Transitioning from a military role to a civilian job is hard work, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way. The resources below will help you find, apply to, interview for and get the job that’s right for you.
If you have questions that aren’t answered by this guide, get in touch with our helpful support team. You can find them on Twitter, Facebook, and our help center.
Changing your career path
Making a career change requires you to look at the path ahead in a new way. For example, your MOS/military job code may not necessarily define your civilian career path. You’ll need to translate the skills you’ve obtained in the military into language your future employers will understand, including the intangible skills you might have such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking and others.
In the civilian workforce, job searching is a regular activity for most people. In a recent survey, 91% of employed adults said they look for jobs at least a few times a year.1 Like any activity, you’ll get better with practice. The steps that follow are meant to help you hone your search skills and land the job you want.
An important first step is considering what you really want to do at work. You’ll need to get specific about the job you’re looking for next: both to decide where to focus your search and so you can confidently answer interview questions about why you’re attracted to a particular role.
- Take stock of what you’ve accomplished in your career so far, your personal aspirations and where you want to be next.
- Think about the skills you feel most confident in and those attributes that make you unique.
- Think about your experiences and the underlying abilities you’ve demonstrated. Determine how those experiences and abilities will apply to a corporate job.
- Before you begin your job search, review your social media profiles and check your privacy settings. Potential employers may look at these pages.
Researching jobs and employers
As you begin your job search, you’ll want to learn about the kinds of jobs that are available or how much you can expect to be paid in different jobs or locations. Indeed provides several resources to help you do this.
Related: The Complete Guide to Researching a Company
This tool lets you see the salary trends for specific jobs. Enter the job title you’re interested in learning more about and you’ll see the job’s salary range and the average salary at popular companies. You can get the national trend or select individual states and cities.
At the same time, start to research companies that capture your interest. There are a lot of ways to research companies. Here are a few:
- Create a target list of employers you’d like to work with. Visit their careers page and their Indeed Company Page to get a wealth of information like reviews, videos, and current job openings. From a Company Page, you can choose to “follow” that employer to get email updates when they post new jobs.
- Visit a company’s social media pages to learn more about the day-to-day of their business.
- Use a search engine to search for recent news articles about the company so you’re up-to-date on the latest developments.
- Reach out to people you know who work at the companies on your target list. In these conversations, come prepared with specific questions. For example:
- How did you find your job at this company?
- How would you recommend I learn more about what jobs are available here and whether I’m a good fit?
- What is your favorite thing about working here? What are the downsides?
- What advancement opportunities exist at the company?
- What is your relationship with your supervisor or manager like?
- I’ve seen a job that interests me, what is your referral process like? Would you be open to referring me?
Some important etiquette to keep in mind: Never expect that a contact at a company can guarantee you a job. Put the responsibility on yourself to learn as much as you can from them and to turn the information they give you into actions. Thank them for their time. If you’re meeting them in person for coffee or lunch, you should offer to pay.
Searching for jobs
When you begin your job search, you have the option of using Indeed.com, the Indeed Job Search app or Indeed Military—a service that connects veterans with veteran-friendly employers.
Regardless of which option you choose for your job search, the best way to get started is by creating a free Indeed account. With this account, you can save jobs that you want to apply to later. These jobs will appear on your My Jobs page so you can return to them when you’re ready to apply. And once you’ve applied, you’ll be able to track your status from the same page. It’s the easiest way to keep track of all the opportunities that catch your eye.
Next, set up job alerts as you explore. Job alerts are regular email updates about new jobs that fit the criteria you’re interested in. It’s a convenient way to see new job postings as soon as employers post them.
You can create an multiple job alerts to be sent to you either daily or weekly. From your account, you can manage alerts by setting how often you’d like to receive email updates and pausing or deleting alerts.
