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Using Your Military Service to Plan Your Next Career Move

NASA photo by David C. Bowman
NASA photo by David C. Bowman

For many service members, a career in the military is a job for life. For others, it’s a stepping stone on the journey to their next career.

Military service shows prospective employers that you are disciplined, mature, resourceful and adaptable — attractive skills for hiring managers. When you’ve returned to civilian life you may also discover that your service allows you to move quickly up an organization’s ladder, in fact, many of the top fortune 500 leaders are former military members.

If you’re planning a civilian career, here are some steps you can take while you’re still in the military to prepare for success.

Plan Ahead

Several months before you plan on transitioning out of military life, you will need to carefully research the job market you wish to enter. It isn’t enough to presume that your service experience and a possible college degree are enough to guarantee a job. Read the latest industry information, stay abreast on changes and issues affecting your field, and identify skill sets you will need to improve, do more coursework or achieve additional certification.

Consider Upgrading your Education

Now might be the perfect time to invest in additional qualifications such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Some colleges give military members with at least five years of service a pass on completing the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), allowing them to apply for an MBA program with a GMAT waiver. MBA graduates consistently rate their degree as a good value. A report by the Journal of Education in Business found that graduates’ salaries grew 80 percent five years after they earned an MBA.

Take Advice

Where do you hope to be five years from now? Try to meet with people who are at that point in their careers within the industry you hope to join. Ask what connections you should make or networks you can join. Get the inside scoop on what your new career could look like.

Start Making Connections

Even if you have only been in the military for a relatively short time, it’s likely that job hunting has changed. Begin to make online connections through social media platforms to keep up to date on industry news, journals and job openings. Nurture real-world connections, too, and be sure to let everyone know your plans to move back into civilian life.

Create an Impressive Resume

Update your resume to reflect your military service, the skills you have developed, additional training you have completed, and to change the format to better suit civilian job descriptions. You may also consider having a professional resume writer craft the document or take advice from human resources or career guidance specialists.

Your military experience has laid the groundwork for the next steps on your way to a fulfilling and successful second career.

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Related Topics

Military Transition