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Career Transition Tips for Veterans

What is one career transition tip you would offer a veteran?

To help veterans transition into a new career, we asked veteran-friendly CEOs and business professionals this question for their best tips. From easing into the transition to finding veteran resources, there are several strategies that may help you transition between your careers. 

Here are 11 career transition tips for veterans:

  • Translate Your Experience
  • Prepare for Interviews
  • Be Easy on Yourself
  • Create a Career Road Map
  • Use Your Military Skills
  • Optimize Your LinkedIn
  • Learn Corporate Talk
  • Find Veteran Resources
  • Reach Out to Your Network
  • Take Time to Get Reacclimated
  • Find a Veteran-Friendly Recruiter

Translate Your Experience 

Simply put: transfer your abilities, talents, and credentials into the working world. Sometimes it takes a little reflection to realize all the key qualities that one can offer by previously being enlisted. Many of our hires are veterans, including one of my co-founders. Their knowledge, experience, and attributes from service provide a wellspring of depth and versatility that can be useful for a wide variety of companies in business. The most important thing about this is translating the information and experience in a practical way.

Katie Lyon, Allegiance Flag Supply

Prepare for Interviews 

Practice with friends or create your own answers to common interview questions and say them out loud in front of the mirror. Be candid but also humble and relaxed when going into the actual interview. It’s better to over-prepare than under-prepare.

Vincent Bradley, Proper Wild

Be Easy on Yourself 

When I transitioned, I was an infantry officer one day and studying Spanish in Cartagena, Colombia the next. I had trained for eight years to be good at my job in the Army, and when I was back in the classroom, I was learning a new language and living in a completely foreign culture. I was hard on myself, and I didn’t ease off the gas as I was transitioning. My self-talk was rough, and I was frustrated to not be learning faster. 

Gradually, I learned to be easier on myself. I read books like “Atomic Habits” by James Clear about just trying to make small, consistent improvements. I focused on specific inputs like hours studied rather than outputs like test scores. This gave me a completely internal locus of control. Go easy on yourself and take it slow. As you transition, you will be off of the path in which you’ve accumulated skills and experiences. Be humble, put in the work to gain different skills, and keep the faith that everything will turn out alright. It will.

Wesley Jacobs, Apollo Medical Travel

Create a Career Road Map

Career transitions are never easy but start by taking inventory of your skills. Consider what your ideal job should look like and research the skills necessary for that job or jobs like it. Then, create a career road map that includes any gaps and transferable skills acquired over the years while serving in the military that is relevant to your ideal job or career.

See your skills gaps as an opportunity to learn and grow by completing a program or internship within your desired field. You can sign up for a college certification program, undergrad credits, or even use LinkedIn Learning for amazing resources to help you better navigate the process.

Use Your Military Skills 

Many skills that are obtained in the military will be extremely useful and beneficial for veterans entering the civilian workforce. Although the hierarchy will be different, there are still many comparisons between working on a team and the basic structure of the military. Leadership skills will be one of the easiest transitioning skills and should definitely be highlighted when interviewing for new positions.

Even though some skills will not be directly transferable, it’ll be helpful to strip down the tasks to a basic level and see if the general skills are in any way related to what you’ll want to do in your new position! If so, you’ll be able to speak about that general experience and feel more prepared for the new job.

Brandon Brown, Grin

Optimize Your LinkedIn 

LinkedIn should become your best friend. Spend time carefully crafting your profile to entice recruiters to reach out when they have job openings. You can search for jobs and easily apply to many with just one click using your profile. You can also utilize LinkedIn’s networking options, like looking in your feed for people posting about positions they are hiring for.

Benjamin Smith, DISCO

Learn Corporate Talk 

As you prepare for your career transition, be sure to know some corporate terminology and phrases. This is important because, in the military, you use military jargon all day. So be sure you know how to translate your ideas in a corporate setting, as well. This will help with your communication as you make your career transition.

David DiLorenzo, Valentino Beauty Pure

Find Veteran Resources

Take advantage of programs and workshops that the military offers to help service members as they transition careers. The programs are a valuable resource for you to use to put your plans into action. These programs can also help kick start your transition into a new career.

Tri Nguyen, Network Capital

Reach Out to Your Network

As you are making your career transition to civilian employment be sure to use your networking skills to reach out to the military network and make connections. The military network is so vast, that there are numerous organizations that bring vets together to find jobs and create stability as a civilian.

John Levisay, The Pro’s Closet

Take Time to Get Reacclimated

Transitioning from the military can be difficult. One tip would be to try to take a little time off if you can between being discharged from the military and starting a new job. Getting out into civilian life can be a major adjustment, and it might make the transition less stressful if you ease into it. Getting acclimated to your new life and spending time with your family will serve you well when you finally decide to take the plunge and start your new career.

Shaun Price, MitoQ

Find a Veteran-Friendly Recruiter 

There are plenty of recruiters with extensive experience in helping veterans transition to civilian life. Not only can they help you identify your transferable skills, but they can also connect you with potential employers. Plus, many of them have connections with veteran-friendly companies. Transitioning into civilian life can be difficult, so having someone help ease you into it can be helpful.

Brooke Wilson, Fabric