Third, use advanced search techniques to narrow in on the right job. You can search for specific companies or job titles by adding “company:” or “title:” to your search. For example:
You can also use filters to refine your search. If you’re using the Indeed Job Search app, enter the job you’re looking for and then select “Find Jobs.” Your job search results will display on the following page. To add filters, select the “Filter” button. From there, you can set your search distance, job type (full-time, part-time, contract etc.), and experience level. Select “Update” to save your filters. You can update these settings at any time during your search. If you’re searching on a desktop, filters will appear on the left side of your search results page.
Be on the lookout for suspicious jobs
At Indeed, we work to proactively identify and remove predatory content from search results. For your safety, review these guidelines for a safe job search. Above all, protect your personal information, never accept money for work you have not done, and do not perform any financial transactions on behalf of a potential employer.
If you find a job posting that you believe is fraudulent, contact Indeed immediately to report the listing.
Writing your resume
The next step in your job search is to develop a resume that will translate your most relevant experience and qualifications in an easy-to-digest format.
Read more: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing
Indeed Resume is a flexible resume template that lets you fill in your relevant experiences and skills. There are 100 million resumes on Indeed and employers search this database for candidates with skills that match their job descriptions.
With Indeed Resume, you can set your resume to “Public,” which enables employers to get in touch with you about new jobs (although your name and other personal information will not be visible). Or, you can set your resume to “Private,” if you’d prefer to not be contacted by employers.
You can also choose to upload an existing resume or create one directly on Indeed. If you upload a resume, you’ll want to review the formatting to make sure your information has been entered correctly. Indeed Resume formats your resume so that is can be shared with employers on mobile, tablets, and desktop.
You can download this document once you save it on Indeed. And, you can use your resume to apply to many jobs on mobile and desktop.
You won’t be prompted to apply to every job with your Indeed Resume. But because you can download it as a file, you can print it or attach it to job applications that allow attachments.
- Create your resume using Indeed Resume.
- Enter past work experience, skills, relevant education and training.
- Set your resume to “Public” if you want to be contacted by employers searching for people like you. Your personal information will not be shown.
- Download this document as a file and print it if you need a hard copy.
Writing a cover letter
Including a cover letter is a traditional part of a job application that is not always necessary these days. As you go through your search, evaluate each job individually to determine if you need a cover letter.
In most cases, the purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to a potential employer. You can use a cover letter to call out significant achievements, mention relevant skills and abilities, or explain why you’re attracted to this job and organization.
Sometimes employers may ask you to answer a specific question in a cover letter. If you come across a job description or application like this, make sure you follow the writing prompt closely. Employers include a prompt like this to assess your attention to detail and written communication skills.
Read more: How to Write a Cover Letter
Applying for jobs
Before you apply to any job, give your resume a final review. At this stage, you want to make sure it’s the best representation of you and doesn’t contain any typos or misspellings. You may want to ask a friend or family member to review it for you.
Apply on any device
Today, mobile job applications are the norm. In fact, 65% of all job search on Indeed takes place on smartphones. With Indeed, you can search for and apply to jobs on any device.
Job applications may look different for each potential employer. Follow the application instructions within the job description you’ve clicked on. For some jobs, you’ll be able to attach your Indeed Resume and for others, you’ll be prompted to upload your resume as an attachment.
Some employers do not have mobile-friendly applications but if you’re logged in to your Indeed account, you can save a job from your phone and apply to it on a desktop computer later. You can see your saved jobs by going to your My Jobs page within your account.
Submitting your application
Once you’ve filled in an application, submit it. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to edit your job application once it has been submitted, so be sure that you’ve completed it to your satisfaction before taking that final step.
An important part of a successful job search is casting a wide net. Job search is hard work, and consistently applying is a part of that effort. It’s helpful to set goals for yourself—how many jobs do you want to apply to each day or week? As you meet your application goals, think of a way to reward yourself.
Your Indeed account is a hub for your entire job search. You can refer back to the jobs you’ve saved and keep tabs on the status of each job you’ve applied to. You can also see recommended next steps for your applications.
