Resources That Help Ease the Military-to-Civilian Career Transition
Navigating the job hunt -- already a tough task during an economic downturn -- can be especially difficult for veterans transitioning out of the military. Some of these individuals experience culture shock. Others must relocate themselves and their families to new cities or countries. And some don't know how to connect their military experience to civilian jobs. Each of these dilemmas, and a handful of others veterans face, can complicate the transition process and make it difficult for veterans to achieve employment quickly.
"Fortunately, there are several resources, military and civilian, that are available to assist transitioning veterans in finding their next job," says Janet Farley, author of "Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide." In particular, she recommends that veterans reach out to the following resources for help:
- Military Career Transition Centers: To locate the nearest one, veterans should visit www.dodtransportal.org.
- U.S. Department of Labor: In addition to informing veterans about any unemployment benefits they may be eligible for, the employment office can refer them to employers for actual interviews, at no cost.
- Military and professional associations: By using contacts within the military and professional associations, veterans can tap into the opportunity-rich world of the hidden job market. Here, jobs are filled before they are even announced to the public. Veterans who aren't a member of any such group, should consider the benefits of membership today.
- College and university placement services: If a veteran has been attending school or plans to do so in the future, the placement services of that school can offer job search advice and access to its employment database.
- Executive search firms: There are many search firms, and they all want business. If a veteran decides to hire a "headhunter," he or she should be sure they understand their financial obligation in the event they obtain employment while under contract with the firm. Use of these services may or may not cost money. Veterans should read the fine print before signing anything. Veterans may be required to attend the firm's job search prep workshops and specially arranged job fairs where they'll meet with representatives from its client companies.
- Employment agencies: Employment agencies can help veterans land short-term, long-term and, in some cases, permanent assignments with companies. Again, use of their services may or may not cost money. There are many reputable no-fee agencies that are ready, willing and able to assist people. Generally, individuals are interviewed by a representative of the agency who will then refer and/or place individuals with other companies for a specific period of time. In such cases, individuals usually remain employees of the agency and not of the company where they happen to be assigned. In other cases, they may be placed with a client company for a certain period of time, after which they may be hired directly by that company and relieved of their obligation to the employment agency.
In addition to these resources, Farley offers some practical advice for people transitioning out of the military:
"You will have days when it seems as though everyone wants to hire you and days when you just want to give up. Don't throw in the towel when the going gets tough. Accept the fact that finding a job doesn't usually happen overnight. You may want to be employed your first day as a civilian, but reality says that doesn't always happen. The average job search can take anywhere from three to six months. If you focus too much on the future and not enough on the day-to-day requirements for getting to your goal, you will become quickly overwhelmed. Keep it real. Keep it in the present with the occasional thought splurge to the future. Manage your job search. Don't let events manage you."
Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST's Job Search and Career Blog (http://jistjobsearchandcareer.blogspot.com/). Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SelenaDehne.
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