Any transition is hard, whether it be joyous or sad, but they all have one thing in common: They aren’t easy.
As a service-member considering your post-military journey, you know this truth well. That’s why SAVI has your back when it comes to your transition into civilian life. As you prepare for this major change, here are five tasks you should complete during the final six months of your service.
• Attend a Transition Assistance Program (TAP) workshop: These three- to five-day workshops — co-created by the U.S. departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Labor — were designed to help separating service-members more easily find civilian jobs. Offered at select military installations, TAP workshops are facilitated by highly qualified professionals who provide services such as preseparation counseling, employability evaluations, information on Veteran benefits, and support for relocation, career decision-making, job searches, resume and cover letter writing, and interviews. Learn more about TAP here.
• Get your physical: Getting your physical exam is an essential part of every transition. During this exam, be sure to report any symptoms and/or medical issues that you have experienced. Being candid will help you ease into the process of filing for benefits. Be sure to ask your physician any and all questions you have about the process. As an extra step, you may want to request a full copy of your medical record to keep with your other important documents.
• Think about your transferable skills: As we mentioned in a previous blog post, military personnel have many transferable skills that will help you transition to a new career path. Self-reflection is an important step for developing an effective, skill-packed resume that will catch any hiring manager’s attention. Use your TAP resources or find a professional mentor to guide you through this discovery process. You bring more to the civilian table than you might think, so be sure not to skip this step!
• Find military-friendly employers: The number of companies looking to prove their Veteran-friendly culture is growing. Starbucks, for example, has vowed to hire 25,000 Veterans and military spouses by 2025. And earlier this year — after unveiling the biggest military discount in wireless today with the T-Mobile ONE Military plan – T-Mobile announced its intent to hire 10,000 Veterans and spouses over the next five years. This means that as a transitional military Veteran, you’re entering into a workforce that wants you to work for them.
• Play up your strengths as an ex-military job candidate: Similar to what we’ve talked about with knowing your transferable skills, it’s important to home in on your worth as a former military leader. Your time in service gave you skills, yes, but it also gave you experiences. Learn how to market these in interviews to show how your time overseas made you a better communicator or how the ever-changing, sometimes volatile deployments made you more adaptable. Give concrete examples that really highlight your personal value and contributing strengths.
• Network, network, network: As the old saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who you know. Plenty of Vets have gone through this transition before you, so seek them out and find a network of seasoned mentors to guide you through this career process. Chances are good that they know someone who prioritizes Veteran hires. You can also send professional messages on LinkedIn, attend a Veteran job fair, or reach out to personal contacts in the civilian workforce. If there’s a certain industry that sparks your interest, look up and attend events (happy hours, panel presentations, conferences) that let you meet people in that field, and follow up with an email request for a coffee or phone call to learn more about their experience. Building your network will help you learn how others have succeeded — or not succeeded — on the road to civilian life, which will help make your transition smoother and potentially lead you down a surprising path.
Looking to enter the civilian workforce after military service? Or maybe you want to start your own business? Check out our free offerings for Veterans here.