G.I. Jobs Virtual Job Fair   |   July 25

Virtual Job Fair   |   July 25

Military Transition Job Search: 3 Things Not to Do

Transitioning out of the military can be an exciting time for you. It can also be a scary time, since in many cases this will be the first time you have ever had to conduct a job search.

You have probably read many great articles on what to do in your job search, but is there anything that you should NOT do?

1. Do Not Start Searching for a Job After Your Terminal Leave Has Already Begun: Looking for a job takes longer than you think. According to Jobvite, the average length of time it takes to get a job is six weeks. Factors such as salary, location, industry and time of year can increase that length. The federal hiring process is even longer and could take months.

Everyone’s experiences are different, but since it may take you several months to get a job offer, why wait to start looking for a job until you have already started your terminal leave?


2. Do Not Use Military Terms and Acronyms: MOS, EOD, TDY, WTI … You may know what these acronyms mean, but civilians do not! Spell them out on your resume. In fact, if you are an EOD specialist, writing out the whole phrase ‘Explosive Ordnance Disposal’ may even help keywords in your resume. Use the full phrase in an interview, or better yet, translate the phrase to something that civilians will understand. The last thing you want to do in an interview is confuse the person who is interviewing you.

This applies to titles too: SGT, CDR, Staff Sergeant, Chief Petty Officer … civilians may not know what responsibility comes with what military rate/rank. Translate your title for them. For example, squad leader can translate to team lead and commander can translate to senior manager or assistant director.

And don’t forget your awards! Army Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Medal … these awards sound impressive, but a civilian probably does not understand what they mean. Provide an overview of what you did to achieve these medals.


3. Do Not Only Focus on Finding a Job That is the Equivalent of Your Current Position in the Military: You may think you will have to find a job in the civilian world doing the exact same thing you are currently doing in the military. But you don’t!

Experiences and skills from military positions can translate to a variety of different civilian positions. A platoon leader could look into a career as a logistics manager. An ammunition specialist could look into a career as a procurement specialist. Skills that you have gained in the military can translate into different civilian careers.

Yes, some military positions translate perfectly to the civilian world, such as a member of the JAG Corps or a physician. However, even those transitioning service members can broaden their job search if they want. A JAG Corps member may be able to translate their legal writing skills into a position as a technical writer. A practicing physician may be able to transition into a college teaching position. Keep your options open!


military to civilian transition guide