5 Job-Hunting Tips to Smooth Your Military-to-Civilian Transition

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When you’re getting out of the military, finding a civilian job is a tough but necessary step to take. Here are five tips that can make that process a whole lot easier:

  1. Avoid Acronyms on Your Applications

    This may sound simple, but it can make a huge difference in how your resume and cover letters are viewed throughout your hunt for a civilian job. The military uses literally hundreds of acronyms that are unknown to civilians, and you’ll want to cut all of them from your application materials. Even if it takes more space to write things out (meaning you can’t fit all your experience on the single sheet that’s recommended), it’s better to explain just a few things clearly than to bombard the hiring manager with dozens of bullet points filled with meaningless letters.

  2. Play Up Your Character and Qualities

    Many veterans struggle to articulate what are called “transferrable skills,” or the skills gained in the military that apply to civilian jobs. If you’re having trouble figuring out what loading cargo planes, for example, has to do with managing a corner store, then stop looking at physical tasks and start examining the skills, character traits and qualities behind them: punctuality, trustworthiness, attention to detail, etc.

  3. Take Advantage of Free Resources

    Most communities offer quite a few services to veterans, whether that’s through the military, the VA or local nonprofits. You may be able to take workshops, get new certifications and attend specialized job fairs all for free.

  4. Look Into Military Transition Recruiters

    Military transition recruiters work much as other types of recruitment firms (logistics recruiters, public sector recruiters, supply chain recruiters, HVAC recruiters, etc.) do, meaning that they act as an intermediary between applicants and companies with open positions. This benefits you as an applicant because it means your resume is less likely to get stuck at the bottom of some giant stack. And in many cases, you won’t need to pay anything to these firms, since their costs are covered by the companies doing the hiring. And by going specifically through military transition recruiters, you can get help with “civilianizing” your experience.

  5. Expect Some Difficulties at First

    Don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t work out immediately. Transitioning from the military to civilian life can be difficult, and there’s absolutely no shame in admitting you need help and taking advantage of all the resources at your disposal. If you shut people out — either the people closest to you or professionals who can help with your transition — you’ll only make it harder.

Do you have any tips to add? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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