Empowering Career Advice for Veterans:
Transitioning from Military to Civilian Employment

Your Mission

Learn how to use various tools and resources to help empower your successful transition from military to civilian employment.

Three Learning Outcomes

  1. Finding Your Career Passion -- by discovering your interests, personality type, skills, & strengths you will better know how to find your civilian career path.

  2. GI Bill -- what is it? The four active programs and types of training covered that can assist you in the training and education you need for your new career path.

  3. Resume Writing, Job Interviewing, & Job Searching -- dos and don'ts, current trends, writing tips, social media, what to wear, what to say & not say to assist you in landing a job in your new career path.

Step 1: Finding Your Career Passion via Self-Assessments

Take one assessment in each category below to gain a complete picture of who you are and the skills/strengths you have.

  • Personality & Type Indicators: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: identification of basic preferences, 16 personality types. Keirsey Temperament Sorter: one of four temperaments (long-term patterns of behavior). The Big Five Personality Test: 5 fundamental dimensions of personality: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism

  • Interest Inventories: Self-Directed Search: most widely used, good overview of interests & skills. Strong Interest Inventory: identifies interests and how they relate to various occupations and careers

  • Skills and Strengths Inventories: StrengthsFinder: measures 34 different personal strengths/themes, & dominant themes affect behavior & work performance. Campbell Interest & Skill Survey: vocational interests & skills inventory that guides toward specific occupational area

  • Career Transition Assessments: MCTI - Military to Career Transition Inventory: helps recent veterans make successful career transition; features 6 scales that cover transition management, veteran's benefits, career transition skills, job search basics, resumes & cover letters, and interviewing & negotiation

Ask Yourself These Questions:
Take 5 minutes to write your answers to the following questions as a way to get started on self-exploration.

  • What are your favorite activities/hobbies?

  • What are your dream jobs and careers?

  • In what areas are you already seen as an expert?

  • What are your deep-seated values and beliefs?

  • What is your life's calling/passion?

Step 1 Goal: Combine the results from these two elements to develop a clearer picture of your future civilian career.

Step 2: What the GI Bill Can Do For You
  • What is the GI Bill? It was designed to help eligible veterans cover the costs associated with getting an education or training

  • 4 Programs: Post-9/11, Active Duty Montgomery, Reserve and Guard Montgomery, Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program. Choose the program for which you are eligible.

  • Types of Training Covered: college degree programs, vocational/technical training, on-the-job/apprenticeship training, licensing & certification reimbursement, national testing programs such as SAT, CLEP, etc., flight training, correspondence training, work study programs, tuition supplementation, tutorial assistance.

Step 2 Goal: Understand what educational resources are available to you to help pursue your civilian career.

Step 3: Resume Writing, Job Searching, & Job Interviewing

Resume Writing:

  • Research military-to-civilian sample resumes

  • Use a professional-sounding email address

  • Avoid military jargon in resumes (acronyms are confusing)

  • Focus on your accomplishments

  • Don't include personal details

  • Create a LinkedIn profile

  • Emphasize soft skills along with technical skills (personality matters)

  • Be concise (no longer than 2 pages, avoid long-winded sentences)

Job Search:

  • Don't post anything self-denigrating on Facebook. You don't want employers to see provocative photos, posts riddled with expletives, posts involving drinking/drug use, bad-mouthing another employer or coworker, racist/sexist/anti-religious comments.

  • Keep expectations realistic. You may not enter civilian workforce at same level as you were in military.

  • Use a military skills translator to help identify civilian jobs similar to your military occupation.

  • Seek guidance from a career counselor.

Job Interviewing:

  • Learn the important interview components: personality, motivation, technical abilities, competency, education & references.

  • Get fitted for a suit! Don't wear outdated, ill-fitting clothing to an interview.

  • Quantify and qualify military terms so the interviewer understands your credentials.

  • Have answers ready for commonly-asked questions such as: Why should I hire you? Tell me about yourself. What is your leadership/management style? What do you know about this company? What are your weaknesses? What are your top skills? Tell me about a time of conflict and how you resolved it.

Step 3 Goal: Know the keys to success in developing a civilian resume, understanding the civilian job-search process, and in succeeding in job interviews.

Veteran Career Transitioning Resources

Jenny Parker Hansen is an empowering counselor, problem-solver, organizer, and service provider, as well as a partner on EmpoweringAdvice.com. She is currently working on her master's degree in mental health counseling at Antioch University New England, with plans to provide services to veterans and their families, as well as others requiring assistance in dealing with mental health challenges. She has a long history of providing excellent customer-service, team-building, and conflict resolution. Besides working in both the public and private sectors, she also started and ran her own business. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in all her endeavors, and has a deep desire to help and empower others who are seeking help in overcoming difficult hurdles in their lives. Learn more and connect with her on LinkedIn.