How to Start a New Career After Leaving the Military

How to Start a New Career After Leaving the MilitaryAdjusting to normal life and finding a new career after leaving the military can be a difficult time. You are likely to feel a mix of emotions.

You feel excited at being home with your loved ones.

But you also feel anxiety at the thought of starting an ordinary civilian life.

At times, it might even feel like you don’t belong.

You might feel this discomfort especially when you’re trying to find work. 

As you might know, I’m a bestselling author, award winning designer and happiness researcher. I wrote a book called Happy Habits.

In my research, I learned a lot about how to make sure you develop positive habits which lead to your best life – by embracing specific principles of “habit formation.” 

In this article I will be sharing the specific habits needed to start over with finding a new career after you leave the military.

How to Start a New Career After Leaving the Military

Despite military and civilian life being so different, the skills you’ve attained during your time of service will still play a great role in finding you a great career. If you’re unsure how to achieve this, read on. 

1. Focus on Education 

If you don’t already have college-level qualifications or an advanced degree, now is the time to go back to school. You should see it as a time of opportunity, as you can choose to study a major that’ll lead to a career you truly love. Starting a degree isn’t just good for your resume, either – there, you’ll be able to meet like-minded classmates and professors who will help you on your career journey.

You might even find that some colleges provide a tuition discount to military veterans. For example, the National Graduate Service Reduced Tuition Rate can reduce your tuition fees by up to 33%, making paying for your advanced education much easier. By using that, you’ll be able to study for a master’s degree like statistics, which will give you a clear pathway into excellent and lucrative careers. 

Of course, joining an educational institute after leaving the military won’t be a walk in the park, so some tips to help you manage include:

2. Join Study Groups

By surrounding yourself with classmates, you’ll find it easier to integrate yourself and make the most out of your studies. Plus, if you’re looking for a new career after leaving the military, you’ll find that study groups provide helpful access to other people’s ideas, notes, and help. 

3. Consider an Online Course 

If you need to work while studying, an online course will help you manage your time, as you won’t have to spend too long traveling to and from classes. 

4. Communicate with Your Tutors 

If you’re ever struggling to keep up with the work, don’t hesitate to reach out to your tutors. After all, they are there to help. 

5. Figure Out Where You Want to Work 

Figuring out what you want to do as a career after the military is possibly one of the most challenging parts. It’s vital to think about, though; otherwise, you could end up in a job you don’t like. To help you decide, go to your local transition office and ask for a career assessment. They’ll be able to figure out which careers would best suit your skills, experience, and personality. 

6. Go to Job Fairs 

If you’re struggling to find a new career after leaving the military, consider attending more job fairs. Instead of browsing through online listings, at job fairs, you can speak to real people. You might not find a job straight away, but it will give you a better idea of what career opportunities are out there. If nothing else, you might reach a conclusion about your professional direction. 

7. Assess Your Skills

As a military veteran, you have plenty of skills that will help you secure a career you love. To make it easier, write down your skills and think about which careers they may help you in. If you’re a great leader, for example, then you might do well in business management. If you previously worked in army vehicle maintenance, then you could use those already developed skills to become an auto technician or engineer.  

8. Write an Excellent Resume 

When you’re trying to find a new career after leaving the military, your resume needs to present you in the best light possible. So don’t rush it! As well as your military experience, you want to highlight any qualifications you may have as well as skills you have learned over the years. Remember – don’t cram too much information in; instead, focus on the most important selling points. 

9. Get Your Loved Ones to Help

If you were in the military for a while, you might need some outside help to find the right work for you. So, if you can, seek the help of your loved ones during this search for your new career. They could help you write a resume, nail an interview, or even just search for the right kind of job. The right family member may even have a way in at the company they work at! 

10. Learn How to Sell Yourself 

It’s not always easy, but you must learn how to sell yourself. That means having confidence, knowing your skills, and being able to present yourself properly. If you’re in a professional setting, such as a job interview or a networking event, make sure you dress well and communicate confidently. By making a great impression, you’ll have a better chance of securing a role. 

11. Work on Your Interviewing Skills 

The skills you learned in the military won’t always translate to an interviewing setting. In an interview, you must be as friendly, confident, and open as possible, as your goal is to convince the recruiter that you are the best person for the role. To nail an interview, you should:

12. Think About Your Body Language 

Body language plays a massive role in how others perceive you. As a military veteran, you likely already have great posture and body language, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to improve, especially when trying to impress. Try maintaining eye contact, delivering a great handshake, and keeping your body relaxed. 

13. Ask Questions 

You need to seem genuinely interested in the role, so ask away. You don’t need to force questions – think about what you want to know about the company, and don’t hesitate to ask. The recruiter will appreciate your honesty and transparency. 

14. Remember to Listen 

While you might be tempted to impress by telling the recruiter everything you’ve achieved, you must also listen. By doing so, you show the recruiter that you will listen well in the role, too. No one wants a new employee who talks too much! 

15. Don’t Pretend to Know Everything 

Employees don’t like candidates who act as though they can already run the place. In fact, they’d much prefer you to be humble in what you know. While you should certainly research the company as much as possible, go in expecting to learn a lot that you didn’t know previously. 

16. Take Time with Your Answer

When the recruiter asks you a question, don’t think you have to blurt out the first thing that pops into your head – it’s not a quiz! Instead, consider your answer and then give it to them confidently. By doing this, you show confidence, thought, and ability. 

17. Build a Professional Online Presence 

If you want to be noticed by more professionals, then focus on building an online presence. Get on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and start posting about topics that relate to the career you are interested in. LinkedIn is especially helpful for an online presence, as you are essentially showcasing your skill as a potential employee on there. 

18. Connect with New People 

It’s true what they say – more often than not, it’s about who you know rather than what you know. As you’ve spent time in the military, you likely don’t know too many people in the professional civilian world, so now is the time to start introducing yourself. 

19. Know What You’re Worth 

No matter how much you want a job, it’s crucial to remember your worth. While you can’t always expect a lucrative career straight away, you should also consider other options if a job doesn’t offer a reasonable salary or good benefits. So, when job hunting, keep an eye out for the better companies – looking at previous employer reviews is always helpful! 

20. Get as Much Work Experience as Possible 

While you should never sell yourself short for too long, you might need to put in several low-paid hours to build your work experience in the early days. This is especially true if you want to go into a role that has no relation to your time in the military. If you decide to pursue a degree or any other type of education, you will usually find opportunities for work experience there, so make sure to grab those opportunities. 

21. Work on Communication Skills 

Most careers require excellent communication, so work on that as much as you can. It’ll help you network, interview better, and integrate yourself smoothly into a workforce. 

22. Use the Skills You Attained 

The skills you learned in the military can help you in an ordinary job, too. For example, you are likely more motivated, committed, and dependable – all traits that employers look out for. When speaking to employers, applying to roles, and networking, be sure to highlight just how much you learned in your time in the military. Those kinds of life lessons will help you in any sort of career. 

Joining a civilian career after time in the military isn’t easy. It is more than doable, though, especially if you use everything you’ve learned over the years.

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