When military veterans decide to transition into civilian life after five, ten, or twenty years, it can be a challenging or scary experience. Interviewing for a new position, managing your finances, and understanding healthcare benefits can be an experience you haven't considered for a long time. I've compiled tried and true tips that can be helpful for you as you transition to your new normal.
How do I prepare for civilian job-seeking?
When preparing for civilian job seeking, you should first determine what career path you want. You must decide if you're going to continue with your current military job field or if you're going to transition to a new career path. Once you decide on your future career path, you can start building a resume geared toward your future career choice. When crafting your resume, it's important to translate your military skills into civilian terms. To help you with this translation O*NET Online has a military skills translator that can guide you in understanding how your MOS, Rating, or AFSC translates into civilian terms. You can also reach out to an experienced veteran resume writer who can assist you along the way.
See my feature in What Does It Take to Transition to a New Career.
How To Transition From Military to Civilian Life | Benefits
What kind of job should I get after the military?
The job you get after the military will depend on the career field you want to work in and the compensation you are looking for. Most military veterans try to obtain a federal job, but it's a long and competitive process. If you have time to wait for a federal job, the compensation and benefits are far better than most civilian jobs.
On the other hand, if a federal job is not for you, you may want to seek a civilian job. These jobs can range from private to public companies and city to state employment. City and state jobs may not pay as well as private-sector jobs, but the benefits are affordable. So, if you are looking to be compensated well, it may be beneficial to find a privately-owned or public company that can meet your financial needs.
Transitioning Military Veterans & Financial Success
See how military Veterans Can Build a Debt-Free Life After the Military.
Is education necessary if I have the military experience to do my future job?
Some civilian jobs require a college degree for you to qualify as a candidate. While you're still in the military, take advantage of your educational benefits. Your VA education and training benefits can cover up to a certain dollar amount of your tuition and fees. You may also qualify for other grants that don't have to be repaid, like the Pell Grant. I got three degrees while in the military and paid nothing out of pocket. Even after my military transition, I used the remaining VA benefits available to finish my Master's degree. So, as you research your future career and see that the position requires an Associate's or Bachelor's degree, prepare now so that you can meet the position's requirements when you decide to transition.
See how I avoided student loan debt after obtaining nine college degrees (video).
What resources are available for veterans looking for post-military careers?
Onward to Opportunity is a career training program offered by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. It provides free career training to help transitioning military veterans, and their family members gain the necessary business certifications to give them an advantage when exiting the military and searching for a new career. Onward to Opportunity provides veterans with information on interviewing, resume-building, networking, and financial considerations of leaving the military. You get to earn a professional certification, but you are also exposed to employers actively hiring military veterans. As an alumnus and individual who gained my Senior Professional in Human Resources certification through the program, I can verify that it is a beneficial program that has helped me advance in my career.