You survived boot camp, learned your skills in AIT or Tech School, applied those skills at locations around the globe, and now you’re ready to take the next step in your career: the transition from military to civilian life.
The best place to start is with a visit to your post’s or base’s Transition Office. There you’ll be assigned a transition counselor who will help you with all of your separation paperwork, how to make sure your household goods are packed and shipped to the right place, how to apply for veteran services and benefits, and help determine if going to school or entering the civilian workforce is the right path for you.
If you decide to start a civilian career, the Transition Office can help you create a resume that translates your military experience into civilian language. You’ll also get experience interviewing; how to dress, how to present yourself, and how to answer questions properly. The more practice you get, the easier it will be! Take advantage of all the services offered, because you’ll need to be just as prepared for your civilian career as you were serving our country.
The next thing you’ll need to do, if you haven’t done so already, is figure out where you’ll live next. Whether you’re going back home or starting somewhere new, figuring out where to live is important in your transition out of the military, because only then can you search for organizations in the area that help veterans and their families, local schools to attend, or companies to apply at. Your Transition Office can help with this too.
To find a good job, get help from recruiters and headhunters. Organizations such as Bradley Morris, Orion, and Lucas Group specialize in placing veterans in good jobs with established companies. They not only represent companies looking to hire veterans, but they also offer resume editing and interview preparation services. The civilian job market is competitive, so having a recruiter help you find a good job will reduce the time you spend looking and increase your chances of finding a job that meets your salary and career goals.
Lastly, keep your family involved in your transition. Becoming a civilian is difficult. The people you depended on will be gone, the routines you’ve known will no longer exist, and the ops tempo you’re used to is a lot slower on the civilian side of life. Expectations are different and things people get stressed out about are trivial compared to situations you dealt with as a military member. You’ll need your family more than ever for support, so it will help to have them close by or a call/text away. For your family members, remember that they’re transitioning too and can experience a lot of the same concerns you have. Make sure they’re part of the decision-making process every step of the way and take advantage of the services offered to them as well.
Thank you for your service, and I wish you the best of luck your transition.
Todd Bynon is a 10-year Air Force veteran and a manufacturing manager at a leading international aerospace company.