6 Tips to Get a Great Job After the Military
The day has come when you’re off active duty. You’ve got your DD-214 in hand, can style your hair however you like, and never have to sleep in a muddy hole you dug while being yelled at ever again. Also, you’re unemployed. So you probably want to do something about that and get your very first job after the military. The path from the military to a civilian profession is as varied as can be, depending on what you did before, what you want to do now, and where you want to do it. But here are six fairly universal pointers to getting your hunt for solid veteran jobs off on the right track.
1. Do Your Research
This should be your very first step, and it will be a long and broad one. Figure out what jobs you might be interested in and what requirements it takes to get them. Look up tips for writing resumes and managing interviews. Contact some of the great services and organizations that exist to help you get where you need to go. Check out companies that hire veterans a lot and see if they have a position you might like. There will be a whole lot of stuff for you to read and comb through, but a desirable job after the military is really only attainable by knowing exactly what you need to get it.
2. The Resume
You may have written one of these before you served, or maybe even typed up a “practice” one during your separation process. But writing and polishing a solid resume is a key step in getting a civilian career. It has to make you look good in the most straightforward and simple language possible. You may want to consider paying a professional resume service to help you write and/or edit yours to really make it shine. At the very least, have somebody from outside the armed forces look it over to be absolutely sure it looks good, makes sense, and isn’t chock full of military jargon.
3. Talk to Other Veterans
You’re not alone and you’re far from the first to go through this process of a post-military job hunt. American veterans have been leaving the service looking for work since 1775. Seek advice from your fellows who’ve gone through their transition. Particularly those who secured jobs in the field(s) you’re looking to get into. Most, if not all, will be more than happy to help you get a leg up on your post-military career.
4. Learn to Speak Civilian
Unless you’re from a 100% military family and social circle, you probably know how ridiculous the way we talk sounds sometimes. Chock full of slang, acronyms, and action verbs in sentences that don’t need them, military-English can be utterly indecipherable to civilians. Learn how to explain what you did and where you did it in terms they can understand. After all, a person needs to know what you mean in your resume and say in your interview before they’ll even consider hiring you.
5. Stay Humble
Look, nobody’s going to deny that serving your country is a noble and admirable accomplishment. But it’s not a blank check entitling you to any job you want. Even someone with two-plus decades in uniform and a stack of ribbons that goes up and over the top of their shoulder might be neck-and-neck for the same gig as a twenty-something who started working in the field right out of college or high school. Your military experience will always be a check in your “asset” column when in consideration for a job, but it’s never a guarantee. Getting in a frustrated huff because you feel insulted at not getting auto-hired is a surefire way to get passed over.
6. Stay Positive
You may get the first job you apply for. It may be the perfect place for you. You could roll off base and spend the rest of your life perfectly fulfilled and strolling into your dream office every day. But don’t count on it. It might take a while to get a job. It may take a few jobs before you find one you actually like. You may have to quit one. You may get fired from another. Don’t let any of that get you down. The only way to really, truly fail is to give up. And if you don’t give up, keep at it, and take every bad turn as a chance to learn, you’ll get where you want to go and find the right post-military career.
As with pretty much everything in life (aside from death, taxes, and how you’ll oddly miss sleeping in a muddy hole you dug on rare occasions) there is no guarantee your transition from a military job to a civilian one will be easy. But, if you follow these steps, it will almost certainly start you off on the right track. And, with a little effort and time, you’ll be one of those happily employed veterans the next round of newly-separated men and women come to for advice.