Military-to-Civilian Job Search Tips
So, you’ve completed your military service and now find yourself entering the civilian job market. Well, you’re certainly not alone. In a typical year, more than 200,000 people transition from military to civilian life, and most of them are looking to enter the workforce. What can you do to get yourself hired?
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Here are three tips that can help you impress prospective civilian employers:
1. Upgrade your education. The majority of those leaving military service today are eligible for benefits under the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill. This presents you with an opportunity to attend an approved education or job training program and have the U.S. government help pay for it. The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill generally provides enough to cover most associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs. If the course of study you choose is more expensive, the Yellow Ribbon Program may help defray some of the additional costs.
While skills and interests differ, many veterans choose to pursue degrees in allied health, business, criminal justice or information technology. If you’re looking to enter the workforce quickly, a medical assistant certificate or Associate’s degree in Law Enforcement could be a good choice. If you have the time and inclination to pursue a more comprehensive education, a Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering or Master’s of Business Administration may be what you’re looking for.
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2. Acquire other credentials. Many military jobs give you training and practical experience that is equivalent to what civilians attain by earning credentials, like certificates or licenses. Generally, certification is handled by private organizations while licensure is the preview of local, state or federal government.
Depending on what you did in the military, your training may fulfill some or all credentialing requirements for a given profession. Contacting the agency in charge of certification or licensure for your field is the best way to learn the credentialing value of your military experience. For example, if you worked as a medical technician in the Air Force, American Medical Technologists would be a good place to find out what type of certification you may qualify for – and which you will need further training to attain – in the civilian world.
Where government-issued licenses are concerned, the Licensed Occupations tool provided by the U.S. Department of Labor can help you find the appropriate agency to contact.
3. Put your military experience on your resume. Far too many veterans downplay their military experience when looking for a job. You’re not helping yourself by doing this. The fact is, many employers are looking for people who understand discipline, commitment and the value of hard work – all of which are part of military life.
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On your resume, list your rank and military occupation just as you would any other. Some military jobs have clear civilian counterparts; if you were an Army MP, your experience and training will be ideal when applying for any type of criminal justice position. Other military jobs relate to civilian jobs in a less obvious, but still very real way. For example, being a tank driver has no direct civilian counterpart. However, skill at driving and operating heavy machinery is definitely applicable to many occupations.
There are some military jobs that simply do not translate well into civilian life. These are still worth putting on your resume, because less tangible talents and accomplishments can be important (an artillery officer’s skill at firing a cannon may not be applicable in the business world, but his leadership ability certainly is). At minimum, putting your rank and military occupation on your resume shows that you were committed to working hard at a job and take pride in having served your country.
To conclude, let’s go over the major points once more: Upgrade your education using the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and other education benefits, acquire other credentials you need to enter your chosen field (especially those your training can help you easily attain) and put your military experience on your resume. Thank you for your service to the nation, and good luck in the civilian job market!
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