TAO Self-help

Title:Leaving the Military? It’s Never Too Soon to Plan Your Next Career!

Author:Barbara Adams, CPRW, CEIP, CMRC, CFRW

Date:March 2011

Source:www.militaryresumewriters.com and www.careerproplus.com

Whether you've been in the military for 4 years or 20, the approaching final day of your service will no doubt cause a variety of mixed emotions: excitement, relief, fear, hope, or maybe even dread. Even those who look forward to retirement face the great unknown of what lies beyond with a sense of caution and trepidation, especially in an economy where the unemployment rate is hovering around 10%. The good news is, as a military veteran, you have great skills that are in high demand in the private sector, and there may even be positions with the federal government performing the same duties for much higher pay. The key to success, as in all endeavors, is planning.

It's really never too early to begin to plan. You'll probably want to take a week or two off when you finally take that first step wearing civilian clothes. If you plan ahead, you may be able to do that, but with an average job search time of six months and thousands of Americans receiving unemployment benefits for more than a year, you really have to get ahead of the curve and hit the ground running. You should begin this process at around six months prior to your expected separation date.

Here's what you need to do for your own peace of mind and employment success:


    Build a folder with all your education and training transcripts, awards, certificates, letters of commendation, annual performance evaluations (fit reps, NCOERs. OERs, etc.) and of course your DD-214 and discharge papers. Read through everything to remind yourself of all the things you've done, so you know what you have to offer in the way of knowledge, experience and accomplishments.


    Compile a list with the name and date received for each of your training courses, awards, licenses, certifications and other information. You should have copies of any certificates to present in an interview but you'll need a simple list of them to build into a resume, including the title and date received for each. Related documents should be grouped in their own folder or separated by tabs in a binder. The goal is for you to be able to find any document quickly in case you need more information, like number of training hours for a given class or certificate.


    Decide on area(s) where you would like to live and start searching those areas for jobs while you are still in the military. Even if you have six months to go, you can see what salaries are paid in various locations and what types of positions are in demand. You don't want to buy a new house or move into an area only to find the jobs you want to apply for are in a different state. You don't want to return home and waste months looking for a non-existent job when you had a chance to move someplace else. Check out online corporate websites for jobs, use TAOnline.com, and government application websites like USAJOBS.gov.


    Do you want a government job, a corporate position, or will either work for you? What field and what level of responsibility? Do you want to pursue a new career path that requires more training? If you want a federal government job, positions often take months to fill and private sector jobs may not have many openings throughout the year, so you might want to start applying three to four months prior to separation with a cover letter explaining your future date of separation. You'll want to develop you resume (or different resume versions) for submission by email or in person. Note that government resumes tend to be five pages or longer, while corporate resumes only want one or two pages. Unless you are seeking a military related job, change all military terms to civilian ("middle management" instead of "NCO", "personnel" instead of "soldier" or "sailor", "Director" instead of "Commander", etc.).


    Don't rely on one resume to one job, no matter how much of a dream job it may be. Not only are the odds against you (there may be hundreds of other applicants), but it puts you in a position of strength if you get a job offer. It's to your benefit if you can honestly say, "I have two other companies interested in me, but I'm more interested in this position with your company." You can negotiate a higher salary and better benefits this way, and employers respect the fact that you are in demand.

Your branch of service will undoubtedly provide you with out-briefing. Unfortunately, these come very close to the end of your time in service. You might even want to seek the advise of professional career services. If you plan ahead and apply in advance, you may be able to have a job waiting for you when you separate. That's certainly not a bad situation to be in!

Remember, in a crowded field, your military experience stands you tall and places you above the crowd. Employers recognize that nothing can match the experience for real-world experience in leadership, competence, teamwork, reliability, technical ability, and strength under pressure, even in critical situations. You have a proven track record of quickly learning new skills and adapting to changing environments. As simple as this may sound, you also have the ability to show up on time and work with a diverse group of people. So plan and implement your new mission with confidence and get started looking for that next career!

Barbara Adams, President and CEO of CareerPro Global (CPG), the parent company of http://www.careerproplus.com/ and www.militaryresumewriters.com, has been a member of the careers community for the past 20 years. Ms. Adams holds four prestigious industry certifications. CareerPro Global is the only ISO 9001-2008 Certified Career Service in the industry, as well as one of the fastest-growing Military, Federal, and Civilian Resume-Writing and Careers-Coaching companies. The team of Certified Professional Federal and Military Resume Writers at CPG assist thousands of clients in applying for and gaining employment each year. We can help you land your military to civilian job.

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