I grew up in a smaller area in the northeast part of the country and prior to joining the military, ‘diversity’ was not something I experienced often.
If you had asked me what diversity meant, I would say things like socioeconomic factors, home life structure or if you played Little League baseball rather than Pop-Warner football.
But once I joined the military, I quickly got the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life.
It wasn’t until a moment early on in my military career that I learned the lesson of inclusion. I was working, most likely cleaning, polishing, folding and not really paying attention to the conversations around me, but I did hear a slur used. The slur wasn’t used towards a person but said in the context of their conversation. Our instructor, Staff Sgt. Boyd*, was paying attention and, after having a harsh one-on-one with the individual, she sat all of us down to have one of the most defining moments in my diversity, equity and inclusion journey.
Staff Sgt. Boyd wanted us to understand this key fundamental: we are all individuals with many unique qualities who are all part of the same group; we are all green. I took Staff Sgt. Boyd’s words to heart because I love the idea that while I have my individual characteristics, I am part of something bigger.
We need to recognize that we are not all the same, that wem are individuals made up of many different parts and identifiers. It is our individuality, our inherit diversity, that makes us stronger as a group; as a unified organization working together to be the best we can be. Every chance we get to celebrate our uniqueness, we should seize that opportunity and include our group, our organizations, our family, friends and acquaintances to join in.
There is room for improvement in all things but it is our individual and group contributions to inclusion that help us grow and get better. I love telling my children stories and reminiscing about friends I had in the service. The opportunity to share my lessons from the military, the importance of true friendship and knowing how valuable it is to have people you can count on to have your back no matter your history is something that I cherish.
Together, we are a part of something bigger and have the chance to make lasting change in our world.
Steve Willison is the human resources leader for North American operations at ON Semiconductor. Steve serves as the co-chair the company’s Veteran and military employee resource group. ON Semiconductor is a designated Military Friendly Employer and in 2020 became a partner with the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge program that assist military members gain civilian work experience through industry training, apprenticeships or internships during the last 180 days of service. SkillBridge connects service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences.
If you are interested in hearing more about this program or job opportunities at ON Semiconductor please visit onsemi.com/careers.
Operation Jump Start is being hosted by the United Service Organizations (USO), supported by the Brian Hamilton Foundation, on September 29 and 30 to bring together military service members and their families to help them prepare for the transition to civilian life following their service to the nation. All active duty, National Guard members, and their families can attend for free by registering here.
As part of this virtual event, active duty service members, National Guard members, and their families are invited to join entrepreneurs, franchise operators, and veterans who have successfully started businesses of their own to learn strategies that will empower them to lay the foundation for a successful next stage in their careers. Interested members of the public are welcome to attend as well.
The two-day event will consist of entrepreneurial showcases, networking forums, and exhibitions from world-renowned companies including Amazon and Biogen, as well as inspiring fireside chats and keynote speeches from athletes and famous entrepreneurs, such as:
Justin Kutcher (FOX Sports Announcer): Master of Ceremonies for Operation Jump Start
Brian Hamilton(Entrepreneur, TV Star and Philanthropist): Why Entrepreneurship Now
Julianne Hough(CEO and Founder of KINRGY, Actress, and Dancer): Energetic Health: The New Wave of Successful Entrepreneurship
Hill Harper (Humanitarian, Actor, Best-Selling Author, and Entrepreneur)
Jessica Iclisoy (CEO & Founder of California Baby®): How One Mom’s Passion Built a Thriving Business
Will Ahmed(Founder and CEO at WHOOP™): Unlock Your Performance
Registration information, sponsorship opportunities, and additional details are available at uso.org/jumpstart.
“Operation Jump Start will help provide our military and their families with the foundation they need to pursue their professional goals,” said Jim Whaley, Regional President, USO Southeast. “Our Armed Forces sacrifice so much to protect our country, and we are proud to be by their side throughout their service to the nation, including as they look to return to the civilian workforce and give back to their communities.”
“Service members are naturally inclined to become entrepreneurs. Starting a business entails significant risks and service members have proven their willingness to take risks over and over again,” stated Brian Hamilton, founder of the Brian Hamilton Foundation. “Given all they’ve sacrificed for this country, we are proud to support them in their transition from the military through this Summit and beyond.”
