10 Tips from ESEL for Your Military-to-Civilian Transition

Jun 08, 2023

Transitioning from military service to civilian employment can be a significant change, but with careful planning and preparation, you can find a job that aligns with your skills and interests. Here are some steps to help you navigate the process of finding a job after retiring from the military:

  1. Self-assessment: Take time to evaluate your skills, experiences, and interests. Consider your strengths, areas of expertise and any specialized training you received during your military service. Identify your transferable skills that are valuable in the civilian job market.
  2. Research: Explore various industries, job roles, and career paths that interest you. Consider the qualifications, education, and experience required for those roles. Use online resources, such as job boards, industry-specific websites, and professional networking platforms, to gather information about job opportunities and the skills in demand.
  3. Translate your military experience: Military jargon and acronyms may not be familiar to civilian employers. Learn to communicate your military experience in a way that highlights relevant skills and accomplishments to non-military audiences. Focus on transferable skills like leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, organization, and adaptability.
  4. Networking: Build a strong professional network by connecting with fellow veterans, industry professionals, and civilians who can provide guidance and potential job leads. Attend career fairs, and industry events, and join professional associations relevant to your target field. Networking can provide valuable insights, referrals, and access to unadvertised job opportunities.
  5. Update your resume: Tailor your resume to reflect your civilian job goals. Emphasize relevant skills, experiences, and achievements. Highlight any additional certifications, courses, or degrees you have earned during your military service or retirement.
  6. Job search strategies: Utilize various job search strategies to find suitable opportunities. These can include online job boards, company websites, recruiting agencies, and government resources specifically designed to support veterans' job searches. Leverage your network to uncover hidden job openings.
  7. Prepare for interviews: Practice interviewing techniques, especially for civilian job interviews that may differ from military interviews. Research common interview questions, prepare thoughtful responses, and showcase how your military experience translates to the job you're applying for. Be prepared to discuss your transition from the military and how your skills align with the organization's needs.
  8. Take advantage of veteran resources: Several government programs and organizations provide support to veterans transitioning to civilian employment. These resources offer career counseling, resume assistance, skills translation, job placement assistance, and education and training opportunities. Examples include the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) and the Transition Assistance Program (TAP).
  9. Further education or training: Consider pursuing additional education or training to enhance your skills or meet specific job requirements. Look into educational benefits available to veterans, such as the GI Bill, which can help cover the cost of education or vocational training.
  10. Maintain a positive mindset: The job search process can be challenging, and it may take time to find the right opportunity. Stay persistent, remain positive, and be open to exploring different avenues. Continue to learn and adapt as you navigate your transition to the civilian workforce.

Remember, the transition from military service to civilian employment is unique to each individual. Developing a personalized plan and seeking support from resources available to veterans in your country or region is essential.