Transitioning from Military to Civilian Employment
Transitioning from one career path to another can be quite a challenge. There are adjustments to be made, skills that need to be learned and unlearned and sometimes, it also means redesigning the lifestyle that you’re used to. It is true for big changes such as transitioning from military to civilian employment.
Being in the service is a world of difference from working for private or government sectors – from expectations of behavior to unspoken rules. The civilian industry may seem unfamiliar to you at first, but it isn’t impossible to transform your military experience into useful skills for various civilian job opportunities.
Here are tips on how you can do just that:
- Identify Your Skills – it’s normal to feel unsure about changing your career path. But contrary to what you may be feeling, many civilian employers are looking for candidates like you. Your military tenure has given you skills and knowledge that many private and government sectors find valuable. The first thing that you can do is review your performance evaluations, efficiency reports, and other documents that state the tasks you’ve completed while you were still in the service. Think of all the skills that you’ve developed such as operating equipment, planning projects, executing tasks, creative problem solving, and more.
- Match Your Skills with the Qualities Required for the Civilian Job – the best thing to do when applying for a civilian post is to conduct a thorough research about the job and the company. Researching will familiarize you with the industry that you’re about to build your career path in. It will help you effectively translate your military experience into valuable skills that fit the civilian job that interests you. You can use free online tools to help you search for job opportunities that suit your military training or better yet, get the assistance of a certified career coach. A career coach can help you assess job opportunities and match each one with your personal values, interests and skill set. He or she can help you find employment where your military experience can be utilized and maximized.
- Articulate Your Experiences – once you have a list of career opportunities that you want to apply for, you can proceed with executing a plan to effectively market yourself to your prospective civilian employers. To land an interview, your resume and cover letter need to reflect your relevant skills and experiences in civilian terms. During the interview, you need to present yourself professionally and effectively highlight your skills and accomplishments in a way that is valuable to the civilian industry. Military jargons mean nothing to private and government sectors, you have to break them down in laymen’s term to create value. For example, if you were trained to create a duty roster in the military, state in detail the skills required to complete the task. You can say that it needed coordination, organization, people management, etc. Describe the task in a way that it becomes relevant to the job that you’re applying for. Try to sell yourself. Do not over-simplify your skills, take full credit for your accomplishments. Again, ask for professional help when it’s needed.