Each year, an estimated 200,000-plus service members transition from the military to civilian life, and more than 650,000 military spouses are constantly transitioning. The USO is dedicated to helping them every step of the way through additional professional development offerings including but not limited to:
USO Mentorship Platform: This resource helps connect transitioning service members and military spouses with professionals in their industry of interest and help them navigate meaningful career paths in a rapidly changing world.
Pathfinder® Transition Program: USO Transition Specialists work with service members to create an individualized plan focusing on employment, education, financial readiness, mentorship, and increased access to relevant veterans’ benefits in their communities.
Follow the USO on Facebook, Twitter,andInstagram for updates and join the conversation using #BetheForce, and #MoreThanThanks on social media.
About the USO: The USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home, and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, we are united in our commitment to connect our service members and their families through countless acts of caring, comfort, and support. The USO is a private nonprofit organization, not a government agency. Our programs, services and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, the support of our corporate partners, and the dedication of our volunteers and staff. To join us in this important mission and learn more about the USO, please visit USO.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About the Brian Hamilton Foundation:
The Brian Hamilton Foundation’s mission is to open the door to entrepreneurship for all Americans by sharing with them the resources necessary to start, run and grow successful businesses. By doing so, the organization works to remove the socioeconomic barriers to freedom and self-determination. To learn more, visithttps://brianhamilton.org. or follow BrianHamilton’s work onTwitter, Facebookand Instagramat @brianhamiltonNC.
Job searches can be overwhelming and sometimes it is difficult to know exactly where to start. Resume Worded has put together a step-by-step checklist to help you stay organized and task-oriented.
Here are the things you’ll need to think about when job searching:
These introductory documents are what help you get an interview. A strong resume/CV gets past initial filters/screens and makes a strong impression on hiring managers. Make sure you understand what type of document (resume, academic CV, federal resume) to use for the job you are applying to. Create impact on your document through strong content and a clean, easy to skim format. Lastly, always have another set of eyes look at this document to help you edit for errors.
Your Online Presence When you are job searching, you should assume people are looking you up online. It might be a good idea to make all of your personal Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, SnapChat accounts private. One account that should have a public present though is LinkedIn. Take some time to update it and optimize it with keywords for your intended career path/sector.
Finding a Job Online
Cast a wide net when searching for jobs online. General websites like Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor can be helpful; however, you will also want to utilize niche job boards related to your field. Science Careers and Nature Careers often have relevant job postings. You might also want to check some professional associations connected to you field.
Applying for A Job Online
Your resume/CV and cover letter are your first introduction with an online application, so they need to be near perfect. Make sure you focus on quality not quantity and tailor each document for the relevant posting.
Getting an Introduction/Referral
A huge part of job searching is networking. Don’t hesitate to be in touch with your contacts and ask for resume referrals when appropriate. Informational interviews are a great way to learn more about a career path and a company, so start reaching out now and having these conversations. People who actively network tend to shave time off their total job search, so in the end it does pay off!
The key to interviewing well is in the preparation. Learn about the employer and your interviewers. Know what type of interview you might anticipate. Then, practice as much as you can! Rehearse or write out your answers to typical interview questions. Think about interview questions you have struggled with in the past. And last, but not least make sure you have prepared thoughtful questions for each interviewer.
Source: NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education
By Rob Mortensen, Senior Manager, North American MEGAYSYS Operations at EMD Electronics
The MEGASYS organization at EMD Electronics provides a unique service, as our employees actually work onsite in our customers’ facilities to maintain our delivery systems equipment and safely handle our materials (chemicals and gases) throughout the stages of manufacturing semiconductors.
I recently sat down with Walter Marrable, a Chemical Operations Supervisor on our MEGASYS team in Austin, TX, to learn about how the skills he acquired in the U.S. military translate to his role in our organization.
Marrable served in the United States Navy for six years as a nuclear-trained machinist. “I was responsible for supervising an engine room that directly controlled the maneuverability of aircraft carriers and power generation. Managing the engine room included conducting regular maintenance and repairs. When I left the military, I had over 1000 hours of applied experience in maintenance work.”
Marrable said that what drew him to apply for a position in MEGASYS directly after leaving the military was the technical aspect of the role. He was interested in semiconductor technology and had long-admired our customers and wanted to be a part of the industry. Drawing parallels from his work in the engine room to the fab; he shared that moving materials and regulating pressure temperatures were very similar.
