The job hunt for a civilian job can be an exciting new chapter in your life.  However, it is not easy to do – the transition from “military career” to “civilian career” is hard, and the job search can seem overwhelming.

However, it does not have to be.  In many ways, searching for a new job is like managing and planning a major military operation.  The process needs to be broken down into manageable “chunks” that can be accomplished and then  “checked off” the list:

  1.  Translate military skills into comparable civilian skills.  Civilian managers do not understand military jargon.  They do not know that military-specific jobs – such as machine gunner or a tank driver or even a helicopter crew chief – have skills that can directly transfer to a civilian workplace.  So show them.  Translate your military experience into civilian terms.   There are many resources out there, including several military skills translators, but these should only be used as a starting point.  They are very general, and they only tend to identify skills specific to the military occupation entered.  Start with these translators, but then make a long list of your job duties, and then in small, digestible chunks begin to translate them into civilian terms.  Think about your grandparents or parents.  If they cannot understand what you did while in the military, neither will most hiring managers.
  2. Assess your skills strengths and weaknesses and your passions, and, then based on this assessment, determine you short-term, medium-term and long-term career goals.  In other words, where do you want to be next year, in 5 years, in 10 years?
  3. Using this information, determine your best –fit, immediate job.  Your first job may not be your “dream” job, but, many times, the first job lays the groundwork for the growth to the next job and the next job and the next job.
  4. Evaluate your goals and then place a tactical framework around them.  You will need to identify the scope of your job search – the area that you want to live in, your desired/required salary, etc.
  5. Identify attractive companies and staffing firms; many are military friendly.
  6. Begin the search for applicable jobs.  Remember, corporate jargon exists just the same way military jargon exists does.  Create a list of different terms and definitions, learn their meaning and then apply it to your military knowledge.
  7. Apply for jobs that match your skills.  Be sure to apply according to the method requested in the posting.
  8. Rehearse for your interview.  You need an “elevator pitch” – this is your value add that describes your value to the interviewer.
  9. Do not quit.  The search for a job is a long process.  Many days you will feel discouraged and will want to quit.  Do not quit until you have an offer.

Your military experience is enough to land a job.  However, do not think that you will not have to sell yourself – you will.  You just need to make your skills understandable and relevant for the hiring manager.  This is where steps 1 -4   come into play.   Yes, you bring to the table the leadership and management skills that the military has instilled in you, but you need to effectively align those skills with the immediate value that the employer is looking for.  In other words, you need to tell the hiring manager how you can help him now.  You have to remind him that your skills are scalable, and that you are the best person to solve his many – future- needs.

Snelling is here to help.  We understand the struggles that face returning veterans, and we would like to invite you to visit one of our local offices and our Veterans Resource Hub, where you will find information that will help you land the civilian job you need.  Our Resource Hub, including our Candidate Connection Blog, is updated regularly so bookmark these two pages and return often for tips and tricks that will give you the edge you need

NOTE:  a full-color, downloadable PDF is available