How to Transition from the Military to the Civilian Workforce
Making the transition from the military to the civilian workforce can seem intimidating. In some instances, you as a veteran might not have – or feel you have – the degrees, certifications, or skills needed to aid in the transition. Additionally, it can be challenging to replace the camaraderie and sense of fulfilling a higher purpose that come with military service. Check out our tips and resources to help make the transition successful and ultimately result in a career you’ll love.
1. Take career and personality tests.
Taking personality and career aptitude tests can be an excellent, practical place to start if you are a transitioning service member who is unsure where to begin with their civilian career path and job search. Free career tests and personality quizzes are also plentiful, so it’s easy to explore without breaking your budget. These tests can help you discover your:
- Work environment preferences.
- Motivators and demotivators.
- Personality traits and types.
It’s important to remember that no career assessment or personality test can ever wholly define you, and you may see varying results depending upon which tests you take. But, they can be an important resource in helping you to choose a career, identify career interests that will suit you for the long haul, and discover your professional passion
2. Utilize military transition programs.
The U.S. government provides several free programs to aid you in the transition from military to civilian life. The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) provides three different options:
Employment Fundamentals of Career Transition (EFCT)
This one-day workshop lays the foundation for life in the civilian workforce. You’ll learn about:
- Writing a resume.
- Creating and updating your LinkedIn profile.
- Evaluating job offers.
- Navigating the civilian work environment.
Department of Labor Employment Workshop (DOLEW)
This two-day workshop provides a comprehensive education in areas such as:
- Expanding your network.
- Asking for referrals.
- Getting your application past the applicant tracking system (ATS).
- Preparing for situational interview questions.
Career and Credential Exploration (C2E)
This course provides a personalized approach to exploring career and credentialing options. Participants:
- Learn about vocational training.
- Take a self-assessment.
- Explore career opportunities.
- Identify training options.
- Develop an action plan.
You can also take advantage of CareerOneStop, which can help you find workforce services related to employment and training in your local area.
3. Lean into transferrable skills.
While it might be difficult to find positions that you are exactly qualified for when transitioning to the civilian workforce, you attain valuable career skills during your military service that are transferrable to the civilian labor force. Highlighting these skills on your resume and being prepared to discuss them with specific examples during an interview can help you stand out from the crowd. Consider examples you could showcase for the following:
- Time management skills.
- Problem-solving skills.
- Leadership skills.
- Adaptability skills.
- Teamwork skills.
- Communication skills.
- Technological skills.
- Technical skills.
4. Look for employers who value veterans.
One of the best ways to ensure a smooth transition from the military to the civilian workplace is by finding an employer who will value your unique skills and understand and appreciate your service. Reviewing job boards specifically for veterans and reading job descriptions for preferences related to veteran status can be easy ways to start, but consider doing a deeper dive into how companies show they value veterans.
At Gannett Fleming, we know firsthand the immense advantage veterans bring to our team, and we’re active in recruiting them for rewarding careers with us in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry by:
- Participating in career fairs focused on veterans.
- Speaking and engaging in networking opportunities at barracks in our communities.
- Participating in programs to help veterans and their families, such as Stockings for Soldiers and Operation Ward 57.
We are also proud to have our Military Veterans at Gannett Fleming employee resource group, which is instrumental in:
- Creating a culture that recognizes the skills, contributions, and value that military veterans bring.
- Fostering veteran recruiting and career growth
- Supporting veterans and their families.
- Serving as a forum for veterans to interact and engage while providing Gannett Fleming with a competitive advantage in veteran recruitment, retention, and stakeholder relationships.
Additionally, we offer an apprenticeship program that allows veterans to learn valuable skills on the job while receiving the benefits and salary of a full-time employee.
5. Consider in-demand careers and industries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the U.S. provides detailed information on career and industry projections. It’s an excellent place to research how certain industries and careers are expected to grow, and it can help you get a sense of realistic salary expectations.
According to the BLS, careers in the AEC fields will grow 6% by 2030. This figure may increase now that the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed and the demand for new construction continues to grow following the pandemic. For architecture and engineering jobs, salary projections are particularly outstanding, with the median salary being $83,160 in May 2020, more than double the median annual wage for all occupations.
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