“You still have (material) levels and equipment that operate in a specific way. You need to understand the ins and outs of those systems and why components are designed the way they are, and where they are located and processed. All of that definitely translated over into working in MEGASYS,” Marrable shares. “Once you understand the technical pieces of equipment, it’s easier to learn additional types of equipment in the fab.”
In speaking to Marrable, it’s quite apparent that he brings a high level of discipline to his position and makes safety and quality a priority in his work.
“In the military, just like in here at MEGASYS, we have a chain of command. As a supervisor, I am responsible for developing the team and adhering to strict protocols, procedures. There’s more PPE here at our customer site for good reason, and safety is a top priority,” he says. “Onboarding new team members and continuing education for our tenured employees related to our protocols are essential. Safety is everyone’s job, just like in the military. We can’t ignore potential hazards. We have to know how to take action,” Marrable concludes.
At EMD Electronics, we are committed to hiring U.S. veterans. Marrable’s advice for anyone leaving the military who may be interested in working for us was pretty straightforward. “Like any career, you’re going to get out what you put into it. There’s a lot to learn, and there’s so many opportunities,” he says. “From a technical side of things, MEGASYS is a phenomenal place to be. We have so much exposure to the manufacturing process and working with technical equipment. Not to mention building relationships with the customer and understanding their needs.
“MEGASYS has a variety of work. Whether you decide to pursue operations like me or work on the maintenance team, you have options to expand your skills. You also have the opportunity to explore different shifts and decide which kind works best for you. The operations team works a rotating shift—three on/three off, four on/four off in 12-hour shifts. If you are on the maintenance team, you’ll work Monday to Friday, 9-5. So, if you’re somebody who doesn’t like shift work, apply for the maintenance team,” he suggests.
Marrable noted that opportunities to grow are similar in MEGASYS too. “There’s definitely a runway ahead. Leaders work with you to guide you in the right direction to advance your career. There’s a lot of hands-on learning to build your skill set.”
If you’d like to learn more about joining our team, and working with great people like Marrable, visit our website at emdgroup.com/careers.
It would be an understatement to say that the process of separating from the military is daunting, a fact that every veteran who has gone through it can probably attest to. After spending years of my life as an active-duty member in the U.S. Coast Guard, within a regimented system with a strict set of guidelines, the concept of working as a civilian was difficult to wrap my head around.
I believe every veteran is responsible for finding their own way through the separation process, because the Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) course isn’t sufficient without individual effort. But many veterans struggle when it comes time to find a job, and it would be valuable for employers to understand more about where we are coming from as well as how to appeal to – and accommodate for – veterans during the hiring process.
In many ways, the recruitment and hiring process for veterans is no different than it would be for anyone else. But there are some differences and sensitivities that employers should keep in mind.
Here are my top three tips for employers looking to hire veterans and how to integrate this valuable talent pool into their workforce:
1) Be military friendly and promote accordingly
For employers interested in hiring veterans, the first step is to build your brand towards being an organization that is military and veteran-friendly, such as by including a line in each job posting highlighting that fact. It may also be useful to include the names of the branches to attract veteran applicants, in the listings themselves as well as any social media accounts. A great tool to include would be common hashtags that service members and veterans follow and use themselves. To really align this intention with action, research the most common certifications soldiers acquire and the duties they perform during their career or, even better, consult with a service member or veteran to overcome a massive hurdle in veteran job searches: translating a veteran’s resume.
Communicating the value of their skills and qualifications in a way that matches up with a job posting is more difficult for veterans–especially since the vast majority of hiring managers are civilians. The military relies heavily on acronyms, so the resumes of most veterans are full of them and to the average civilian, many of these acronyms are foreign; this is one of the biggest barriers to veteran hiring. Having someone “in the know” can help clarify how these certifications and duties translate into a particular position or industry is invaluable. Making this extra effort will not only ensure highly qualified candidates are not being filtered out based on a misunderstanding, it will also show a company’s commitment to being military-friendly is more than just marketing.
2) Highlight benefits that appeal to veterans
When veterans separate from the military, they take with them a slew of lifetime benefits: health insurance, education assistance, disability compensation, eligibility for a VA mortgage loan and many, many more. That being said, veterans will be looking for more than just a good health plan and vacation time to make a benefits package appealing. A few of the benefits I’ve found particularly valuable following my transition are health insurance for family members/dependents, dental and vision insurance, and a 401K plan to save for retirement. Despite free and excellent healthcare for veterans, our benefits don’t include health insurance for family members/dependents, dental or vision care.
