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.

Related jobs on Indeed
Part-time jobs
View more jobs on Indeed

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:

  • Decision making

  • Leadership

  • Organization

  • Professionalism

  • Relationship building

  • Self-discipline

  • Strategic planning

Related: 12 Military Skills To Put On a Resume for Any Job

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.

Are you looking for a job now?

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.

Elizabeth Garcia 

680-555-0122 | | Denver, CO 

Professional Summary 

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

Work experience 

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

Download Resume Template

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.

Is this article helpful?
Indeed Career Services
Indeed Resume
Get noticed by employers
Upload a resume file
Interview Practice
Practice interviewing with an expert career coach
Book a session
Resume Services
Get your resume reviewed or rewritten
Upgrade your resume
Salary Calculator
See your personalized pay range
Get your estimate
Resume Samples
Kick start your search with templates
Browse resume samples
Company Reviews
Access millions of company reviews
Find companies

Explore more articles

  • Pros and Cons of Being a Registered Dietitian: A Detailed List
  • 5 Steps for How To Become a Real Estate Agent in Colorado
  • 12 Pros and Cons of Being a Security Officer
  • 12 of the Most Fun Jobs in the World
  • 11 Careers in Chemistry (And the Qualifications You'll Need)
  • 13 Reasons To Become a Pediatrician (With Career Definition)
  • CEO vs. CFO vs. COO: What's the Difference Between Them?
  • How To Become a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator (LNHA)
  • What Can You Do With a Banking and Finance Degree?
  • How To Become a Full-Stack Java Developer in 5 Steps
  • Master of Engineering vs. Master of Science: Key Differences
  • Jobs in Morgues: 6 Career Opportunities Working in a Morgue