The Secrets To A Successful Civilian Career: Post-Military

Contributing Writer: Jeremy Silverstein, Vice President of Operations and Vehicle Dispatching at Veteran Car Donations.
Date: 09/24/2018

Transitioning to a successful post-military career is often more of a challenge than many veterans are expecting. In fact, 27 percent of veterans say that after four, six or sometimes 20 years of service they have difficulty transitioning to civilian life. That number increases to 66 percent for those who have suffered something traumatic during their service.
Here’s a helpful infographic (along with some tips) to put some of this information into perspective:

Unexpected delays, a lack of preparation and emotional difficulties often lead to seemingly insurmountable roadblocks to adequate civilian employment. Fortunately, it’s possible to avoid many of these pitfalls and move smoothly from the military to your post-military life with these 5 recommendations.

#1) Make a plan

Many service members fail to make even the most basic plan for their post-military life. Or more often, they fail to recognize how long their plan will take to execute. Begin today to create a roadmap of where you would like to be once your commitment is completed. It usually helps to start with the end in mind and work backward, making note of education, certifications, skills or achievements you need to gain along the way. Even if you are unsure about what your post-military career looks like, this exercise can help you choose schools, training and leadership paths while you are still in the service.

#2) It’s All About Transferable Skills

Civilian employers often need to be taught how military service translates to the outside world. There is no better way to do this than to examine your skills and accomplishments and how they relate to the private sector. These transferable skills may be technical abilities and qualifications related to your current job that translate directly.
Many promotion schools prepare you for the project management professional (PMP) certification that opens a world of employment possibilities. The Six Sigma principles of manufacturing are taught in aircraft hangers around the military and are easily recognized by civilian employers as desirable qualifications.

#3) Tailor Your Resume to the Job You Want

Sometimes the process of tailoring a resume to the job you want involves taking the military out of the equation. This often means “translating” how your experience relates to the civilian world for hiring managers. If you were a first sergeant for a company, those in the army will recognize the level of responsibility on your shoulders and the duties that you performed. However, a hiring manager may need to see that you coordinated training for 200 soldiers, accounted for $5 million in assets and effectively managed the performance of 170 subordinates. Still stumped how to do this? There’s good news …

#4) Attend a Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Workshop

Service members and spouses within 180 days of separation or retirement can attend a three-day TAP workshop, offered on military installations and reserve bases around the world. These seminars cover everything from certifications and constructive credit you may already be eligible for to how to write an effective resume for the job you want. Even if you are not within 180 days of separating from the military, the TAP website offers a host of information on military-friendly employers, job fairs in your area and transition guidance.

#5) Apply Early

Private sector jobs often interview and hire quickly, sometimes within a few days or weeks. If your sights are set on working for a government agency, though, be sure to factor lengthy application and interview processes into your job search. Applying up to a year ahead of your availability date gives you an opportunity to pass extensive checkpoints in the hiring process. Even if you sail through the application process, most government agencies are understanding of military commitments and can work with you to make your transition as seamless as possible.
There is no reason to make your transition out of the military more difficult than it needs to be. A little preparation, taking advantage of the services already in place, and applying early can help you make the successful jump to your post-military career.

Author bio: Jeremy Silverstein is Vice President of Operations and Vehicle Dispatching at Veteran Car Donations. During the years he’s been with the organization, he has become quite an expert in the industry and has handled tens of thousands of donated vehicles.