Another benefit veterans may look for from a future employer is the opportunity to use allocated time off to volunteer. After serving in the military and spending the majority of their career helping others, veterans are more likely to work at companies that allow them to continue to give back to the community. Advertising these benefits, as well as any coordination with nonprofits, charities or other donation-matching programs, is likely to pique the interest of veterans and encourage them to apply.
3) Banish stigmas and stereotypes
Despite the modern world we live in, veterans are still contending with outdated stereotypes and assumptions about who they are and what they want, especially in the professional world. There is a standard misconception of veterans as old, disabled and uninterested in integrating into American society, but these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are, of course, veterans of all ages, many veterans entered the military at 18 or 19, chose to serve for 4 years and are now in their 20s. I personally have a hard time thinking of myself as a veteran, in part because of the stigmas and stereotypes that do not reflect who I am or my experience.
Most of the concerns employers have with regards to veterans can be overcome by education and collaboration. Some veterans come home with PTSD or other psychological conditions, but many civilians struggle with similar issues, as nearly one in five Americans live with a mental illness. Companies looking to hire veterans should focus on what they bring to the table – a strong work ethic and valuable experiences from their time in the military – and less on outdated and misguided assumptions about who veterans are and how they will behave.
Just as in any venture, changing the employment process for veterans isn’t one-sided. Employers who want to incorporate veterans into their workforce should adjust their hiring practices, but veterans are also responsible for committing their time and effort to finding the position and company that are the best fit for their many transferable skills. As our society grows to become even more inclusive, employers can utilize these tips to ensure that the workplaces of the future are welcoming for everyone, veterans included.
Nicole Paquette is the Team Captain of Military Enrollment at MedCerts and a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Just as military veterans have sacrificed so much in service to our country, so too have their spouses. The Navy and Marine Corps recognize the invaluable contribution of military spouses and welcome their talents and strengths in our civilian workforce.
In the Department of the Navy — and throughout the Federal Government — military spouses have greater opportunities than ever before to be hired as members of the civilian workforce.
In 2009, the President signed an Executive Order that provides a non-competitive appointment authority for hiring certain qualified military spouses, spouses of disabled veterans and un-remarried widows/widowers of veterans.
Spouses of Active-Duty Military When Accompanying on a Change of Duty Status
Spouses accompanying their military sponsor on a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move who meet all the following conditions:
The sponsor must be serving on active duty for more than 180 consecutive days, must have been issued an order for a PCS and must be authorized for dependent travel as part of the PCS orders.
The spouse must have been married to the sponsor on or prior to the date of the service member’s orders authorizing the PCS.
The spouse does not have to relocate to the new duty station in order to apply for non-competitive appointments.
Spouses who wish to exercise military spouse preference must relocate with the service member.
The position must be in the local commuting area of the sponsor’s new duty station.
Military spouses are eligible for Navy and Marine Corps civilian employment opportunities in two ways:
Non-competitive Appointments (E.O. 13473)
To apply for jobs, search for job opportunities in the Department of the Navy at don.usajobs.gov and apply directly to any position for which you meet all the qualification requirements. When applying, select Military Spouse under Executive Order 13473 on the eligibility questionnaire. See also “How to Apply” Tab at the top of the page for Applicant Toolkit information and resources.
Military Spouse Preference (MSP)
To exercise your military spouse preference, search for job opportunities in the Department of the Navy at don.usajobs.gov and apply directly to any position for which you meet all the qualification requirements. When applying, select Military Spouse Preference on the eligibility questionnaire. You will be asked to provide documentation that supports your status as military spouse preference eligible.
Spouses of Retired, Released or Discharged Veterans
There are two eligibility categories of spouses covered:
Spouses of retired active-duty military with a service-connected disability of 100 percent, as documented by a branch of the armed services.
Spouses of active-duty members released or discharged from active duty in the armed forces and have a disability rating of 100 percent, as documented by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Spouses who meet either category above can apply to any position for which they meet all the qualification requirements.
This eligibility category is for unmarried widows/widowers whose spouses died while serving on active duty in the armed forces. It is not necessary that the active-duty member was killed in combat. The death may have been the result of enemy attack, accident, disease or natural causes.
