Veteran’s Guide for Transitioning to Work in The Private Sector

Veterans are significantly challenged when switching careers from the U.S. military to the civilian world and private sectors. Difficulties in skill transference account for the primary obstacle when looking for a new career. 

Even with a background of significant skill sets, these often do not translate well in the private sector, creating frustration for veterans. Further training is needed to bridge this gap and allow veterans to integrate into civilian life to sustain themselves and their families.  

Know what motivates you and transfer this to the job market

Simply being prepared to do whatever is required to complete a job, does not work in the private sector. This approach worked well in the military, but refined tactics and people skills are needed in the work world. 

Unless you want to start a boot camp to teach people how to lose weight and get fit, the tough attitude doesn’t work in the job sector. 

Be specific about what you can do when making job applications. Analyze your skills, aptitudes and personal attributes and relate these to job requirements. Call on your network of veterans to assist in finding work, attend job fairs to see what is available and speak to representatives there, and inform yourself about interview tactics.

A clear understanding of who you are, what you can do and enjoy together with specificity is needed to land the work you can excel at. If you feel that further training is needed, check ‘trade schools near me’ to find out what additional skills you can add to your C.V. that are scarce in the job market.

Learn skill translation

Your military background is probably incredibly precise in terms of following orders and ‘getting the job done,’ but this type of foundation needs to be adjusted to suit the labor market. What did it take to get the job done? Precision, attention to detail, discipline, teamwork, project management? 

Language use is important when translating military skills to the private labor market, and then making adjustments to transfer those skills in practice to the job that you want.

To aid your transition, search for local internships and apprenticeships to learn a new trade. Put yourself out there for volunteer work to learn a more ‘land-based’ civilian skill. 

How you fit into the labor market will be important to the hiring manager, so help them understand where and how you can add value to their organization. Flexibility is important, but so is reliability, so ensure the hiring manager appreciates that you are capable of both.

Dispel the typical military stereotypes

The stereotype of the soldier created in Hollywood can be a barrier to finding work. As the job applicant, you will need to dispel the myths surrounding being a soldier in the U.S. military. Inform your interviewer of some of the realities of being a soldier. 

You’re a normal person who received specialized training. Beyond that, you have family members and were once a civilian yourself. You know that civilian life requires flexibility, and you are capable of integrating back into the world that you came from.  

Volunteer this information upfront so the remainder of the interview can move forward on a productive note.

Programs are available from learning institutes to upskill yourself and bridge the gap in preparation for the civilian labor market. Tech upskilling, marketing, IT-related training, accounts management and sales training are available to improve civilian skills. 

Personal coaching helps to overcome the transfer of military speak into civilian language, and inform potential employers of the reality of military life to break down stereotypes. With the right help, veterans can lead a fulfilling career in the private sector.

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