer back to performance evaluations and look for any patterns in key words that led to your successes.
Start Career Goal Setting and Action Planning
Are you looking for a similar job to what you did in the military? A different job? A similar industry, field or occupation? If you are unclear about what job titles represent what you did in the military, check out www.Onet.org to find equivalent job titles.
It’s also a good idea to subscribe to career and job search blogs. The current civilian workforce is the most competitive ever! Soak up all the information you can about the current civilian workforce.
6 – 4 Months Prior to Your Departure Date From Military Service
Seek out recruiters, head hunters and employment counsellors. You can find recruiters, head hunters and hiring managers on Twitter and Linkedin. Follow these individuals. As for employment counsellors, they generally work at Fleet and Family Support Centers, Army ACAP, and Airman & Family Readiness Centers.
Equally helpful is to get a mentor, who has already made a successful transition into the private or government sector. Mentors offer the unique advantage of imparting invaluable information, such as helping you to familiarize yourself with “civilian/corporate culture.” As a transitioning military member, it is in your best interest to become familiar with the “new” culture.
4 Months Prior to Your Separation Date
Seek a career coach to act as an accountability partner for achieving your short-term and long-term goals. Research has proven that hiring a career coach will result in your landing a satisfying job or career faster than the usual route of going it alone in a job search
3 Months Before Departure Date
Start removing your military uniform mentally. Accept the fact that you are either entering the civilian workforce or releasing from the military for medical reasons. Leaving the military is likely to affect you physically and psychologically; it has been your identity for 20-30 years.
Learn how to demilitarize your military resume. It is imperative that you create a resume that a civilian employer can understand. Civilian employers do not understand military buzzwords, acronyms or abbreviations. Likewise, attend as many career transition workshops as you can, while you are still on base. Develop your unique selling points to market yourself in the civilian job market.
Start Preparing for Civilian Interviews
Clearly, the military interview is diametrically opposed to the civilian format. Be prepared for the behavioural interviewing format, where employers ask questions related to the past that may help them decide what your present or future performance may be. Practise your answers with a career coach or career professional. Inquire about interviewing strategies that will distinguish you from your competition.
Create Multiple Social Media Profiles
Employers and hiring managers are using social media sites to search for active and passive job search candidates. Unless you establish a social media presence, you may be viewed as not conversant with technology and with current hiring trends. That’s where creating social media accounts that showcase your worth and unique selling points comes in. Get acquainted with one of the “power trio,” Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook. Choose one social media site to master and market yourself strategically.
You have a new life beyond the uniform. Shape your new identity and move forward!