Almost everyone that leaves military service eventually becomes another member of the civilian job hunting force. Many prior soldiers, airmen, marines and seaman find the search a bit more challenging when it comes to translating their military skills into marketable civilian skill qualifications. Let me give you a little personal advice that worked for me in finding a job after I retired from the Army.
First, I have to give credit where credit is due. Another officer of roughly my background and years retired sometime before I submitted for retirement; he provided me a roadmap for job hunting that I followed to its fortunate success. The basic elements were in the ability to do the following: make an inventory of your military skills; translate those military skills into civilian language; reflect that translation into a concise resume (not too long or short), each job applied for should have its own resume tailored to the position’s requirements; send a letter of introduction with a brief paragraph as to why you are well suited for the job; then understand and rehearse the interview process.
The singular most helpful guidance was to take advantage of consulting company services or consider applying for as many civilian government positions as possible. The advantage of civilian government jobs is in the potential of earning a government pension, while consulting companies generally have higher paying jobs. Although consulting companies generally are higher paying options they are also temporary in nature, usually with a limited duration based on the customer’s needs and available funding. My personal best success in the job hunting world was accomplished through the consulting companies. This was true for many other of my service comrades. In fact, some of my old comrades started their own management consulting businesses after retirement. Consulting companies are often resources for client businesses to fill jobs that have a high level of responsibility, such as project manager, high skilled technology jobs, or other specialty and managerial positions. They also provide training for businesses in leadership, teambuilding, and many other skills that often mirror those skills acquired during military service. Another placement service option is through one of the many staffing service companies. These are all-purpose temporary employment agencies; also known as Temp-Agencies. These Temp-Agencies are valid options for finding work relatively quickly for skilled, semi-skilled or non-skill skilled labor.
Things to do:
Contact past military members that have already successfully transitioned into the civilian job market.
Take inventory of your skills even if they seem to be military unique; try and translate them into something a civilian employer who does not have a military background can understand, for example: Squad Leader or Platoon Sergeant equals Section Leader or Supervisor. Serving in a military leadership role is experience as a supervisor; senior non-commissioned officers, warrant officers and commissioned officers are managers regardless of their duty title. Techno-oriented military skills such as those in the information technology or communication fields will be pretty much straight forward and need very little translation between military and civilian terms. Also, most former military members have at least some experience with Microsoft Office Tools, such as: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.
Develop your resume. Create one tailored resume designed for each type of job application; remember as stated before, keep your references to your military skills in terminology that a civilian employer can understand. Don’t write a book: employers are not interested in reading the novel of your life.
Practice interviewing with someone that has already walked the ground you now tread. Find a former military member that currently is in a civilian job and practice a job interview. It is best if you can find someone with similar military skills as yourself or that has transitioned into a job within your desired civilian career field.
Never stop learning. Employers like to see that you have taken the initiative to continue your educational growth; this is true whether you are looking at a college degree, certification, or just any general skills training, job related or not. A common example is if you are pursuing a position as a Project Manager, then you should take steps towards becoming “Project Management Professional” (PMP) Certified.
Additionally, there are transitioning service offices for service members leaving the military. These service offices include assistance with the “how-to” for civilian job searching. For military retirees, check in with the Retirement Services Office (RSO). They will help you with a multitude of retiree related issues including civilian job transitioning.
An on-line networking site for job hunting forums for many different communities is Linkedin. This site can also assist you in finding other former service members in the job searching market.