5 Tips for Finding Success and Direction After Leaving the Military



Date: Author:

Blaine Zimmerman

Ready to approach your transition to civilian life with a renewed sense of purpose?

Transitioning to civilian life seems to come with more questions than answers. How do you decide which career path is right for you? When should you start your job search? Which businesses and organizations are invested in supporting veteran success?

It’s easy to see why these questions overwhelm some service members. Many of them have never written a professional resume or interviewed for a corporate job. So how can veterans navigate their career changes with confidence and poise?

In this blog post, we’ll take on these tough questions and provide military transition tips for service members and their spouses.

How to Build a Successful Career after Leaving the Military

Serving your country is a tough act to follow. These five tips will give you a sense of direction and help you find exciting opportunities for your civilian career. 

  1. Understand that every service member’s transition is unique.

Each service member’s transition to civilian life moves at a different pace and presents unique challenges. The variance in rank, position and specialty makes it impossible to provide a one size fits all approach to transition impossible. Pivoting to a new career path is never easy, but completing some basic and preparatory steps will simplify your transition process, no matter which career opportunities you’re interested in pursuing next. Warning: these tasks involve paperwork. Although writing your resume, drafting a cover letter, and updating your LinkedIn profile aren’t the most exciting tasks, working on these professional documents at the beginning of your transition will save you time later on. 

  1. Take advantage of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP).

Transitioning to civilian life presents many hurdles for service members. Getting started is arguably the biggest challenge. That’s why taking full advantage of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) is absolutely vital. While almost all transitioning service members attend this program, it can be easy to let the vast amount of information flow right past you without letting it sink it. TAP provides valuable employment information and training, as well as one-on-one counseling and career workshops, for armed forces members who are within 180 days of separation or retirement. By providing a comprehensive overview of their veteran benefits, education options, and employment resources, TAP will help you jump-start your transition process.

  1. It’s never too early to start networking.

If you know you’re leaving the military, it’s time to search for a job—no matter how far away your transition is. Networking with veterans is one of the best ways to find job opportunities and learn about potential employers. Reach out to veterans who have transitioned and hold corporate positions in industries or companies you are interested in. Ask them how they approached their transitions to civilian life. Which transferable military skills did they emphasize while interviewing with prospective employers? What types of jobs did they target, and why did they accept their current positions?

Remember, the point of networking is not to ask these contacts for jobs. Your objective is to establish relationships with former service members. Who knows? Maybe these relationships will lead to job opportunities later on. 

  1. Focus on your strengths.

When exploring a new career path, it’s normal for service members to experience imposter syndrome. But remember, your next job isn’t your first job. As a member of the armed forces, you’re a highly qualified individual with a versatile skill set. To this point, you’ve devoted your professional life to honing your collaboration, communication, complex problem-solving and leadership abilities. All of these skills are highly desirable in the corporate world. As you apply for positions and interview with hiring managers, showcase the skills you developed in the military and explain how they’ll translate to new contexts. Sometimes it can be difficult to predict how your military experience will help in a civilian role, this is where your networking skills come in handy. As you prepare to apply 

  1. Connect with veteran-focused organizations.

Organizations (like INvets) that prioritize veteran success can connect you with employers who understand the value of your unique military skill set. INvets was founded to help armed forces members find meaningful roles within veteran-focused companies in Indiana. Are you currently planning your transition to civilian life? Whether you want to embrace a new challenge or climb the ranks at a reputable organization, you’ll find hundreds of relevant listings on our job board. Register for an INvets account today to start connecting with employers that want to hire veterans. 

Need help planning for civilian life in Indiana?

There’s no way around it. Transitioning to civilian life is difficult for most service members and their spouses. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to go through this process alone. 

INvets is here to serve those who have served our country. Although our main objective is to help you find career opportunities in Indiana, we do more than post job listings and facilitate interviews. From providing education and training to detailing Indiana’s financial incentives for veterans, we’re committed to helping service members find success and direction after leaving the military.

If you need additional support throughout your transition to civilian life in Indiana, get in touch with INvets. One of our veteran engagement specialists will reach out and help you plan your next move.