Leaving the life of service behind can be a time of uneasiness. Questions such as, “How will I support my family?” or, “What am I going to do for a career now?” may arise during this transition.
With these questions, one of the biggest challenges ahead is finding the right job for you and your family. This is going to be a time of transition, so to help you make the adjustment to civilian life a little easier, we’ve put together a list of four tips to help better prepare you for the job hunt ahead:
1. Create a Plan Ahead of Time
Whether you’re months or years out from your EAS, it’s never too early to think about your life after the service. The job search can be a long process, especially for those who are planning to pursue a career path that requires secondary education you don’t have yet. That’s why it’s a good idea to lay out a foundation of where you want to go and what you need to do so you’ll be prepared when the time comes to make the move.
If you’re thinking about pursuing college at some point, it’s a good idea to look into getting college credit for your military experience and how you can use your G.I. Bill benefits to assist you. If you’re thinking about going straight into the workforce, look at job openings in a field you’re interested in to determine what skills and/or experience you can work on developing before actually having to apply for the job.
2. Utilize Military Programs and Workshops
No matter what branch of the military you’re in, there are workshops and other programs available to help aid the transition between the service and civilian life. It’s important to take advantage of these, especially in the final few months of service, to help prepare you for a successful post-military life. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
One of the best programs to take advantage of is the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) provided by the Department of Defense. Once you’ve completed your pre-separation counseling checklist (officially known as DD Form 2648), you should make an appointment with a transition counselor to help put you on the right path.
In addition, researching companies that are recognized as military-friendly employers will open your job hunt to many more options.
3. Avoid Using Military Jargon
Terms such as “WILCO” and “zero dark thirty” seem like common words to those with military backgrounds, but for civilians, it seems like a completely different language. Although it’s part of your life, you may need to explain yourself when using these terms. The best way to get used to civilian language is by having a conversation with someone. Find a person you trust who isn’t familiar with military terminology and have them point out things they don’t understand so you’re aware of what you’re saying.
Not only will this help you communicate effectively during the interview process and in civilian life in general; it will also help you when it comes to writing cover letters and creating your resume. Listing military skills in a way others can understand can be a challenge, and knowing how to communicate verbally will help you make some tweaks to perfect your resume.
4. Learn How to Utilize Social Media
For many veterans, trying to keep up with the latest social media developments can be hard. During deployment, access to social media and online technology is limited, with the most access coming in the form of Skype. But having knowledge of social media can help veterans in the interview process because it can be tied into communication and time management skills. In addition, it can radically help your job search.
Also be sure to learn the basics of Facebook and Twitter. More and more employers are using these platforms to promote their business and interact with the public. By having a basic knowledge of them, you won’t have to learn on the job if a project is brought to you that utilizes them.
Veterans who’ve made the transition: What other advice would you offer?