Leaving the military and joining the civilian workforce is very stressful; I know – been there, done that. The purpose of this article is to provide my fellow veterans with tips to give them confidence about the transitioning process. One of the essential things transitioning veterans need to realize, is that they inherently have many skills, such as training, discipline, and experiences, that few “non-veterans” can match.
A big challenge for transitioning veterans is learning and understanding the “business world.” Many veterans have a difficult time capturing and describing their skills and capabilities in terms that translate into business terms that civilian companies can understand. The main reason companies are in business is to make a profit. How you and your job affect the “bottom line” is a top priority. Because the military has no profit motivation, veterans may be lacking when it comes to understanding how their skills, talents, and capabilities can contribute to a company’s success. Learning more about how companies earn their profits will give the majority of transitioning veterans the ability to compete with anyone in their chosen career fields.
Here are some recommendations for transitioning veterans that may be helpful:
1. Attend as many military transitions programs as possible while on active duty. The transition programs are extremely valuable and will give you an advantage over your fellow transitioning veterans that skip the transition programs.
2. Sell yourself! Build a resume that captures a company’s attention. Your resume should describe how your achievements contributed to the bottom line – cost, schedule, and performance. Use your evaluation reports to help in writing about your successes. Learn and understand your value!
3. Attend as many job fairs as possible. It gives you more confidence and improves your abilities to present and sell yourself while helping you perfect your “elevator speech.”
4. Dress to impress! Prepare and act as though you’re going to an open ranks inspection!
5. Practice your interviewing skills. There’s loads of information on the internet that provide recommendations on how to prepare for interviews (company research, salary compensation, benefits, etc.). Be prepared to ask questions about the company during the interview; future employers are often impressed by preparation!
6. Start networking! Keep in touch with veterans you know that already transitioned into the civilian workforce. They’ll have plenty of great advice about what worked and what didn’t work in their job search.
7. Lastly, “Lighten up Francis!” You probably have more to offer companies than you realize. You’re a commodity that the civilian world is looking for and you’re going to do just fine! Make your fellow veterans proud and pass it on!