Matching Your Military Skills to a Career
If you are a veteran planning a transition into civilian life, you’re most likely considering the best ways to leverage your experience and skills formed in the service to a good-paying and fulfilling career. Luckily, there are several resources available to help make your transition easier and more successful.
Consider Registered Apprenticeship Programs
Regulated by the Federal Government, Registered Apprenticeship programs help ensure veterans participating in trade apprenticeships will complete their training in a timely manner, moving from low- or no-skill entry level to certified credentials and full-occupational proficiency. These programs are common in traditional industries such as construction and manufacturing, but are also growing in emerging industries like healthcare, energy, and homeland security. In addition, if you qualify for the GI Bill, you may be able to use those benefits to help pay for housing, books, and supplies during your apprenticeship.
Explore Career-Specific Programs for Vets
Some industries provide direct links to your previous military service, while others offer a fresh new start. In many cases, there are established support program specific to veterans looking to enter the new career field. These programs often offer guidance on training, eligibility, processes, and networking. For example:
- Troops to Teachers (TTT)
- Helmets to Hardhats
- Military to Mariners
- Veterans in Piping (VIP)
Utilize Online Career Translators
A most direct way to see how your military skills map to industry skills is to use a so-called online translator, like the one at TAOnline.com. This tool that allows you to type in key skills or terms from your military career, press submit, and see results with matching civilian careers. Many of these sites also partner with featured employers who see the benefits of hiring from the veteran population, where leadership and hard work has already been proven.
Get Resume-Writing Support
With the large number of veterans transitioning back into civilian life, specialized companies sprung up to provide resume-writing services for veterans. Companies like MilitaryResumeWriters.com consider your important documents and records – such as NCOERs, FitReps, OERs, OPRs, Job Descriptions, Awards, and Performance Evals – and help mold them into a resume attractive to your desired line of work. The process usually entails a phone consultation, a bid on the work they will provide, and then correspondence with one of their professional writers over a timeline of about two weeks to review and refine your resume.
Conduct a Veteran-Specific Online Search
Well-known job search engine Monster.com recently teamed up with Military.com to create ShowYourStripes.com, a veteran-specific portal for job searches. Similar to the skills translator, you can simply enter your branch, pay grade, and military title, and can instantly find key skill sets and phrases from your military map to these skills. Jobs are instantly listed with location and link to job description, making your online search as efficient as possible.
Prepare Yourself for Working in Corporate America
Working in the civilian world be quite a change, so it’s helpful to take some time to prepare for the transition. For example, during an interview, you’ll want to avoid military lingo that most civilian employers might not understand. Be sure to be prepared to explain how your experience maps to the job requirements, but don’t be overly modest or assume the interviewer will know how your skills relate. Instead, use the job requirement bullet points in the description to mentally prepare examples from your military experience. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, as well as answers to why you are transitioning out of the military. Also be sure that your online presence – specifically social media – is clean and appropriate for when potential employers search for your name.
As you search for the next step in your career, keep in mind that your time in the military is proof that you know how to work hard, that you have great real-world experience, and that you are used to working up to a high standard. With these helpful tools and some perseverance, you can make the most of your military experience, finding the right opportunity that opens the next chapter in your life. Good luck!
Written by Megan Hammons