Start Your Military-to-Civilian Transition Off Right

Judy,’s popular guest writer and resident expert on the talents of veterans and corporate America, offers military job seekers insight on today’s job market and outlines the first step to a successful job search. In the following article, she tells transitioning veterans not to put the cart before the horse so to speak. To conduct the most efficient job search possible and land not just a job, but a career, one must take stock of his or her values and beliefs.

Getting Started in Your Military Transition

For many transitioning veterans, the economy has transformed the job search process into an uphill battle. Military job seekers are in a seller’s market. Companies are able to select from an array of top tier talent at bargain basement prices. It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially for transitioning veterans who have risked their lives in service to their country only to find themselves faced with yet another battle on foreign terrain, the civilian job market. Business language differs from military jargon and new social media and job search tools pose yet another challenge. Rest assured veteran job seekers, this new era of “tweeting” and “branding” via social electronic media is new to us all. With any luck, the following tips will help you better prepare for your next opportunity.

Let’s walk through the first step in a career search. By now, most of us are familiar with popular job search sites. But these sites are not the best place to begin a job search. Luckily, your military training has instilled you with confidence and resourcefulness as evidenced by the very fact that you are reading this article on (I also highly recommend  Glean as much advice as you can from resources such as these and then do some soul searching before you invest in professionally preparing your personal marketing tools and honing your presentation delivery (i.e. your military resume, social media profiles, and interview techniques). It is important to fully understand who you are (strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, etc.) and what you are meant to do before you can build a brand to target the jobs that best suit you.

I recently spent some time with my own career mentors to discuss my own career development and found their direction and advice consistent. They asked me to look at my values and beliefs, make a list of what is important to me, and then find companies and career opportunities that support those beliefs. So, military job seekers, before we get to my next article, “Doer or Accomplisher,” in which I will discuss how you can word your experience to reflect the fact that you are an accomplished leader versus a static manager, take the time to do a personal inventory.

This personal inventory should be a time of reflection. Get to a quiet place and list your values and beliefs. Write out what is important to you. While doing this, don’t worry about how silly and unrealistic it may sound, just write. I know; you are getting antsy. Time is ticking and you need a job. But think about it… getting a job is important… but not as important as getting the right job. Those of you who are married, did you select your partner because you wanted somebody – anybody? Or did you take the time to self-reflect and find the right person? When you selected which branch of the service to go into, did you randomly select? Or did you research the branches to find the best fit? Why not follow the same approach during your job search? The military has provided you with the best training and a disciplined mind. Not everyone can endure the level of development you have endured. Knowing this, do not sell yourself short and accept a job that merely pays the bills. Veteran job seekers can choose jobs that align with their core values and enjoin in a lasting partnership.

So take the time this week to reflect on who you are, what you want, and what you have to offer an employer. Once you do this, you will be prepared for the next article and action item: preparing your introduction – your military resume and your brand.

To clients, I also recommend  hashing out key work considerations such as ideal working environment (indoor/outdoors, part of a team/working alone, diverse/like-minded groups, etc.), work motivators (such as financial security, creativity, advancement, intellectual challenge, fixing equipment, etc.), and favorite work skills (organizing, negotiating, writing, problem solving, communicating, etc.), in addition to the key personality considerations (personality type, interests, strengths, achievements, core values, and life goals).

Compile a list of any and all careers that interest you in the slightest – no matter how wacky they may sound. Ask your inner circle for help. Then bounce that list off of your list of key work and personality considerations. Where do the two lists synch up? Start your career search there. I realize this is easier said than done. But like Judy said, investing the mental and emotional energy into this self-reflection exercise will go a long way in your militay job search.

Judy Navarrete contacted me at to express her interest in sharing her vast human resources and operations management experience and insight into the business world with military job seekers.  Her observations are food for thought as you reflect on your own military experience (and how it applies to corporate America) when preparing your military resume or for an interview.  She draws on her conversations with a poised and well-respected Marine Corps Staff Sergeant to craft informative lessons of her own.  To see all of Judy’s acclaimed articles, keyword search for “Judy”.