Unmarried widows/widowers can apply to any position “Open to U.S. Citizen” for which they meet all the qualification requirements.
Mothers of Disabled or Deceased Veterans
This eligibility is for mothers who meet one of the below categories:
Mothers of disabled veterans are eligible if your son or daughter was separated with an honorable or general discharge from active duty, including training service in the Reserves or National Guard AND is permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected injury or illness.
Mothers of deceased veterans are eligible when your son or daughter died under honorable conditions while on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized.
Mothers can apply to any “Open to U.S. Citizen” position for which they meet all the qualification requirements.
Documentation might include:
Proof of marriage to the service member;
A copy of PCS orders authorizing the spouse to accompany the service member to a new duty location;
Proof the service member was released or discharged due to a 100 percent disability;
Proof of the service member’s death while on active duty.
Hunting for a post-military job can sometimes feel like a roller coaster. There are some definite highs in the job search, like spotting the perfect position for you, landing an interview and receiving an offer.
But unfortunately, there are also some lows mixed in – including the dreaded rejection letter.
While it may be disappointing, getting a rejection letter can actually help you in your job search. It offers you an opportunity to learn from the process and improve upon certain areas for the next dream job that crosses your path.
But, while you’re looking for that next opportunity, how can you stay motivated for the next search? While everyone will have their own process, here are our four strategies for rebounding from a rejection letter:
Take a minute. There’s no denying it – rejection stings. It’s true in life, love and even work. Before you dive back into the job hunt, take some time to process your disappointment. Talk with friends or fellow service members, go for a walk, meditate, eat a whole bag of chips (okay, maybe not that last one). You might even need more than a minute. It’s okay to take a breather from your job hunt. Though it can be hard to step back when you’re facing the end of your military career, a pause may be the key to landing your first post-military job.
Keep perspective. Remember, there’s only so much you can control in a job search. Maybe you were a great candidate, but there was only one open position and a lot of great applicants. “Maintain healthy expectations about the process and don’t lose hope,” said James Marfield, associate director of VA’s National Recruitment Service. “It is not necessarily an indictment on your candidacy – it may just be that the hiring manager had better qualified candidates to choose from.” While it may look from the outside like some people have it easy and catch all the breaks, everyone gets a rejection letter at some point in their career. Transitioning to a post-military career can be an especially big leap, but there are plenty of people who have successfully made the transition. Have faith that you will, too.
Look in the rear view mirror. You got as far as an interview, so you know you’re doing a lot of things right. If you’re applying for a federal job like one at VA, you made it through the recruiter and were referred to the hiring manager, which is a big step. Your resume and cover letter are on point, and you’ve completed all the right federal forms to accompany your application. Before you dive back in to your job hunt, take some time to review your interview performance and see if there’s anything you could improve. Do you need to come up with better examples for VA’s performance-based interview format, or did you remember to send a thank you letter after your interview? Each interview is great preparation for the next one, but if you want even more practice, ask a friend or family member to rehearse with you.
Move forward. Once the feeling of rejection starts to fade and you’re feeling positive again, jump back in to your search with renewed energy and enthusiasm. As you continue to apply, look for ways you can continue to add to your skills and improve your candidacy for a civilian career, whether that’s through volunteering, additional training or part-time work experiences. Veterans can take advantage of a free year of LinkedIn premium, which includes access to training through LinkedIn Learning. The Department of Defense also offers transition assistance for Veterans, including training, apprenticeships and internships through SkillBridge.
No roller coaster lasts forever – even the job search coaster. While there may be more than one “no” along the way, all you need is one “yes” to land your dream post-military job.
According to the 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the number of veterans without homes had already increased in 2020 prior to the damaging effects of the coronavirus.
Furthermore, the Department of Veterans Affairs Administration (VA) reported the rate of veteran suicide continues increasing every year, currently about 20 suicides per day.
Bridging the disconnect between veterans and the benefits and resources available to them is vital. Walking with them through that transition as a means of reducing veteran homelessness and suicide is key to the innovative mobile app and nonprofit service started by Major (R) Eric K. King, who understands personally what it can feel like to make that journey alone.
“After being medically retired from the military, due to injuries sustained from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), I noticed that there were not many programs or advocates in the space between transitioning military service and being introduced to all the benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs,” shared King, VetsWhatsNext Founder (pictured).
