Transitioning back to the civilian world after a career in the military can be daunting, to say the least. It’s a different world to that of the military, and finding the right job is important. Many military service members take jobs that don’t align with their abilities, skills or military training.
And many times, employers fail to recognize the true value of a military member’s leadership skills, maturity and career development. But with preparation, you can translate your experience into the perfect job for you and one that you’ll enjoy. There are plenty of careers that would love to have someone from the military join the team, like law enforcement and the security industry.
So, when you take off your military uniform, you may don the durable tactical vest and rugged tactical pants of a police officer or undercover bodyguard. Here are some tips for finding a job after the military.
Check for Military Job Assistance Programs
The military has transition assistance programs, or TAPs, to help outgoing military members find jobs that fit their skills. They help with updating your resume, assessing your job skills and teaching you interviewing techniques and strategies. TAPs also offer networking workshops and supply job resources for companies that prefer to hire service members.
These programs are great resources to help you pick the best civilian career based on what you did in the military. So, sign up for the TAP classes as soon as you can, as in even a year before your separation.
Identify Your Job Skills
Some employers love hiring military people, and others may not realize just how great you are. But you’ll need to convince possible employers why they need to hire you, so knowing what skills you bring to the table helps.
What are you good at? What’s your educational background? What special tools, software or equipment can you use?
Narrow Down Your Job Choices
You may need to do a little soul searching to narrow down what you want to do. Is there something you wanted to do if you hadn’t chosen the military as a career? Your dream job may mean that you need further education to do it, and that’s fine as long as you’re willing to learn. Here are some ideas for jobs that are good for people who served in the military:
- Defense contracting
- Logistics – Warehousing and Transportation
- Government jobs
- Financial services
- Information technology
- Law enforcement
Law enforcement is the closest thing to the military because of the discipline and structure of police agencies. So, many service members get jobs as police officers, deputies or agents. Narrowing down what you want to do helps you tweak your resume and customize it to the jobs you’re looking for.
Once you get an idea of what you want to do, start researching the types of jobs open. Look for positions that might interest you. Make sure you understand what the job entails. Employers know when someone is really interested and takes the time to understand exactly what they’ll be doing in that job.
When researching for jobs, you may be tempted to apply for any and all to find employment. But stick to what you’re good at. You are more likely to find and keep a job related to what you are good at doing.
Get Your Paperwork Together
You’ll need to gather all your paperwork to apply for jobs and take it with you on interviews. Here are the documents you need:
- Valid identification
- Social security card
- College and high school transcripts
- Copies of your resume
- Military discharge paperwork (DD-214)
- Writing paper, pencils, pens, rubber bands, paper clips
- A complete master form or application filled out that has all your pertinent information
Customize Your Resume and Cover Letter
One of the most important parts of applying for jobs is customizing your cover letter and resume, especially since almost everything is done online now. You can keep a general template for both so that you can edit them quickly and tailor them to each job you apply for.
Customizing everything shows that you took the time to read the job details and learn more about the agency or company you’re applying to. Make sure you do this with every application for the best chance for success.
Law Enforcement as a Career Choice
As mentioned earlier, law enforcement is a great job because of the command structure and skills needed to be an officer. If you’ve been a military police officer, transitioning to a police officer outside the military will be even easier.
You’ll want to apply to as many agencies as possible, especially the departments that will put you through the police academy. Often, there is an application process where you’ll have to pass a physical assessment and take a basic standardized test.
If you pass those two tests, you may be required to take a polygraph test and interview in front of a panel of officers and supervisors. If you’re chosen, you’ll be off to police academy and field training.
Plus, you’ll be able to use some of the things left over from your military career, such as your tactical pants, tactical flashlight and other military items. Going to work as a police officer has its pros and cons, but it’s a very good job with structure and very rewarding, just like your military career.
People separating from the military often have problems with being unemployed. They are used to working every day, and being without a job can wear on your self-esteem. But have faith! Planning and preparation for your job hunt can help you find a good job faster–one you actually enjoy doing.
Sign up for a TAPs program as soon as you know you’re leaving the military. They can provide invaluable support and even help you decide which career best matches your job in the military. Then, you’ll have a career that you can be proud of and excel in once you leave the service.