Gearing Up for Your Transition

05/17/2012  |

Stress awaits the veteran who approaches today's job market unprepared. In other words, transitioning service members need a plan. One of the most important steps veterans can take is to assess their career goals. Establishing career goals helps service members focus their job search to specific fields of interest and minimizes time spent in the pursuit of jobs that aren't a good fit.

The Military Advantage: A Comprehensive Guide to Your Military & Veterans Benefits, written by Terry Howell,'s managing editor for benefits, recommends transitioning servicemembers ask themselves the following questions to establish career goals:
  • What are your specific goals for your career? Do you want to earn a living or simply acquire new skills in a particular field?
  • Are there certain types of work that you enjoy; for instance, do you like writing or do you prefer to work with numbers?
  • What type of environment do you prefer? Would you like to travel?
  • Do you prefer working independently or working closely with others?
  • What are your preferences for salary, geographic region and so forth?
By answering these questions and subsequently establishing goals, transitioning servicemembers reduce the stress associated with finding employment.

Once career goals are established, it's vital for transitioning servicemembers to revise their resumes and cover letters to reflect past experiences and tailor them for the particular job they seek. The Military Advantage warns that employers typically choose resumes that best match the open position.

Veterans can also check online job boards like for employment opportunities. And, it's a good idea to check company websites for opportunities to apply online. (Most companies list job opportunities under the "About Us" link.)

What's more, there are resources available to transitioning servicemembers interested in government employment. The Veterans Preference system ensures that veterans have priority for government employment.

But all the preparation and planning in the world cannot stop a slow job market. Sometimes the jobs just aren't there, which leads to stress and frustration. That stress and frustration can prompt former servicemembers - and civilians too - to take the first job offered to them. Of course bills have to be paid, but it's always best to wait for the best opportunity, to accept a job in which you will flourish.

A career transition can feel like a full-time job in itself, but a sound plan and the right attitude will ensure veterans find the right fit.
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