Career Advice for Veterans: How To Transition to Civilian Life
Updated September 15, 2023
Each year, many people with military experience begin the search for a different career. While former service members often possess many valuable skills developed during their time in the military, determining the next steps and choosing the right civilian career path can be a complex process. If you're making the transition from military service to civilian life, it may help to learn how to do so effectively.
In this article, we review several tips based on advice from real former military members and explore a sample resume to help ease your transition into the civilian workforce.
How to find military-friendly roles
Once you’ve determined which career path best suits your interests, you’ll want to begin searching for job opportunities. Here are a few steps to help you find open military-friendly roles:
1. Visit Indeed’s military resource center
This resource hub provides you with career guidance and tools specifically for former and current military members to get started on your job search.
2. Create a free Indeed account
Setting up your account will allow you to upload your resume, search for job openings and save jobs you like so you can apply to them at your convenience.
3. Set up job alerts
Alerts send email updates with new job postings that fit your search criteria. This way, you can apply to new positions as soon as they’re posted.
4. Use your military resources
There are numerous resources you can use to help you find a career after the military. There are also several companies that focus on connecting veterans with careers, such as Recruit Military or Hire Heroes. These companies help reduce the stress of finding jobs that fit your interests, skills, experience and education because they often do the job hunt for you.
Tips for finding a role after leaving the military
There are many things to consider during your transition from military service. Here are some tips to consider before, during and after your transition to the civilian workforce:
Begin considering the next steps as early as possible
Whether you’re nearing the end of your enlistment period, experiencing an unexpected separation or are thinking about retiring, it’s never too soon to consider your future career. While many service members identify potential careers and investigate job opportunities months before they leave the military, others explore different options.
For example, some service members choose to pursue a college degree or enroll in a trade school, while others take time off to travel or spend time with family before beginning the job search. It’s always helpful to know what you’d like to do before you begin looking for employment.
Determine which career path matches your interests
Many veterans often stick with a similar career they had in the military without really reflecting on their interests and professional goals. This might leave some veterans feeling unfulfilled or unsatisfied with their job. It’s important to reflect on your interests, skills and professional goals before starting the job hunt so you can find a career that you can enjoy. Some veterans even start their educational journey towards one career and then discover another might suit them better, so remaining flexible during your transition can help you find a career you value.
Highlight relevant skills from your military experience
After you’ve found a few jobs you’re interested in pursuing, the next step is to identify which military skills will best translate into civilian roles. These are the strengths you’ll want to highlight when you apply for jobs and interview with employers. Here are a few examples of military skills you could apply in your next career:
Leverage multiple resources
There is a wealth of resources available to military members transitioning to civilian life, such as Veterans Affairs, which offers numerous programs for helping military members prepare for the civilian workforce. Service members can also apply for the GI Bill, which covers public school tuition and provides a monthly housing allowance.
Former military members can easily find and apply for jobs online, research companies and even locate salary information. One of the best resources for easing back into civilian life and preparing for a new career is your own network. The contacts you made throughout your military service and in your post-military life can serve as personal references, connect you with employers and help you find the right opportunities.
Sample former military member resume
This resume highlights technology and team leadership skills to help a current service member pursue a career in IT after their enlistment period ends.
680-555-0122 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Denver, CO
Passionate and dedicated leader looking to transition from a successful military career to the public sector following the end of my enlistment period. Aiming to secure a position where I can apply my management and information technology skills.
Critical thinking I Decision making I Fluency in English and Spanish I Information security I Information technology I Interpersonal communications I Process streamlining I Team leadership
Airborne Mission Supervisor 2016-Present
U.S. Air Force, Lackland Air Force Base, TX
Leverage electronic systems to plan, organize and coordinate missions.
Apply knowledge of IT to ensure optimal performance of aircraft communications technology.
Perform flight inspections and train and direct aircrew.
Plan, organize and coordinate missions, perform flight inspections, monitor aircraft communications and manage electronic systems.
Train, direct and supervise aircrew
Airborne Cryptologic Language Analyst 2014-2016
Lackland U.S. Air Force Base, TX
Utilized foreign language fluency to translate and analyze messages for internal communications purposes.
Decoded and efficiently communicated time-sensitive information to relevant parties to ensure safe and successful missions.
Maintained accurate log of all incoming and outgoing communications.
Technology Support Specialist 2011-2013
ABC Company, San Antonio, TX
Answered customer questions and resolved concerns via phone and email.
Consistently maintained high customer satisfaction rankings.
Assisted in training and mentoring junior technology support representatives.
Associate of Science in intelligence studies and technology
Community College of the Air Force
To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.
Please note that the company mentioned in this article is not affiliated with Indeed.
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