Are you wondering how to maximise your chances of landing a decent job in the civilian world after one or more years of military service? Even though there are plenty of free resources for helping people make the transition, the move is not always a simple one. Many newly discharged individuals want to finish college as quickly as possible and settle into a non-military life that offers long-term financial security.
The good news is that there are numerous ways of not only getting a college degree but also maintaining contacts with your former network. Plus, consider overcoming a few unique obstacles former service members can run into, creating a fresh resume that can lead to plenty of job interviews, leveraging your service experience for maximum pay, and more. Of course, the first step for many thousands of discharged individuals is earning a college diploma. Here is how to begin the process of assimilating into civilian life after serving your country in one of the branches of the armed forces.
Pay for College the Smart Way
The armed forces do a great job of covering education expenses for people on active duty. Plus, recently discharged members can receive substantial allowances for tuition, books, and other school-related costs. Still, there can be a lot left to pay for after that, so it only makes sense to hunt for available scholarship cash. Getting scholarships for college is the best way to pay for the remaining bills. Luckily, you can apply and search online for multiple scholarships at once. It is a smart way to save time and maximise your chances of paying for school without incurring debt. Between government subsidies based on your former service and scholarship money you find by applying online, it is possible to get a degree without hassles or delays.
Maintain Military Contacts
As you begin to build up your new career network, which should include names and contact information for anyone who can help you in current or future career moves, do not delete all the names you collected during your time in service. Some people use their entire network for years after discharge. One of the rules of networking is never to delete or remove a name from the master list unless someone asks you to do so.
Expect Some Career Resistance
There is great competition for civilian jobs and one small warning is in order: expect to encounter an occasional bout of anti-military attitude on the part of HR (human resources) personnel. Never try to hide or apologise for serving your country, even in the face of the very few who, for whatever reason, do not approve of the armed services. If you do run into one of these individuals during an interview, ignore their attitude and maintain a professional demeanour.
Rewrite Your Resume
Hire a certified resume writer who has experience with newly discharged job seekers. They know how to put your recent experience front-and-centre on a resume and get the most out of your time in service. Be certain to state how long you were on active duty, what your final rank was, what your job titles were, and that you were honourably discharged. Most corporate hiring agents are relatively unfamiliar with armed forces jargon and terminology, so use plain language on your new resume. View a top-notch resume as a long-term investment in your financial success. A flawless document that puts your skills and education up top and describes experience succinctly and clearly can open hundreds of doors. What you do once you land an in-person interview is up to you. But keep in mind that a resume’s primary function is to secure interviews, not get jobs.
Lose the Lingo
It might seem like a minor point but using military jargon in a civilian setting can make you look unbending and set in your ways, two qualities you do not want to project during an interview. Fortunately, most discharged members eventually lose their service talk habit after a few months. However, if you are interviewing soon after leaving the military, make an effort to use non-military wording whenever possible.
Leverage Your Experience
People working in any job while serving their country are far ahead of most civilians who search for entry-level positions. Your in-service experience is a powerful weapon that not only sets you apart from the majority of other candidates but gives you negotiation power in terms of starting salary.
Use a Search Service
Job search services make their money by charging employers a percentage of a new hire’s first year’s salary. As a job seeker, you pay nothing for the help provided by agencies that specialise in assisting people who need employment. Be careful to choose an agency that has a significant amount of experience working with ex-service members. Some have none at all, so always ask a company rep when you first make contact. Avoid any company that tries to charge you for their services.