You are leaving the comfort and security of a military career.
You are equally excited and scared. Being told where to go, when to go, what job you’ll have and how much you will be paid are conveniences for a lot of military members and their families.
But, along with change comes new opportunities.
This time around, you are the one who gets to decide.
With so many different career paths, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. This guide will help narrow those roads down and also provide you with examples of jobs and skills you’ve used in the military that directly translate to your future.
Scroll down for a list of the best jobs for transitioning military officers.
What Is Your Dream Job?
Before you head to LinkedIn or start drafting your resume, it’s important to be thoughtful and strategic about your transition into the civilian workforce.
Take the time to sit down with yourself and be intentional about creating your vision for your next job.
Your journey starts with taking ownership of your situation and assessing what you bring to the table. There are basic steps you can take to help you determine what your dream career looks like.
It’s important to remember that while you have many applicable skills from your time in the military, you don’t have to limit yourself to your past service career.
Focus on the next phase of your life and what would bring you the most fulfillment.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
- What do you want to do now that you are transitioning to the civilian world?
- What do you want your second career to look like?
- What skills and experience do you have that can convert to relevant strengths in the civilian field?
For the first time in your career, you have the luxury, and responsibility, of figuring out what success looks like for you.
Step 1: What Does A Day In Your New Work Life Look Like?
After a career of service, you might be thinking, “A 9-5 sounds pretty nice.” And that is perfectly okay.
The military offers many benefits, but alongside that are some uncertainties. Wanting a stable, consistent schedule and work-life balance for your next phase of life is normal.
Consider the following questions:
- Do you want an early start to your day?
- How far of a commute do you want?
- Are you willing to travel? If so, how often?
- Would you want to take on a managerial role or report to someone directly?
- Do you want to work on weekends or holidays?
- Is being on call an option?
- What would your ideal dress code be?
Are any of your answers to these questions deal-breakers for you?
Think about how these will structure your work day and figure out what your limits are. It will help you weed out positions and career fields that may not make you happy in the long run.
Step 2: Define The Type Of Work You Want To Do
Consider what type of work you do in the military. Maybe you’re a group commander or have another leadership position in your squadron.
Do you see yourself continuing to lead others in a collaborative environment? Or are you ready for more workplace independence?
Let’s take a look at how an Air Force Major considered the type of work he wanted to do after his military career.
Major Matt loved his time working as a development engineer. It gave him the opportunity to travel and see lots of new places. But that also meant a lot of time away from home, working odd hours, and lack of a routine.
As he finishes his 14-year career, Major Matt looks back on his time in the military and realizes that while his job served him well, it doesn’t quite fit the lifestyle he is looking to live in the next phase of his life.
He’s looking for more time at home and a steady day-to-day work schedule.
As he contemplated the type of work he wanted to get into, Maj Matt decided the best way to figure it out was to spend time writing down his thoughts.
Doing this allowed him to remember and keep track of points that were important to him, and not overlook any small detail while planning out his future.
Step 3: Write Down The Type Of Company Where You Want To Work
Now it’s time to get specific. The civilian workforce is chock full of different types of companies. Think about the ideal structure and culture of the company you’d like to launch your next career in.
Do you want to work for:
- A privately-owned company
- A large company
- Government sector – State or Federal
Maybe you’re thinking of starting your own business. Entrepreneurship is on the rise and gives you ultimate control of your work life.
You might consider buying a franchised business, starting an LLC, or opening a brick-and-mortar.
It’s not without its challenges, but if you are dedicated and driven, you are well on your way to making your passion your next job.
Click here to get free access to our online course that teaches you to start a business.
Does the Type of College Degree Matter?
Veterans offer a unique set of skills, experiences and leadership abilities developed and honed during their years in the military.
But maybe that experience doesn’t include a college degree in the area that you are looking to move into. You might be wondering, “Can I still get one of the best jobs for transitioning military officers?”
The answer is yes.
You might need to think outside the box when it comes to building your resume and highlighting your skills, but if you show enthusiasm and commitment, you can easily set yourself apart.
Keep in mind, though, that some specific jobs and companies will require a certain type of college degree because the jobs require a specialized skill set that you might not have without certain qualifications.
Best Jobs For Transitioning Military Officers
To find the best jobs for transitioning military officers, and which job will be best for you, start by looking at your resume.
