How to Successfully Transition from the Military to the Civilian Workplace

Transition from military to private sector career

How to Successfully Transition from the Military to the Civilian Workplace

As a military veteran, transitioning to the civilian workplace can be an overwhelming experience. When leaving the military, a series of adjustments need to be made—from geographical location to career, relationships, support systems, and more.

Veterans often have to redefine themselves and navigate new expectations while almost mourning their previous lives. It can be a complex process, but thankfully, there are resources and programs in place to help.

In this article, we’ll share career advice for veterans, and tips and tricks to help make the transition to the civilian workplace a smooth and successful one.

Starting a New Career

Many veterans desire to start a new career as part of their transition to civilian life. According to a Pew Research Center study, 95% of veteran respondents sought employment after serving in the military.

The transition can be challenging and it may take some time for military personnel to find the right-fit job. Luckily, there are programs in place such as the VA Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to help service members transition successfully. Veterans can join TAP one year before separation, or two years before retiring. The program provides information, and tools such as online courses to help prepare veterans for civilian life.

Transferable Skills

While there are many skills that military personnel acquire while in service, it can take some time to identify those strengths in a new environment. Veterans can make excellent employees.

Transferable skills learned in the military include leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management. Those core skill sets could be applied to several different roles including management.

Hard skills include physical abilities and technical expertise, while soft skills could equate to good customer service and attention to detail. For veterans to successfully identify a career field and their desired job, they must first understand how their skills can be applied and translated in the civilian workplace. If your background is in skilled trades, make sure you are current with all your certifications, training before your separation.

Tips and Tricks for TransitioningVeterans transitioning to civilian life

Military personnel are advised to begin planning for their transition to the civilian workplace as far in advance as possible. The following are seven tips and tricks for veterans that can help make the adjustment easier:

  1. Do a self-assessment: Think about more than just your skill sets and personal strengths, but also where you believe you’ll find the most gratification and meaning.
  2. Develop a career plan: Consider taking an online skills assessment to determine what type of career would be the best fit for you.
  3. Make a list of skill sets: List your skills, any projects you’ve worked on, your experience, and your education.
  4. Research career fields: Once you’ve determined a career that appeals to you, research what training or experience is needed.
  5. Create a non-military resume: Identify your transferable skills and translate your experiences into civilian language for employers. Avoid using military jargon or acronyms that hiring managers may not understand.
  6. Start the job search: Browse job boards and research the companies you’re interested in working with. Many veterans will apply for government jobs as military experience often translates well with federal employment.
  7. Network: Create a LinkedIn profile and let all of your contacts know that you’re seeking employment. Attend networking events, especially those designated for military veterans.

In closing

The transition from the military to the civilian workplace may have its challenges, but it’s an attainable task when you prepare in advance, identify your resources, and create a practical plan.

SURESTAFF helps US veterans find jobs in logistics and warehouses in Illinois, Texas, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, Indiana, and Wisconsin and is a part of the Illinois Hires Heroes Consortium (IHHC). Learn more about how you can transition to a manufacturing career.

Additional resources include the Veteran Staffing Network (VSN), another employment program that helps employers find qualified military talent. The U.S. Department of Labor also has employment services for veterans and service members. Follow this link to learn more ways veterans can land civilian jobs.


About the Author


Kim is a seasoned content marketing professional with over 15 years of corporate communications experience. Her “sweet spot” is with creative writing, both short and long-form,Kim Wacker and she has a proven track record working with IBM, Jackson Healthcare, and Walt Disney World, among many others. Kim is also a singer and actor and has been performing on stage and screen since she was a child. She has a great passion for TV and film production and went to school for broadcast journalism. Connect with Kim on LinkedIn.