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Four Ways to Make Your Transition Easier

Follow these tips for a smooth transition into the civilian workforce.

1. Take it slow.
Try to plan ahead so that you can take at least a short vacation when you separate. Besides having some fun on holiday, you will find that opportunities you never thought of will pop-up when you're not frantically looking for a job.

2. Read the books.
For specific transition guidance for military personnel, read From Ranks to Riches by John Begeley. Read the classic What Color is My Parachute. I would also personally recommend The Harvard Guide to Careers by Martha Leape and Susan Vacca and Cool Careers for Dummies by Marty Nemko, Paul Edwards, and Sarah Edwards.

3. Use the Headhunters.
You would be a fool not to use a headhunter. Who else is going to help you hone your interviewing skills and your resume? However, make sure you find a headhunter who is going to work for you. I would recommend working both with a small one (where you are more likely to get a lot of personal attention) and a large nationwide agency (so you get lots of exposure). They should be professionals -- demand nothing less

4. Search on your own.
There are countless ways to find a job:

  • Use every college alumni aid that's available.
  • Post your resume online.
  • When you figure out what kind of job you want, find companies that offer that job, call them, send in your resume, and be your own headhunter.
  • Be your own headhunter.
Marty Nemko, one of the premiere career counselors in California, told me: "Headhunters who specialize in transitioning military people to the civilian sector ARE a good tool. They know how to help candidates translate military experience and lingo into civilian. Also, such headhunters have established connections with key hirers in corporations known to like ex-military people -- of course, in the defense industry, but also other industries such as manufacturing.

That said, headhunters should represent only about 25% of one's job search effort. The rest should be divided among direct contact to on-target employers, using one's personal network, and responding to ads on the Net and in the papers."

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