VetsWhatsNext Nonprofit Corporation is an empowerment organization committed to building a bridge between the needs of servicemembers under the Department of Defense (DOD) and the opportunities and resources for veterans under the VA. “I personally could not sit and allow this to happen to another service member. VetsWhatsNext was born out of need and a sincere duty to continue serving my fellow teammates after my time was officially done,” said King.
The organization has created an innovative mobile app to assist active-duty servicemembers, veterans and their family members transition into civilian life after the military by offering access to resources, training and further education, if needed. They also have donor drives, host virtual and in-person walk/marathons and established a $2,000 Higher Education Scholarship Foundation that will award dependents of a disabled veteran with a permanent and total service-connected disability 10% or higher rating evaluation from the VA.
“People don’t commit suicide because they’re sad. They commit suicide because it’s their best option,” said Vice President of VetsWhatsNext, Army Lieutenant Colonel Michael Sturdivant. “If they transition the right way, we give them better options; we can put all the resources in their hands.”
With their mobile app, VetsWhatsNext is literally putting resources in the hands of those who need them most. The program can start, for someone on active duty, as early as two years before retirement. Once downloaded, the free app (available on both Google Play and the Apple App Store) will walk through the steps and perform multiple functions from emailing one’s commanding officer (CO) of their intentions to listing materials they should gather in preparation for working with the VA once their service is complete. The app also prompts servicemembers to begin working on their VA disability claims, helping them schedule the necessary doctor’s appointments and needed paperwork.
According to Sturdivant, “The current mobile application is informative. The evolution is that, ideally, the app opens (with gamification) asking if you’re prepared to retire or transition. It then asks when to build your calendar and asks if you wish to inform your chain of command. The next step is asking you what track you’d like to pursue: entrepreneurial, career transition or skill-building. If you want to take a year, two years or less the app finds and formats your calendar to make sure your training is covered.” All of the classes and services are accessible via the app or website with Program Managers available to handle the courses and support to meet every servicemember, veteran or family member’s needs.
There is a chat function as well, so that, whether active duty, a veteran or a family member, the user feels supported 100 percent through the transition.
The two-year program through the app includes training to help veterans be competitive with their civilian counterparts, and the organization is communicating with the DOD and VA as well as Fortune 500 companies to create an internship. “As you’re doing your first of the two years, we’re also searching for the right corporate partner for you to work with and intern with, and so the focus is your last 180 days,” shared Sturdivant. “You’re certified and trained; you’ve already done all your VA stuff, and now you can just focus on being in partnership in the internship with the potential company that’s going to hire you.”
The program seeks to fill the gaps that are currently in the system by filling the gaps that appear when a servicemember seeks to retire as the VA will not work with active-duty members just as the DOD will not work with veterans in need of assistance. “By law, they can’t. You’re either in the military, or you’re not,” said Sturdivant. “I can’t reach out to the VA and ask them anything about retirement, and they can’t talk to me about it. But as a nonprofit [we] can talk to whomever [we] want.”
So, in the words of the VetsWhatsNext founder, “It is time that our veterans regain the hope and trust they have lost in the transition process. VWN is here to provide our veterans a product, services and resources that will reduce the number of suicides of our veterans each day. We are all things veterans; there is Life. After. Military.”
Think deeply about what you want to do before you separate, and have a well thought out plan on what you want to do. Do your research! Make a clear plan for what you want to do, and be clear about the steps you will need to complete it. This tip is number one for a reason, because it is truly the most important.
Plan as early as possible before your separation date on what you want to do once you make your transition back to civilian life. This may be attending a higher education institution, trade school or corporate education program. Planning as early as possible allows you to you meet application deadlines, financial aid/Post 9-11 G.I Bill submission due dates and any other necessary paperwork due dates. Also, planning early allows you the headspace to handle any unexpected hindrances that may arise.
Pay attention and take notes in your TAP (Transition Assistance Program).
Your TAP briefing has a wide range of information that is helpful in transitioning back to civilian life, so pay attention. It will cover veteran benefits, education assistance benefits, medical benefits, financial planning, health benefits, VA home loans and creating a transition plan. Knowing the ins and outs of these programs can aid you immensely once you’re out. Remember, you won’t be able to just pick up and drive back on base to get your questions answered. So, make sure you ask what you need and get answers before your date of separation.
