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How to Successfully Transition from Active Military into the Workforce
By Ben Mathews
April 25, 2020
CAREER

When I left active duty, the resources available to aid in transition were limited. I was required to attend a TAP program, acquired a DD-214, and then started my 60-days of terminal leave thinking I had ample time, education and training to find a civilian position. Afterall, I had a bachelor’s degree and 8 years of military experience – finding a good position would be easy. Right?

Wrong. I was completely ill-prepared for what the reality of my opportunities were. No employer will hire you simply because of your military service.

While I didn’t have a lot of resources available, I certainly gained a lot of knowledge from my experience. Below are some of the lessons I learned that will hopefully aid in your own transition after leaving the military.

Begin planning your transition early

In my experience, depending on certain variables (e.g., job market conditions, level of position sought, etc.), a successful job search takes three to nine months.

After separating from the Army, I only saved a month’s worth of pay, resulting in the necessity to accept a position I didn’t want after approximately four months (including my terminal leave) of aimlessly applying for positions. It took another three months to finally get an offer for a position I wanted within the salary range I expected.

Identify the position(s), industry, or companies you are targeting

Before you begin to blast a stock resume to every online positing that seems interesting, take inventory of your skills and experience. Identify the job(s) that will keep you engaged in your career as it progresses and determine whether you have all the credentials and skills required to be competitive. From there, hone in on certain industries or companies you find interesting.

The goal is to narrow your search to the positions in the industry or companies will best meet your career goals. By taking out the extra noise, it will make the search much simpler.

Do your research

Reconnaissance is the foundation for good operation planning. There is no difference when you are planning your transition into a new position post-military.

Once you’ve identified the position(s), industry, and companies you’re targeting in your job search, do your research to get to know them. Is there industry lingo you should know? How does the industry fit into the national economy?

Review a company’s website, learn about its senior leadership, know the company’s core values, view the company’s financials (if available), and read the most recent articles about the company.

If you know any employees in the industry or at the companies you are targeting, make connections on LinkedIn and begin networking. Learning everything you can about an industry or company will help you develop focused resumes, prepare you for interviews, and reveal potential networking connections.

Prepare focused resumes

Your resume should be specifically tailored to the job and company you are applying to.

It is likely your resume will be reviewed for less than 10 seconds. So, you have a limited time to demonstrate you have the skills and experience required to be competitive.

Translate your military experience for the civilian hiring manager. Communicate accomplishments, not responsibilities. Anyone occupying your position will carry the same responsibilities so it’s vital to differentiate yourself by listing your accomplishments and successes.

Civilian employers will value your leadership experience, problem-solving, and tenacity to accomplish the mission. Make sure these qualities are communicated in your focused resume.

Soft skills are important

If you are asked to interview it is likely the hiring manager determined your resume contained the skills and experience needed to do the job. Great, you’ve cleared that hurdle.

Next, an interview is required to assess whether you fit within the organization and its culture. Are you the person others will want to work with under tight deadlines and pressure to excel? This is your opportunity to demonstrate highly refined soft skills and dismiss negative veteran stereotypes. Highlight your experience from the military and how it developed your communication skills, adaptability, working with others as a team to accomplish a goal, and collaborative problem-solving.

Your research on the organization will prepare you to effectively communicate how you fit and how your experience is an invaluable asset to the company.

We can help

SkillStorm’s recruit, train, and deploy program is built to accelerate your transition from the military into a rewarding tech career. We provide opportunities to train in highly sought-after software development technologies, even if you have no prior experience with programming.

Of course, you will need to pass an initial tech screening to demonstrate you have the basic understanding of object-oriented programming needed to complete our training program, but we also provide free on-ramp microcourse training through our StormSurge website to prepare you for the tech screen.

In other words, we’re giving you the answers to the test and want you to be successful. Once enrolled in our training program you will be immersed in a curriculum to train you to proficiency in the most in-demand programming languages in the tech industry. Moreover, SkillStorm will pay for your testing in order to receive necessary certifications.

Our training program is also designed to improve your soft skills with group presentations of complex material, collaborative programming projects, and coaching.

When you complete our four to six month training program, SkillStorm deploys our graduates to work on cutting edge tech consulting projects with our Fortune 1000 clients and state and federal government agencies — which will often require active security clearances.

If you’re beginning the process of transition from military to civilian, we’d love to help accelerate your career! Find out more.

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