Top career tips & resources for transitioning Veterans
As Veterans prepare to transition out of the military, many challenges exist; challenges that make it more important than ever to prepare, define, network and strategize an objective for life in the civilian workforce! Fortunately, there are more resources available to veterans today, than ever before! In 2012, President Obama addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars and announced an overhaul of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to the new Transition GPS (set Goals, make Plans, achieve Success). Together, with the Veterans Employment Initiative Task Force, Transition GPS was launched to—as MilitarySpot.com defines it—empower our “separating service members to successfully transition to the civilian workforce, start a business, or pursue higher education.”
To learn more about this process firsthand, we turned to Jonathan Boyd. After serving nearly 10 years in the Active Duty Component of the United States Marine Corps, Boyd decided to make the potentially-intimidating transition to the civilian sector. In chatting with him about his experience, there were obvious hurdles to overcome, however, these proven tips, techniques and resources aided greatly in his transition—and hopefully will for you as well!
• PREPARE: “Preparation is key! Do not wait until you’re 30 days out from your EAS (End of Active Service) to begin your job preparation and search,” suggests Boyd. He continues, “While you’re not always afforded the opportunity to envelop yourself 100% into your job search campaign, proper planning will ensure a manageable transition.”
• EQUIP: “Take advantage of the transitional programs provided by the DOD (Department of Defense),” suggests Boyd. “All branches of the Armed Forces allow their separating service members to attend a transitional workshop program.” While many opt to use these weeks to sit back and relax before separation, Boyd suggests that this time is best served ensuring that you are fully equipped to make the successful transition. After all, separation is very near!
• DEFINE: As service members take steps towards civilian life, the aforementioned workshops will provide guidance on how to “civilianize” your resume before, during and after the interview and hiring process. Boyd cautions, “Be aware that most hiring managers in corporate America will not understand military terminology; it is your responsibility to define and translate your skills for them.”
• UTILIZE: According to a recent analysis by Omaha.com, “only 36 percent of American Veterans use the GI Bill’s educational benefits.” Boyd stresses the importance of learning, understanding and utilizing your earned military service benefits, adding: “Veterans that have invested into the Montgomery GI Bill do not take advantage of the $30,000.00 available to them to pursue higher education within the allotted 8 years following their separation. Ensure you utilize your earned benefits to evolve your skill set.”
• NETWORK: As Veterans prepare to network their way to a civilian career, Boyd stresses the importance of connecting within your community. “Equip yourself with as many options as possible. Take advantage of the many free services that are available to recently separated service members including military placement firms, military job boards and military job fairs.” Additionally, offers Boyd, “Don’t be afraid to network on your own to find a military connection—the Veterans of Foreign Wars and military associations, such as Marine Corps Association & Foundation, Association of the United States Army and the Military Officers Association of America, are great places to start.”
• CONTACT: “Consider contacting a staffing company, such as Ultimate Staffing Services or Ledgent Accounting & Finance, to assist with your job search and transition,” recommends Boyd. Additionally, he offers, “Many staffing companies provide complimentary resume tips and preparation assistance to aid you in the interview process.”
• EXAMINE: As service members look to transition into the civilian sector, a new type of social examination can exist for job seekers. Boyd cautions, “Realize that the job search process may invite a new type of social scrutiny from your perspective employer. Ensure that you have both a professional email address and phone message while also reviewing your social media networking sites for any language or content that could be classified as ‘inappropriate.’”
• MOBILIZE: Boyd advises how to use your military move, strategically. “For those veterans with a family, don’t automatically use your military move to return to your home town. A huge advantage for the military-experienced job seeker is that many times, their military move can pay for the relocation to the city of their new job. While many companies might have to pay for a civilian to relocate, this could be the leg up that you need!”
• SELECT: “Don’t settle,” cautions Boyd. “Ensure the job you take is the job you WANT. Take your time and thoroughly investigate all of your options until you are sure you’ve found the ‘right’ fit for you,” he continues. “Accepting an offer for a job you’re not really excited about is a surefire way to ensure you’ll be repeating the whole job search process earlier than you wish.”
• STRATEGIZE: As you embark on this next stage of your career, Boyd recommends, “Never forget that Veterans make up a very small and elite group of Americans who in most cases have overcome much greater obstacles than a job search—this is just another ’mission’ so plan accordingly, use team work, ask for help when needed, and you will succeed in transcending your objective. Best of luck!”.