Transitioning to a civilian job

Changing to a new job is difficult, especially your first job after leaving the military. Here are some tips to help you make an easier transition.

Using skills learned before and during military service, along with a positive attitude, can help make your transition from the military to a civilian job a bit easier. One reason you may find this career change so difficult is that your professional life makes up a significant part of your identity. Therefore when you transition from military to civilian life, you may need to learn how to overcome some career challenges.

Finding a successful career path is easier if you’re aware of the skill sets you already have and have some idea what sorts of jobs would give you fulfillment and meaning. Read on to learn some tips you might find useful in transitioning from your military service to finding a job as a civilian.

Tip #1: Use your past to improve your future.

You were raised with your own unique set of values or perspectives that you can use to your benefit in professional settings. An example may be your ability to communicate or work well with others. Another may be a skill-related certification or previous work-related experience. If you can put these sorts of resources to work in new and diverse settings, you’ll be able to cope well with professional transitions.

Tip #2: Develop a reasonable plan of action.

Some jobs require training or a proven skill set, so be realistic about your goals. Try thinking how you can use your own skills and perspectives in new settings. For example, if you were a cook in the military, you may have learned meal planning, cooking, and restaurant-management skills that can help you find a job in civilian life. Try writing out (A) where you want to be, (B) where you are now, and how to get from point A to point B.

Tip #3: Display optimism.

When you keep your head up and display a positive attitude, you make yourself more appealing as an employee. Remaining optimistic (or learning how) will also help you through any difficulties you may face transitioning out of your old job (the military) and into a new one (civilian life).

Tip #4: Remain adaptable to changing scenarios.

The labor market has changed drastically over recent years. New consumers, new producers, and new employee attitudes are constantly forcing the market to adapt. To be competitive, you need to be able to change too. Standing at attention and strictly following orders is often necessary in the military, but many other professional roles rely more on social connections and creative thinking than on hierarchy and rigidity. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, so the key is being able to do both. Make sure you can be flexible and adapt to your surroundings.