Translate your skills into civilian rhetoric.
Many civilian hiring managers/HR departments do not understand the distinctive terminology used in the military. Help them out and take the time to update and revise your resume to make it easy for them to navigate. Identify and translate your valuable military skills to what employers are hungry to see in their potential employees. Don’t be afraid to consult online resources or hire a professional resume writer to update your resume. It’s a cheap and justifiable expense if it gets you in the door of the company you desire.
Save as much leave and money as possible before you separate.
Not a typical career tip, but quite an important one. Accumulating as much leave and money as possible helps you to ease the transition back into civilian life. Having some leave saved up before your separation date allows you to depart your home base early before your separation date. The same goes for your money situation. Having a nice cash cushion allows you to prepare for a number of months where you may not have any income coming in before you start a new job, begin university or training. In addition to paying for necessary expenses, it also protects you from any emergency situations that may arise during this possible financial lull. Doing this will also provide you with money for expenses associated with your new civilian career such as clothing (no more paid for uniforms for work), in addition to expenses accrued from moving to a new place.
Relax, decompress and mentally prepare for your transition from military to civilian life.
You have served your country valiantly, now it’s time to take a breather and prepare to return to civilian life. Military service requires a lot of you both mentally and physically. Civilian life is vastly different. Knowing in advance there may be some disorientation in the beginning can help you prepare for the transition. Entering your new job relaxed and decompressed allows you to integrate easier with your co-workers, managers and new team.
Always keep your resume up to date. Whenever you learn a new skill, software/app, procedure or win an award—update your resume. Doing this guarantees two things. First, that you can easily apply for any new jobs that may come up without having to fumble and recall all the projects and accomplishments you’ve had in your current position. Second, that you will always be aware of any short-comings or deficiencies that are relevant to your position that you may need to brush up on. Both of these updates and status checks will keep you aware of the latest skills and qualities needed to remain competitive in your career.
There will be times in your civilian career where you will be required to go above and beyond. Fortunately, you’re well adept to such working conditions. These situations may include, but are not limited to: working late consecutive nights, picking up extra duties, arriving early after working late and scrambling to get a project done because of an accelerated timeline. Because of the military, you’re uniquely adept to handling these tasks. Your ability to multitask and do so while not succumbing to the pressure makes you a tremendous asset to your team and company. While in your position, make it a point to always ask others if you can help and learn their jobs.
Keep your military hours.
Do you remember the saying? “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. And if you’re late, you’re fired.” Keeping up your previous “military hours” will be helpful in staying efficient and successful in your civilian career. If you get to work early, you have the opportunity to sit down calmly and come up with an agenda to see you through your entire day. This is opposed to getting to work right at your start time and sifting through emails and tasks you need to complete as you see them, like a game of Whack-A-Mole.
Keep up with training and certifications just like you did in the military, even if it’s not required of you.
Staying up-to-date on certifications, new techniques, software and information pertinent to your job and responsibilities was a required cornerstone of your military responsibilities. You should continue that level of training frequency. Doing so will keep you sharp and knowledgeable while simultaneously keeping you ahead of your career peers.
Build out your network.
Your network can be comprised of job seeker groups, pro-military companies, job fair groups and even friends. Many companies have devoted applicant sections strictly for veterans. Once you’re added to these lists, you’ll receive emails about positions specially geared to veterans. You can also add yourself to veteran groups within LinkedIn and if you attended college, utilizing your alumni network is another great way to round up leads.
Depending on where you are (pre-separation or in career), these tips can help you carve out a good path to your new civilian career or help you get to that next level within the one you already have.
Ian Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Chicago, Ill., and writes regularly on education, personal finance, lifestyle and a variety of other subjects. He is a United States Air Force veteran who graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in Journalism in 2013. In his free time, he enjoys nature, art and is a major film buff.
Military spouses often make personal sacrifices in support of their service members. But an outdated presumption persists that spousal support and personal pursuits are mutually exclusive concepts. So, what’s the secret weapon for making your own dreams come true, too? A five-year plan can do the trick!
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” A five-year plan allows you to think strategically about your long-term goals and map out the steps that you need to take along the way. Planning helps you sharpen your focus so that executing the process is a breeze – even when you’re on the move.
Seeing the steps to reach your dreams on paper can make it all feel more possible. If you have a plan already, dust it off and update it!
