The job search territory may feel like a vast and daunting terrain as you begin transitioning from the military to civilian workforce. Sifting through a myriad of job titles and companies can seem endless, only to be followed by interviews and – ultimately – assimilating to your new role. Throughout all of this, it’s important to remember that your skills as a veteran are invaluable. They will help you shine among the competition and rise through the corporate ranks with greater ease.
To help veterans with this transition, we asked our colleagues at The Planet Group for their advice. Here’s what they had to say.
Q: This question is for our veterans only: what advice would you give other veterans?
A: Be patient and rely on the moral/discipline standards that you were taught while serving. Just like anything give it time and you will begin to adjust but it will be a shocker at first. Remember you are or were a soldier that was built to uphold certain standards and those standards are easily transferred into civilian life, it just takes time. – Keith McNeal, Planet Technology
A: Get involved in the veteran’s community, this is a great resource for support and a way to help transition from military to civilian life. Be proud of your service, many people do not realize the sacrifice you have made. – Charlotte Appel, Planet Professional
A: Updating resumes can be daunting, but veterans should be made aware that they do not have to do it alone. In fact, there are many resources available to veterans that they might not be aware of. For example, prior to working at Planet, I worked through the Department of Labor in a program called HVRP (Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program). While there I helped veterans who were experiencing houselessness find meaningful employment. HVRP is a national program and is available in every state. State employment offices offer free resume building classes as well as the VA. – Patrick Moran, Planet Forward
A: The sense of team, community, culture, and collaboration can always vary to large degrees in the civilian workforce than the military, so you have to get your head around the understanding of what is expected of you, others, and know that those standards do not always look the same from person to person. Have more patience for individuals that move at a different pace and urgency when it comes to performing the job at hand.
I am a 3x Infantry combat veteran that led Marines into some of the most hostile environments you can think of in Iraq, once upon of time. If I can make the transition, anyone can. The unknown can be nerve wracking, but if they fall back on their work ethic and are willing to put in the effort then there are far more great opportunities available to them in the civilian workforce. I would happily be available to help, talk, or answer questions from anyone in the military who is looking to transition into the civilian workforce. – Carl Williams, Planet Technology
*The below questions are answered by The Planet Group employees – civilians and veterans alike*
Q: Are there certain civilian jobs where you’ve seen veterans be particularly successful?
A: I’ve had a few military vets I’ve spoken to in the Scrum Master and Project Manager space. They have been very solid in those roles with military histories. – Kody Kearns, Strive Consulting
A: I think veterans can be great in any role. From my experience, I have placed veterans in several different disciplines in IT and I’ve seen a lot of success in roles relating to Help Desk/Desktop Support. Some of the biggest skills needed for these roles are dependability and reliability, which is innate in veterans. I also see these veterans excel quickly and pick up the work quickly. – Chris Douglas, Planet Technology
A: Usually their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) job has a civilian similar job, which makes it easier to assimilate into a similar position. – Keith McNeal, Planet Technology
A: Veterans make up a diverse constituency and it is hard to highlight a specific field in which they excel in. That being said, in my experience, veterans gravitate towards trades jobs where they can utilize skills learned in the service and can grow in a team environment. Jobs that come to mind in relation to Planet Forward include HVAC Technician, Electrician, Maintenance Technician, etc. Veterans strive to find meaning in employment that mirrors the pride that they felt while in the service. Recruiters are in a unique position to assist veterans in this goal. – Patrick Moran, Planet Forward
Q: What are some transferrable skills that veterans can take with them into the civilian workforce?
A: I have hired veterans and have seen immediate benefits in engagement, willingness to learn, accountability, and leadership. Veterans often have been given significant responsibilities and are looking to apply their competencies in relevant and tangible ways. Essential skills and proficiencies above job specific include communication, listening to understand, being proactive, and learning technical concepts. – Stephen Taipala, PFES
A: For Project Managers: leadership, organization, resourceful problem solvers, communication skills. And for Scrum Masters: organized, good at coaching, communication, responsibility and accountability. The veterans I placed as Scrum Masters all came from logistics and supply roles in the military, which operated in an informal Agile approach. – Kody Kearns, Strive Consulting
A: Leadership – if someone was a high-ranking officer, they have learned strong leadership skills to effectively communicate to a team and motivate them! Morals and purpose – military members make many sacrifices for our country, so veterans tend to want a career that’s going to allow them to make a positive impact. – Charlotte Appel, Planet Professional
A: Like all employees and jobs, a lot still comes down to the individual but there are many intangible skills –work ethic, punctuality, critical thinking, tact, poise, teamwork, discipline, and proper communication up and down the hierarchy structure. – Carl Williams, Planet Technology
A: Leadership, open to change, time management, competitive, team player, communication, integrity. These are soft skills. Depending on one’s MOS they may have learned a trade such as tech, analyst, etc. – Kevin Brown, Planet Technology
Q: How about interview advice?
A: When possible, correlate military experience with the job you are applying for. One of my team members had similar experience in the service as the position they were applying for, so they could speak to how they did that job within the military. Another explained how the military taught them management skills, problem solving, and other soft skills that would help them excel in the position they were applying for. Many of us have no idea what it is like to be a part of the armed forces and how the things taught there would apply to our careers. Having these candidates help bridge that gap for me as the hiring manager was a large part of why they were selected to join the team. – Laura Hannah, PFES
A: Interviews can also be daunting. The best advice I give veterans can apply to anyone who is looking for a job. An ideal interview is a conversation where both parties can freely share views. I also tell veterans not to shy away from highlighting their career in the service. Employers love to hire veterans. – Patrick Moran, Planet Forward
A: Be yourself, show a personality. Make sure you really speak about your strengths and motivations. – Carl Williams, Planet Technology
pssst if you’re a veteran looking for a job, contact us!
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