What to Know Before Transitioning from the Military to a Civilian Career

Transitioning from Military to civilian career

Each year, approximately 250,000 veterans make the transition from military to civilian life. This transition can bring about dramatic changes for you and your family. Finding initial employment or even deciding what career you’re going to pursue can feel overwhelming. With a little preparation, you can streamline your transition into civilian life and hit the ground running in your post-military career.

Transition Assistance Program

One of the most important assets available to veterans, specifically related to transitioning into civilian life, is the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). TAP is a DoD-led program offering resources and training opportunities that ensure service members are prepared for civilian life. This could include information about pursuing additional education, training on applying for jobs in the civilian workforce, or even starting your own business. TAP services and benefits also extend to spouses, so your entire family is able to seamlessly transition together. With several office locations around the country, you can easily schedule your in-person TAP course or consultation. TAP also offers virtual classes and services in case you’re not located near one of their offices.

USO Pathfinder Transition® Program

Another incredibly valuable resource available to assist Active Duty, Reservists, National Guard, and Military Spouses with their transition to civilian life is the USO Pathfinder Transition® Program, which provides professional development services during and after military service. When transitioning to the civilian workforce, participants are matched with a USO Transition Specialist who connects them with resources and services specific to their personal and professional goals. The program is totally free and provides one-on-one support (virtually or in person).

Assess Your Skills and Identify Your Career

Before you start applying for jobs, it’s important to first establish what kind of career you’re interested in. It’s recommended that service members take a self-assessment of their current skills and experiences to explore not only their strengths and weaknesses but also what they enjoy. This can be done on your own or with your TAP counselor. Another option to help narrow down your career path is to complete a career assessment. One of the more popular online career assessments (promoted by the VA) is the O*NET Interest Profiler career assessment. By assessing your skills and experiences, you should be able to start building out your resume as well as narrowing down what industry or career you’re interested in.

Leverage Your Veteran Status

It’s no secret that companies are always interested in hiring veterans, and you shouldn’t be afraid to take advantage of your veteran status. There are even several programs specifically designed to connect service members with potential employers. Organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes have hiring events, fellowship programs, and networking opportunities to connect Veterans with American businesses. In addition to job opportunities, your Veteran status could help aid in the search for additional education or training opportunities. Find out how you can use your VA education benefits to pay for college tuition or find a specific training program.

Prepare for the Interview

After deciding on your preferred career and refreshing your resume, it’s time to start preparing for interviews. This is where you’ll be able to adequately present your skills, experience, and personality to a potential employer. It’s crucial that you take time beforehand to practice potential questions and answers. Common techniques such as researching the position and employer, matching your skills with the set job description, having prepared materials, and coming up with questions for the interviewer are all important aspects to practice. For additional practice, The Department of Labor Employment Workshop (organized by the TAP) helps Veterans with things like developing advanced interviewing skills. 

As you transition from military life, it’s important to recognize that you’re not alone in this process. The federal government has established programs to help you and your family reacclimate and prosper in civilian life. By leveraging the available tools, you can effortlessly explore, define and achieve your new professional goals.

GoVA also has resources to help with your transition as well. From supporting you in getting VA loans to providing free access to our online financial wellness platform, The Edge, you can tap into job search tools and resume builders. No matter what, we are here to serve you!

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About Our Partnership with TowneBank Mortgage

At GoVA, we’re proud to partner with a lender that delivers peace of mind to those who have served and continue to serve our county. Together, GoVA and TowneBank Mortgage are committed to helping our military service members achieve their dreams of homeownership, as well as providing them with valuable resources along the way. As experienced lenders, TowneBank Mortgage understands the need for a quick and easy mortgage process, especially during life’s transitional moments. Headquartered in Norfolk, just miles from the world’s largest naval base, TowneBank Mortgage has had the honor of helping thousands of military families through their VA loan offerings. Their team is knowledgeable about VA products and the local market, and in-house operations allow them to respond to questions and concerns in a timely manner. Together, we can get you to closing in 30 days or less. Trust TowneBank Mortgage and GoVA loans to get you home.

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