How To Make a Five-Year Plan:
Identify your big dreams and goals.
Research how to make them happen.
Break them down into little steps.
Tackle one item at a time.
Start by brainstorming. Here are three personal development categories to get you started on your five-year plan:
Have you ever been blindsided by an interviewer asking you about your goals for the next few years? Although it’s a pretty common interview question, it can catch you off guard if you haven’t given it some thought. If you have your five-year plan in mind, you’ll be ready to share your ambitions with potential employers. Plus, this can open you up to new opportunities down the road.
In an interview recently, I was asked about my five-year plan. I shared that I was working on a particular certification and hoped that, in five years, I would have enough experience logged to upgrade my certification to a higher level. I was hired for the original position, but I was also offered a second title and the opportunity to gain experience in that field. Dream big and speak up about what you’re willing to work for!
To map out your career goals, consider the professional path of a peer you admire or research what qualifications are necessary for your dream job.
Education, Training and Licensing
Education can be especially daunting because there are so many avenues to take, but it is one of the best ways to set yourself up to accomplish your dreams. Start by figuring out what subject you’d like to pursue. Then investigate what schools offer flexible learning options so that your plan stays on track no matter where you move. You can also consider licenses or certifications that could make you a more competitive candidate for your dream job.
Want help figuring out what education plan works best with your five-year plan? Check out SECO (Military Spouse Education & Career Opportunities). You can take assessments to identify your strengths, learn more about scholarships and research how schooling fits in with the career that you want. Plus, you can check what education plans lead to careers that move with you.
Health, Wellness and Relationships
It’s no secret that the military lifestyle can be stressful. A five-year plan should include less-tangible goals, too. The philosopher Marcus Aurelius once said, “Life is not merely being alive, but being well.” Your health, wellness and relationships are just as important as any other item in your five-year plan.
Do you want to build more relationships with people in your community? Strengthen your marriage? Adopt a child? Pay off debt? Become a stronger runner? Reach a free health and wellness coach or a personal finance counselor to get started.
Finally, it’s important to remember your big goals but approach those in digestible steps. Prioritize your personal goals and stay resilient with a plan that works with you and the many uncertainties of military life. As they say, making small steps in the right direction can turn out to be the biggest step of your life.
You may have heard that employers are interested in hiring people with good “soft skills.” But what exactly are good soft skills?
Soft skills are sometimes called people skills, or work-readiness skills. They are your personality, attitudes and manners. They can also include how you present yourself. So, the way you talk, the way you listen, the way you make eye contact and even the way you dress are part of your soft skills.
Employers look for soft skills to decide how someone may do at a job. This is important to employers when they hire. Soft skills are often the reason employers decide whether to keep or promote workers.
In fact, one of the best ways to demonstrate your soft skills occurs before you even have the job. During the interview process, employers are not only looking for your technical and educational background, but at the way you communicate. Conversation engagement, active listening and the ability to answer questions carefully and quickly are all traits that carryover no matter what line of work you are applying for.
Typical Soft Skills
Some soft skills can be taught in school. But most you learn in everyday life and can improve at any time. Here are some examples:
The ability to adapt to new situations or changes in plans swiftly and with ease
Friendliness and respectfulness, regardless of the situation
Follows instructions and asks questions, in order to get the job done correctly
The ability to work with varying personalities to accomplish a task
Responsibility, even when you make mistakes
Accepting to criticism
Practicing Your Soft Skills
As mentioned previously, soft skills are often learned from the daily interactions we have with others, whether it’s in a work setting or not. You might have these skills and not even realize they can help an employer or you might struggle with them. If so, it’s always a good idea to practice soft skills.
Here are some ways you can practice your soft skills today:
Role play with a friend or family member. Pretending you are in a certain situation with an employer or a customer can help prepare you for the proper response when the time comes.
Practice eye contact and active listening. Whether you are buying lunch, going to the grocery store or catching up with your neighbor, there are many opportunities to engage with other people every day. Concentrate on staying engaged in these short conversations as practice; it will make these skills stronger for the workforce.
Ask for feedback on your soft skills. Talking to trusted individuals such as family, friends or a counselor to give your insight to your communication can help you to gauge what you need to work on and what you excel at.
No matter where your career journey takes you or what obstacles you will encounter on the way, strengthening your soft skills will always increase your chances of landing your dream job.