Finding a Career After the Military



Date: Author:

Blaine Zimmerman

Finding a career after the military. For some of you, you know exactly what you want to do when you transition out of the military—maybe you even have the decision narrowed down to a specific position at a specific company. If I just described your situation, that’s great…but keep reading. There are some very important factors that you are going to want to consider as you go through your transition journey. 

Figure out what is important to you (and your family).  

Flexible work hours? Vacation time? A rewarding/fulfilling career? A high salary? Some or all of these? Before really diving into researching companies and applying for your next career, sit down with your family and discuss. If you’re single, seek out a mentor and have this conversation; someone who knows you, will listen to you, and will push back if necessary.  You must have a solid understanding of what is important to you before you start to pick out career fields and companies. As you go through different phases of life, this answer will change, so be prepared to have this conversation every few years. 

Find an industry that you can transition to that aligns with your “why.”

Once you know what you’re looking for in a post-military career, start by researching industry pathways and finding potential careers that align with your goals.  Keep sight of your current experience level while reviewing opportunities, however.  If you have zero technology experience, maybe don’t set Google and Facebook as your top companies. If you’re like me, and have an Infantry background, you may be thinking “I don’t know what industry to look at with my background besides law enforcement.” Well, as a combat arms veteran, you did more than shoot guns and blow stuff up. You trained subordinates, wrote training plans, managed projects, and created presentations for leadership. These are all qualities civilian employers are looking for. Be open to new ideas. For example, manufacturing and logistics are more than just working in a factory or driving a truck, and many careers in these industries have high-paying roles after just a couple of years of experience (as well as a promotion structure similar to the military). 

Find companies that align with your values.

Once you’ve decided on an industry or two, start researching companies within these industries; take note that those words are pluralized intentionally.  You should be prepared to apply for multiple roles before landing your job. You can start by a simple Google search of “Best companies in X Industry” or go to a place like Glassdoor or Monster to review specific companies. You will see reviews by current and former employees; keep in mind that often people writing reviews are either very happy or very upset with the company. Make sure you’re researching things like average salaries, vacation time, and work-life balance. Once you find a list of 10-20 companies, rank them in order of where you would most like to work. 

Find the specific roles that interest you and start applying.

Here is where the fun part begins. Depending on which study you read, across the board it takes about 100 applications to get a job offer. Obviously we’re talking averages here, and there are things that you can do to help you lower that number. But, it’s important to understand that you will definitely need to apply to multiple positions. You have less than an 8% chance to land a job with a single application. I know this might sound overwhelming, but it’s better to know the facts: be prepared to apply. A lot. The more prepared you are for applying multiple times, the better. And remember, you want to cater your resume to each specific role you apply to—do not take a one-size-fits all approach. It should be tailored to the job description. 

I know it may seem overwhelming, but luckily, you’re already in a spot that can help you with the transition process and with a foot in the door to companies that are looking to hire Veterans like you. With our vast network of employer partners, we can help make those key introductions for you that will help you bypass some of the hiring doors and hopefully keep your application number on the low end. If you haven’t already, create a profile, and let us know how we can assist your transition today!