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How to Successfully Transition From Military Service During COVID-19
July 27, 2020

When it comes to recruitment and finding jobs, COVID-19 hasn’t exactly made the market great for new graduates or service members transitioning out of the military.  

Despite the United States lowering its unemployment rate to 11.1% in June, the unemployment rate still represents a sharp rise from the average rate of 3.5% between July 2019 and February 2020. For service members, planning a transition from the military to the civilian economy is an arduous task even in the best environment. Add in a global pandemic, record unemployment, and companies taking action to slow hiring, and the transition from the military becomes exponentially more difficult.

For military personnel, facing challenging situations is nothing new. In my experience, service members are regularly required to complete challenging tasks, with limited supplies and constantly changing variables.  But, in order for members to successfully transition, it is imperative to utilize the processes learned during their service such as gathering intelligence, planning, tenacious execution, and flexibility. 

Gathering Intelligence and Planning

1. Time is the first thing a transitioning service member should assess. The time available to a service member before an ETS, directly affects the allocation of efforts between gathering information and planning. 

It is important not to underestimate the time needed to execute a transition plan. Moreover, starting a transition plan early to ensure there is maximum terminal leave available to be flexible with a start date, may be very attractive to employers waiting to hire until business starts to normalize. 

2. Consider geographic location. Different locations will have varying restrictions related to travel, personal contact, and the location’s phase of reopening. It is imperative a service member knows the environment in which they intend to execute their transition plan because it will affect the types of job search activities available. 

3. Narrow the position(s) desired, along with credentials and certifications required to be competitive.

4. Identify target employers, research the employers, and research their industry. A plethora of information is available, especially for publicly-traded companies, to glean whether a potential employer is hiring or, even, in a position to hire in this environment. 

Information is key to developing a plan that eliminates low probability of job search activity. For example, if a transitioning service member is spending 80% of their time searching for a position with an oil and gas company; that time may not provide the best return on investment because the industry is currently struggling and will not likely recover to pre-crisis levels any time soon. 

Best-case scenarios indicate oil prices may return to pre-crisis levels by 2021 or 2022 because demand has plummeted. Accordingly, oil and gas companies are taking necessary action to preserve cash. 

5. Use the information gathered to develop a transition plan that identifies what additional requirements/certifications will aid in marketability, where to focus the job search, what jobs to apply for, what industries to focus on, and growing a network in the industry and career field desired.  


transitioning member working on computer

Execute your transition plan with tenacity and flexibility

Get comfortable with hearing the word no. 

Transitioning into the civilian economy, whether as an employee or by starting a business, will be tedious. Executing your transition plan will require constant and active engagement. You are setting yourself up for failure if you believe applying for 10-12 jobs per day online or simply posting your resume on job sites is good enough. Passive and scatter approaches will very likely end in disappointment. 

Instead, utilize the resources available to service members such as a free premium career LinkedIn subscription, virtual job fairs, and virtual employer engagements arranged by veteran organizations. 

Whether written or verbal, work on an effective elevator pitch. Respond directly to job posters and hiring managers emphasizing the attributes that set you apart from other applicants. Stay flexible to shift efforts in a different direction if you are not receiving positive feedback. Remember, through all the peaks and valleys of your transition – never let up and continue grinding.

If you are targeting a career in tech, consider SkillStorm

Our hire, train, certify, and deploy program is built to accelerate transitions from the military into rewarding tech careers. We specialize in highly sought-after software architecture applications, in which all individuals may find success even with no prior programming experience. 

Of course, you will need to pass an initial tech screening to demonstrate you have the basic aptitude to complete our training program. But, SkillStorm provides free on-ramp micro-courses through our StormSurge website which will prepare you for the tech screen if you put in the sweat equity. 

Once enrolled in our training program, you will be immersed in a curriculum to train you to proficiency in the most sought after system architecture applications in the tech industry. Moreover, SkillStorm will pay for your testing to receive the necessary certifications.

Our training program is also designed to improve your soft skills with group presentations of complex material, collaborative projects, and coaching. When you complete our 4-6-month training program SkillStorm deploys our employees to work on cutting edge tech consulting projects with our Fortune 500 clients along with state and federal government agencies which will often require active security clearances. 

If you’re a transition service member and this sounds like something you may be interested in, shoot us an email at military@skillstorm.com


An innovation and opportunity accelerator, SkillStorm is the surging force behind the transformation of today’s tech workforce.

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