Military transition: Career choices

Posted by Patra Frame

So there you are, trying to figure out what jobs in the civilian world will be worthwhile.

And here I am, regularly talking success stories and research….

With all the potential careers available, how do you start to choose?

First steps are to think about what your knowledge, experience, interests, and education offer you.

What strengths do you want to use?

What experiences made you feel great?

Do you have some expertise from your military work, training, or education you want to capitalize on?

Do you love to work with people? Or data? Or things?

Make a list to start figuring out what you really want to do next. Once you have your list, you can do a lot of research with some simple steps.

If you know you want to be in a specific field because you have done it and you love it, then start your research by looking at the professional associations that exist for people in that field — many such have job boards themselves as well as professional education options and often lots of good information on the field. I talk to military folks who have been in military personnel work regularly and yet few of those who are in transition know of SHRM (the biggest HR association), much less any of the other HR-related associations. Thus they are missing a terrific resource for job search, for learning, for networking. What’s your field? Have you done even a simple online search for the associations in your field?

If you are not sure what fields you might be interested in, start with the list you made of your strengths and successes. One easy way to get ideas for jobs in an area you have strengths in is to take a few words and plug them into the search field of one of the big job boards like Monster or Indeed. I put ‘data analysis’ in on Monster and got 1000 job listings just now. Choose your words and do the same. Then look at the jobs that are listed and pick out those that seem interesting. What do they have in common? What titles do they use? What qualifications are most common? Each of these aspects gives you information to narrow your choices down a bit or to move onto another set of descriptive words. Do this several times with your major success and interests areas and you will begin to find the types of jobs which interest you.

Need more ideas on what in your background might be the makings of a good career for you? Check out the free career choice assistance at O*Net.

When you get ready to look at specific jobs and locations, don’t forget to talk to the reference librarian at your public library. They have access to a wide range of resources, many of which cost $$ to access otherwise, and they can really help you learn more about potential companies and jobs.

I am at a job fair and talking to a retiring naval aviator – who can only tell me he wants to be ‘a manager’. Now he might actually be a terrific manager. But no organization is going to be interested in him because he could not be more specific than that. He does not have a resume that is an effective ad for him. He cannot describe what he wants in a way that makes it easy for others to help him. And he cannot quite understand why he is not making more progress in finding a job.

Guess what I tell him? Do your homework, figure out what you really want to do next, take your experience and make the case for whatever you are targeting.

And so since his difficulties are ones all of us who deal with transitioning military see regularly, I am telling you the same thing. Know yourself first. Do your research based on that. Then you can start to create your marketing materials, talk to people and make connections to learn more or get into your target organizations, and to get your job search into success.


This entry was posted on Thursday, December 02, 2010 1:00 pm

One thought on “Military transition: Career choices”

  1. I have been a professional resume writer since the early 1970s. My company developed a specialty in resumes for transitioning military after my audience with the DOD in 2000.
    Your article is very informative. When I interview my clients, I also guide them to the appropriate careers based on their skills and achievements, many of which can be useful in civilian careers.

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