Are you ready to transition to civilian life? Are you absolutely sure? Transitioning into the civilian world can knock you for a loop if you aren't properly prepared. Civilian culture is very different from the military. Sometimes, it's completely opposite and may seem nonsensical. Think about it like transferring to a duty station overseas. If you knew you were going to be living and working in a foreign country, would you just go with it or do some research?
If you want to make sure you're ready to break into the civilian working world once you leave the military, brush up on these top 10 tips on transitioning into the civilian job market inspired by Bradley-Morris.
1. Start as early as possible.
Start your research yesterday. Where will you live? What industries will you target? How will you get around? How much do you have in savings? Who will help support you until you get on your feet? Many experienced professionals say that a successful transition requires about one year of planning. If you feel overwhelmed, think about the process like a marathon, not a race. Do a little bit of research and planning at a time, don't cram it all into one nerve-wracking session. Think about your priorities and goals, then explore what needs to happen to make them a reality.
2. Don't ride a single bet.
There are many resources to help you find work, and many job opportunities out there. If you rely on a single resource or a single job opening, you'll be setting yourself up for failure. Cast a wide net. If four out of five opportunities falls through, be thankful you didn't just go after one.
3. Keep your digital presence clean and professional.
What happened in the military when you didn't pass inspection? Well, when you're a civilian you'll have to think in those terms in relation to social media and job networking. The difference is, instead of receiving some type of punishment, you'll lose out on job opportunities.
4. Create a general transition plan.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can move back home and figure it out from there. The military provides resources to help you relocate after separating, but that only flies once. After you're out, you're out. Think about where you'll move, and how you'll make a living once you get there. Which cities provide the best job opportunities? Where will you find companies related to your industry? What's the cost of living?
5. Shed military lingo.
Your military experience makes you a valuable asset, but don't bury that in lingo that civilians don't understand. Talk about your military job, not your MOS. Break down jargon and acronyms into easily understood terms. Your goal is to convey your work history and experience to someone who's most likely never been in the military. They value leadership, motivation, creative thinking, and professionalism, and you don't need jargon to convey any of that.
6. Learn how to self-promote.
Unlike the military, civilian employment requires some measure of self promotion. You have to learn how to highlight what makes you an ideal employee. When did you take charge of a situation? When did you make improvements in your job? How well did you work with your team? Sometimes you'll have direct experience relating to your preferred field, but don't feel pigeon-holed by MOS. Simply being in the military gives you a leg up on soft business skills like communication, timeliness, leadership, and more.
7. Explore every opportunity you can think of.
Don't limit yourself. Think big, throw everything at the wall. Spending a few hours researching one possible career path costs you very little, but you'll benefit immensely from shaking things up in your head and drilling down to what you really want to do.
8. Highlight your military accomplishments.
Because most civilians don't understand the military, especially the day to day of it all, you'll have to draw a clear picture on what you accomplished during your service. That doesn't mean you need to lay down all the brutal details, but figure out how your service relates to the qualities an employer is looking for in a candidate.
9. You don't have to say yes to the first opportunity.
Unless you're truly in need of a job, don't settle for the first opportunity that floats by. Just because it's there doesn't mean you need to take it. If you've planned properly, you should have plenty of time and resources to figure out the right job for you.
10. Make a strong first impression.
Slovenly dress and behavior didn't fly in the military, and there's no reason why those standards shouldn't carry over to the civilian world. Of course, civilians tend to be more relaxed, so you don't need to be quite as urgent or gung-ho. But, maintain high standards for yourself fin terms of dress, directness, and professionalism.