In today’s high tech society, many companies have several steps when it comes to reviewing resumes.
Having a clear understanding of each company’s selection process is critical.
Will your resume first be viewed by an individual in Human Resources, the hiring manager, a team of individuals, or electronically?
Your best bet for having your resume read by a hiring manager is to cater each resume you send to the specific job posting. Your goal is to translate military-speak into words that would show your value to a civilian employer.
Most civilians have zero knowledge when it comes to military acronyms, so if you use any in your resume, be sure to use the full technical name and put the acronym in parentheses.
Try your best to add buzzwords into your resume, or include specific words that were called for in the job listing.
Now that you have crafted a great resume, you can begin the search and application process.
Step 1: Make A List Of 20 Dream Companies
At this point, you’re well on your way to making your dream job a reality.
You’ve identified what type of work you want to do, what type of company you want to work for, what kind of work-life balance you’re aiming for.
Now that you have those established, you can start to put the pieces together.
Think of companies that support a cause you’re passionate about or that is important to you. Consider places you currently drive by on your way to work or larger companies that you buy from.
With these in mind, make a physical list of 20 dream companies you’d love to work for. Be sure to leave space next to each company name as a place to jot down any notes.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to restrict it by location- there are a lot of remote jobs available!
Step 2: Find Out What Type Of Positions Your Those Dream Companies Are Hiring
Now, it’s time to hit the web.
Do some online searches and see if the companies you listed are hiring, and what types of positions they have available.
At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published, according to NPR. So even if the company you’re searching does not have any public listings for positions, it doesn’t mean they aren’t hiring.
Additionally, many companies currently have an “open application” meaning if you don’t see a position that fits your skillset, you can still submit your resume.
You can pitch your ideal job description and if it fits their needs, they’ll consider a job opening, or just keep your resume on file.
There are two simple ways to find out if one of your dream companies is hiring.
- Check their website directly. Many have a “Careers” tab either in their top dropdowns or at the very bottom of their site.
- Head to networking websites like LinkedIn, and online job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor, or Monster.
There are also veteran-specific job boards that you can use in your search:
Set up a profile on each site and register to receive alerts on new job listings. You can get updates daily, or weekly, depending on the site and your preference.
Step 3: Reach Out To Fellow Veterans That Work At Those Companies Now
Now that you have the companies you’d love to work for, you need to connect with people within those companies.
Search on LinkedIn, the company’s website, Google, etc., to find fellow veterans that you can connect with.
Send them an email or LinkedIn direct message introducing yourself.
Let’s look at Major Matt again. He might write something like:
My name is Joel Matt, and I’m transitioning out of the military after 14 years and am looking to pursue a fulfilling career in the tech industry.
I see that you’re a successful distribution manager and fellow veteran.
Is it possible to have 5-10 minutes of your time for a quick phone call to discuss your role at TechNC and see how you made the transition?
Thank you in advance for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.”
Leveraging your fellow veterans and their connections can help you get your foot in the door at one of your dream companies.
1. Use LinkedIn To Find Former Military Working For The Companies You Want To Work For
LinkedIn has many tools that can help you find other former military members working for your dream company.
If you type the name of your dream company into the search bar, you’ll get two options. You can search the company for “jobs” or “people.”
To find former military, you’ll want to search “people.”
Anyone who has listed on their LinkedIn profile that they currently work or have worked at that company will pop up.
2. Make Connections & Network
Look for any current connections you have and don’t be afraid to reach out to a 2nd or 3rd connection. You might have both worked with someone in the past and can use that as a point of connection.
Understand that networking is a huge part of landing your dream job.
The more people you can introduce yourself to and make meaningful connections with inside a company, the better.
Step 3: Be Relentless In Your Pursuit To Find The Best Job For You
To land your dream job, you have to work hard and prove you are the right candidate for the job.
Don’t just say it, show it. Give concrete examples of how you can add value to their business.
That includes never letting the ball fall into your court.
You have to follow up. Think hand-written thank you cards, “thank you for your time” emails, and “it was a pleasure meeting you” phone calls.
The executive managing editor of Insider Inc. has hired hundreds of people over 10 years. She uses an easy test to see whether a candidate really wants the job and is a “good egg”.
If they don’t send a “thank you” email, she doesn’t hire them.
So, be respectfully relentless. It will pay off.
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