Waiting for a response
An inevitable part of any job search is waiting for employers to get back to you. Some employers may send you an email confirming that they received your application and will be in touch if they want to move forward. Others may not get back to you at all.
Read more: What to Do If You Aren’t Hearing Back From Employers
How long should you wait to hear back before moving on? There is no standard answer to this question. The amount of time it takes to review a job application varies for each job and company.
While you’re waiting to hear back, it’s important to continue your job search. Keep researching new opportunities and applying to jobs. Set up job alerts and follow your dream employer’s Company Page to get updates when new jobs are posted. And don’t forget the power of face-to-face interactions: Take a friend, mentor, or family member to coffee and ask them about their career path—you might be surprised by what you learn and how it inspires you. Stay active in your community to make new connections.
We know this wait is frustrating and that not hearing anything back is difficult. We’re here to talk. Reach out to us on Twitter or Facebook to share your job search story.
The interview and hiring process is handled differently at different companies. Sometimes you may not have direct contact with anyone before your interview. That’s ok, there are ways to prepare on your own. Visit the Q&A section of this organization’s Company Page to learn about other job seekers’ interview experiences. You can also research common interview questions in your industry and practice your answers.
If you are communicating with a recruiter before your interview, you can ask them questions that will help you prepare. Here are some examples of questions to ask:
- What is the dress code like in your office?
You want to look your best at an interview and knowing what the environment is like at this company will give you some ideas of what to wear.
- In addition to my resume, is there anything else I should bring to the interview?
For some jobs, employers might want to see examples of your past work. The answer to this question will help you determine what to bring.
- How many people will I be interviewing with, and what are their names and titles?
Sometimes it will be just one person or you might talk to several people, one at a time. Other interviews might be conducted by a panel. Knowing their positions will help you prepare well because the questions a supervisor would have for you could differ from those a peer might have.
- Why is the position open?
This question will give you insight into the reason they need to fill this job and how soon. It will also tell you about the history of the position and the company’s culture. For example, if the job has been vacated by someone who was promoted, that could indicate they like to promote from within. If the job is newly created, that might mean you’ll be helping to define the job more clearly once hired.
Read more: How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview
In a recent survey of 1,000 hiring managers, we asked them to list the most important attributes of top performers at their company. The top five attributes they named were problem-solving, drive, self-direction, strategic thinking, and initiative.2 As you prepare for your interviews, think of examples from your service experience that embody these attributes and be ready with relevant anecdotes to share. Pairing your experience with what managers care about the most is a great way to make an impression.
Go into interview discussions with confidence by arming yourself with the latest salary data for your industry, role, and location. Visit indeed.com/salaries to start your search. When you receive a job offer, you can use this information to negotiate your salary or pay rate.
Pro tip: Remember to avoid using military jargon. For example, use civilian time instead of military time when confirming your interview time. Also, remember that you won’t need to address hiring managers and recruiters as Sir or Ma’am. Instead, address them by their first name.
- Prepare on your own by visiting the Q&A section of a Company Page.
- If you are speaking with a recruiter, ask them about what to expect.
- Pair examples from your past experience with the traits that matter most to hiring managers: problem-solving, drive, self-direction, strategic thinking, and initiative.
- Review salary data beforehand so you’re prepared to talk about compensation.
Starting a new job
You’ve made it through the search and landed the job, congratulations! We’d love to hear your story—share it on I Got a Job.
What to expect on your first day will vary from company to company. At this stage, you should have a line of communication open with your new employer and should ask any questions you have about the job.
For many people, keeping an eye on new job opportunities is a part of continuous career development, even once you’ve found a new job. In fact, 92% of top performers say they search for jobs at least a few times each year.3 Remember that you can continue to manage your email job alerts from your Indeed account, pausing them or changing how often you receive them.
Related: How to Succeed in Your New Job: The First Week, Month and 90 Days
1 Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed
2 Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed
3 Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed
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