As Veterans prepare to transition out of the military, many challenges exist; challenges that make it more important than ever to prepare, define, network and strategize an objective for life in the civilian workforce! Fortunately, there are more resources available to veterans today, than ever before! In 2012, President Obama addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars and announced an overhaul of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to the new Transition GPS (set Goals, make Plans, achieve Success). Together, with the Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force, Transition GPS was launched to—as MilitarySpot.com defines it—empower our “separating service members to successfully transition to the civilian workforce, start a business, or pursue higher education.”
Roth Staffing Companies got in touch with Jonathan Boyd, a Marine for 10 years and current business analyst, for the top 10 career tips for Veterans. Being able to break the process down into component steps is important to job-hunting success. There were obvious hurdles to overcome, however, these proven tips, techniques and resources aided greatly in his transition—and hopefully will for you as well!
1) Prepare: You should be thinking about transitioning out well before you actually do. Think in terms of months or years, not weeks. Job searching is difficult and often takes a long time, and it’s even harder if your chosen career requires post-secondary education that you don’t yet possess. The key is to form at least a basic plan while understanding that it’s okay to re-strategize at any point. Preparation helps you get moving – stagnation is the only surefire path to trouble.
2) Equip: Every branch of the military provides programs and workshops to help service members transition into the civilian workforce. It’s tempting to kick up your boots, but the final few months of your service are some of the most critical to post-military success. The programs you’ll be exposed to are valuable opportunities to kick your plans into gear and ensure that you face the civilian job market with a good cache of search tools.
3) Define: One of the biggest problems veterans face is translating military jargon to corporate-speak. While the content of what you’re saying is important, you need to be able to use terminology and phrases that civilian employers will understand. If you’re a little lost on which civilian jobs dovetail with your former MOS, check out Military.com’s own military skills translator.
4) Utilize: Aside from workshops and expert advice, there are many financial benefits that the military offers. A recent analysis by Omaha.com showed that “only 36% of American Veterans use the GI Bill’s educational benefits.” College degrees aren’t a guarantee that you’ll land a career right out the door, but they do help a lot in your search and usually lead to higher paychecks.
5) Network: Many service members experience camaraderie in the military to a degree not often seen in the civilian world. Your transition is the perfect time to reach into the military network and start making connections with others. There are numerous groups and organizations that bring veterans together to help each other find jobs and stabilize life as a civilian.
6) Contact: It’s important to spread your options wide when it comes to searching for jobs. Contacting staffing agencies and other veteran-specific job search programs will give you access to professionals who know how the system works and most likely understand where you’re coming from.
7) Examine: In the world of social media, an unprofessional online presence can seriously curtail your job options. Whether it’s maintaining a modest profile and lowering public access or simply scrubbing your accounts of compromising behavior, make sure that when employers search for you on the internet, they’ll find a potential employee, not a loose cannon.
8) Mobilize: The military provides another huge advantage for veteran job seekers: help with relocation. Often, employers will disfavor candidates because they live too far away – it might not be worth assisting with your relocation fees if you’re coming in from halfway across the country. If you haven’t moved yet, keep this information in mind when being interviewed, it may be a useful bargaining chip.
9) Select: If you’ve planned appropriately and aren’t in financial trouble, be selective about your job options. It might be unnerving to turn something down, but it’s important to your well-being that you choose a job that pays what you need and doesn’t make you completely miserable.
10) Strategize: The entire process of searching for a civilian job can be overwhelming, but if you treat it like another mission, you’ll be fine. Determine your objective, break down the process into multiple steps, and execute the plan. If you’re still drawing blanks and are absolutely confounded, consult job-hunting experts for assistance.