So, you’re about to become a civilian again. You’ve looked forward to it for a long time. You are excited about the opportunities that lie in front of you: a new job, a new career, one last move. 

But hold on for a second! It’s not that simple for everyone and it may not be easy, says Brian Papakie, Hope For The Warriors program manager for career transition. However, he’s here to help! 

Papakie knows a bit about military-to-civilian transition. He is a retired Marine Corps veteran and not that many years ago made that transition himself. Today, he helps his fellow veterans find civilian careers through Warrior’s Compass, a transition program within Hope For The Warriors that provides resources for veterans starting new careers and opportunities for employers to find qualified veteran candidates.

He has put together what he calls a “Transition Guide” to help veterans and their families with the transition into a non-military workplace. 

Following are a few of Papakie’s tips:

  • First and foremost, be prepared for the transition. Don’t wait until the last minute. It’s best to begin preparing at the beginning of your final year of service. Engage with your own personal network and let them know that you will be leaving the military. This is important because these are the people you are closest to and are most willing to help. And remember, they can only help if they know. Engage with them regularly and let them know what you are looking for.
  • As you look for positions outside of the military and within civilian organizations, it is vital that you remember the work culture you are used to will more than likely change. Make sure that you are looking at the structure and culture of an organization and how you will fit in. That is important for the longevity of a new career.
  • It cannot be stressed enough how valuable networking is while looking for a new career, and by networking we don’t just mean networking with just any other people that you may know. It means branching out methodically. Target organizations you are interested in working for, and use that list of companies to meet and connect with individuals from that field of work.

It is good to use LinkedIn as your professional networking platform. Veterans receive a free one-year Premium Career subscription, including one year of access to LinkedIn Learning and many other helpful features. Use LinkedIn to search for companies in which you have an interest. Another good idea is to make it a goal to meet one or two new people a week for an informational interview. Don’t be hesitant to connect; LinkedIn is not just another social networking platform. Business professionals and many companies use LinkedIn in the same fashion that you will by looking for the right employer. The only difference is that they are searching for the right candidate…and it could be you.

  • Make sure your resume is “demilitarized.” Unless you are applying for a government position or a contractor that supports the government, you really need to remove or translate the military jargon and acronyms in your work history. There are several good military job translators on the internet and Hope For The Warriors has one that is especially efficient. Our Warrior’s Compass translator not only translates the Military Occupational Specialty or MOS Code, but also applies the skills acquired from the rank attained in the military.  There are several additional skills that you have acquired from being assigned other duties outside of your normal MOS or job. Those skills are valuable to employers as well and some can often be more important than the main occupation that you’ve held during your time in the service.

Most veterans find it difficult in downsizing or summarizing their military accomplishments to a manageable and acceptable resume. Hope For The Warriors will provide help in preparing your resume, guiding you through the difficulties of determining parts of your military career that would be relevant in a new civilian job.

  • Make sure you reach out to peers and former co-workers who have been out of the military for a while. It’s a road they traveled, and they will gladly offer sound advice and information regarding experiences from their transition out of the military.

Remember, Hope For The Warriors can be a valuable asset as you plan to make the move out of the military. Much of that information such as, job training, military skills translation, candidate matching, mentorship from other veterans, building a strong resumé and access to 1,500+ companies that want to hire veterans may be found through the Warrior’s Compass program https://www.hopeforthewarriors.org/transition/warriors-compass/.