Some junior enlisted jobs are hot. If you are an infantryman on a 12-mile ruck in the middle of a Fort Irwin desert, or a Navy fireman on an amphibious ship in Main Machinery Room No. 1, or a Marine digging a defensive position on Range 400 at Twentynine Palms, you don't need me to tell you are hot. You are hot every day.
When you get to the civilian job market, some Marines, soldiers, airmen, Coasties and sailors like you find out they are hotter than they thought on the job market. And some are surprised to find out they are not so hot. A few Marine or Army military occupational specialties (MOS), Air Force specialty codes (AFSC), and Navy and Coast Guard rates fare better than others when it comes to getting a good civilian job. Does your military job qualify as hot?
Recruiters Are Looking for High-Demand/Low-Supply Career Skills.
As an E-5 or below getting out of the military, recruiters want you to know that everyone leaves the service with military job skills, yet some skills are more marketable than others. (Identify your job skills with our Military Skills Translator.)
The more employers who are looking for your hot job skill (and the fewer workers who have the job skill), the more jobs are available. Also, the more likely it is that the employer will pay a recruiter to find you.
The fewer hot skills you have, the more likely it is that you are going to need to use your GI Bill to retool and find a great job.
Do You Have a Hot Job?
According to research from the U.S. Census Bureau, former Army junior enlisted who were drone operators, military intelligence, cyberspace or telecommunications specialists generally had the highest earnings in the civilian labor market after leaving service. (The bureau does not have specific data on other services but notes that the findings can probably be extended beyond the Army.)
In the Navy, information technology (IT) and cyber ratings are highly sought after. Jobs in nuclear power, such as nuclear electronics technician, nuclear electrician's mate and nuclear machinist's mate, hold steady interest from employers. Electronics technicians in the Navy and Coast Guard fare pretty well, too.
In the Air Force, the technical skills of air traffic controllers, remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) sensor operators, lab techs and linguists are highly marketable skills attractive to the private sector.
If You Have a Hot Job, What Do You Need to Do?
If you are one of the lucky few with these hot job skills, start by putting up a complete LinkedIn page, including a professional picture. Use our Reverse Resume Master Class to help you identify and list your skills in civilian terms. Also, add the green "#opentowork" halo around your profile.
If you get interest from recruiters, that confirms you have hot skills. If you don't get contacted, look into the SkillBridge program in your dream location to connect with more employers.
What if You Are Not Hot?
What if you do not have those hot skills? Are you completely unemployable? Destined for the un-hotness of your mother's couch?
You are employable. I'll admit that veteran unemployment is something to think about for junior enlisted, especially those whose military job skill does not translate easily to the civilian world, like infantrymen and firemen. Unemployment does affect you more. Unemployment rates nearly have doubled for veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic. So what do you do?
Get Your Own Strategy.
What you need is a strategy to move forward on your transition one step at a time without feeling lost or overwhelmed or mad about your rate/MOS/AFSC.
The first step is figuring out what kind of job will be hot for you in the civilian world by downloading our exclusive Young Enlisted Transition Master Class.
This class is not designed for your bosses. It isn't designed to please our bosses, either. It is only for you and what you need. You are young and hot, with a whole world of hot opportunities if you go looking for them. Spend just an hour in our master class, and you will learn a simple technique to figure out exactly where you would thrive in the civilian world, as well as our exclusive research about which career areas are hot for your age group. Then we connect you with just the right guide to set you on your way.
Because at Military.com, we believe the military was just the first step in your brilliant career. You don't need someone to hold your hand. You just need someone to give you a nudge in the right direction toward your next high-impact job. Sign up for the Young Enlisted Master Class today.
Jacey Eckhart is Military.com's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Talent Pool and on her website SeniorMilitaryTransition.com. Reach her at Jacey.Eckhart@Monster.com.
Learn More About the Veteran Employment Project
To get more tips on how to make a successful military transition, sign up for one of our FREE Military Transition Master Classes today. You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.