Military Life: Preparing for Life After Service
What does your post-military career look like right now? Whether you plan on serving for 3 years or 30, eventually, that chapter will close. How will you get ready for the next adventure in your life? The military requires you to attend the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) before your term of service is complete, but sometimes it is lacking in content and follow through.
Translating military performance reports into a readable resume can be challenging. Many companies use programs that scan for keywords and formatting, so it’s never even seen by a hiring manager. When was the last time you had an actual job interview? It sounds simple but can be crucial to the final selection process. The colorful language, acronyms, and processes that the military has instilled in you rarely directly translate into a civilian job that doesn’t specialize in hiring veterans.
Then there comes your “skills”. The various branches of the military have thousands of “jobs,” some of which have a direct translation to the outside world, like heavy equipment operator, pilot, or EMT. Then there are some jobs that are harder to relate to the rest of the world, like machine gunner, artillery, or special mission aviator (my job). While they don’t directly relate to the real world, reading between the lines is where you really differentiate yourself from others. The military is great at turning us into professional multitaskers capable of being great supporting team members or stepping up as leaders because the job needs to get done. Managing your day-to-day job tasks, special programs, and supervising junior members are just a few skills that directly translate to supervisor and manager positions at almost every level of industry.
Now, focusing back on your escape plan. Skillbridge is a DOD program that allows you up to 180 days of permissive duty to focus solely on training full-time with approved industry partners after the members commander provides written authorization and approval. During this time period, your pay allowances and benefits will not change. This is not a direct hire opportunity, but it does allow employers to evaluate a service member’s suitability for future employment with the company and gives you a test of what civilian life would look like. Employers must be approved as Skillbridge employment partners by the DOD. Examples of partners in the program are Amazon, Lockheed Martin, Google, and hundreds more.
Skillbridge is just another tool in your arsenal of resources to let employers know you are looking for work. There are many non-profit organizations today that are dedicated to helping veterans find work and refine resumes to make you more appealing. At my current base, the Airman Family Readiness Center frequently runs resume workshops, mock job interviews, and certification courses. Other sites like militaryonsource.mil, sba.gov, and hiringourheroes.org provide connections to industry professionals, fellowships, and hiring events.
In a sea of social media accounts, LinkedIn has emerged as a must-have for employees and employers alike. The ability to directly connect to company recruiters, record service times and experience, and log education or other certifications you have earned along the way is immeasurable. Every time I change positions, locations, or earn a new degree or cert, I make sure I update my profile so it provides a living document of my service or achievements. Starting in 2019, the VA offers a 1-year LinkedIn Premium membership for Veterans, VA caregivers, and Fry scholar recipients. This unlocks features like InMail, premium search filters, expanded profiles, and learning modules.
Ultimately, our time in the military will come to an end, and how you prepare for your next phase is entirely up to you. Take advantage of in-service education benefits like tuition assistance, COOL programs, special job qualifications, and classes offered by your base or local community.
Links and Resources
Here are some links and resources you can check out that may help with your post-military transition:
Free LinkedIn Premium
Military One Source
Hiring our Heroes
Cool Credentialing Site
Small Business Administration