Did you always know that military life was in your future? Perhaps leaving high school and joining the armed forces was a natural next step for you. Whether due to retirement, injury, or otherwise, the decision to put your military career behind you is an equally important life decision. Deciding what to do afterward can be daunting, especially when you now have more worldly experience and likely dependents to care for and bills to pay.
Shifting from a military job to the civilian world will take hard work and focus on attaining your goals. Competition for employment is fierce, and treading into the job pool as an older candidate can be incredibly daunting. If you have been in the military, then we are sure you have the skills needed, but we are here to offer some advice and resources so that your second career can be as fulfilling as your first.
There are many resources available for veterans, from self-assessments to accessing funding for further education. Some veterans might find their path leaning towards a career in financial accounting, whereas others want to use their law enforcement skills. Regardless of your next course, there are a few essential tasks that you should look to tackle, which we have included below.
First things first
What do you want to do with the rest of your life? By now, you likely have a lot of experience that could be relevant in several different civilian professions. However, thinking outside of the box can be challenging when you are the one at the center of it all. You have likely garnered many intangible skills like teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, communication, and quick decision making that can apply to a wide variance of careers in different fields.
Consider what your most significant accomplishments have been to date and what you want to achieve next. Some people might be looking for the most lucrative career, but there’s no harm in admitting that you would prefer a job with less stress, flexible hours, or the ability to be part-time. Knowing the parameters will go far towards finding you a job that is fulfilling both personally and professionally.
Employers will look at your social media. While you should undoubtedly have an updated and relevant LinkedIn profile, ensuring that your profiles look professional is equally important. Project the image that a potential employer would want to hire.
Resume writing can be challenging for everyone, regardless of how far up the career ladder you are. It is natural to be wary of singing your praises, but this is the time to get over your shyness and get your skills down on paper. Consider asking friends for assistance, especially if they are in a role that involves hiring regardless of the field. Having an outside perspective is hugely worthwhile.
Resumes are best if fine-tuned to the position being applied for, but it is still valuable having a standard one that you can access as needed. Moreover, job sites like Indeed have a cache of millions of resumes that employers can search based on specific parameters. Ensure that your resume is not only listed but is relevant to the job description for the roles you are seeking.
Cover letters that grab an employer’s attention
The objective of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to a potential employer. Keep in mind that many employers are looking at dozens, or even hundreds, of job applications. In this case, regardless of how perfect you would be for the role, it can be easy to have your application lost in the mix.
Read the full job description and make sure your cover letter stands out and answers any relevant questions that that employer has identified. Also, ensure that the cover letter isn’t generic, and is fine-tuned to the exact role and company you are seeking.
Practice your interview
We are sure you are a personable candidate, but coming across with the right balance of professionalism, optimism, and aptitude can be tricky. Other candidates may have been in the civilian sector for much longer than you and be more proficient at the skills required when interviewing. Knowing how you look and how you present yourself to the world can be difficult, but this is another instance where practice makes perfect.
Check out Youtube interview questions and interviews that went wrong. Take the time to prepare to come across with the right balance of confidence and charisma without leaning towards cockiness or aloofness. Have an idea of questions that you would want to ask a potential employer, like ‘why is the position available?’
For some, the military and foreign policy is a lifelong career choice, whereas, for others, it is the springboard for a future in another field. Take advantage of the far-ranging resources that are on offer for veterans to find a fulfilling second career.