Tips for your next career move after military service

(BPT) - Making the transition from military service to civilian life can be challenging on multiple fronts — and the toughest issue can be figuring out your next career move. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available for veterans and military families coping with the job hunt, moving, handling their finances and more.

As part of Navy Federal Credit Union’s continued effort to help our nation’s heroes get hired, the credit union conducted a recent webinar featuring top veteran employees offering useful advice for getting hired and moving forward in your life after military service. Bryant Luciano, Recruiter II and a Marine veteran, and Kerry A. Favero-Rivera, senior organization development consultant and executive coach, who is a Navy veteran, provide their tips for making the most of this transition.

Start your job search early

Both Luciano and Favero-Rivera recommended beginning your job hunt immediately — not waiting until you start your transitioning classes. This will give you the time to figure out what you want to do after your transition and then actively pursue that career.

Prepare yourself mentally

Looking for work, especially in a new field, is always daunting. “Understand that you will get rejected more often than not,” says Luciano, “And know that the job search is hard, but not impossible. Keep going, trust the process and rely on those around you like a transition officer or recruiter to help you navigate any challenges.”

Use your network

Favero-Rivera emphasizes the importance of tapping into your own personal network throughout the process. “Everyone you know also knows others, so take advantage of that wider network,” she says. “Most people get jobs through word of mouth so by simply talking to others about what you’re looking for, you’re furthering your job search.” Start by telling everyone you know what kind of work you’re looking for, and your network will start to keep their eyes and ears open for you.

Do your research

Luciano emphasizes using career-oriented websites for research, including Indeed® and Glassdoor®. Decide where you want to live and then explore companies and organizations in that area online. “Make a list of five companies you want to work for,” says Luciano. “Research those companies and find out what types of opportunities they have available.”

You may need to find training opportunities or develop skills on the job as you transition into your ideal role. This will open doors to endless opportunities in the long-term. As you work your way to that ideal role, your experience will help you stand out. “Many companies prefer to hire from within,” confirms Favero-Rivera, “So it could make sense to start a job that only meets some of your needs, but long-term will be fulfilling and at a company you want to work for. When a job opens up that you prefer, you’ll be in a better position to get hired since you’re already an employee.”

Make the most of veterans’ organizations and programs

From highlighting further training opportunities to exploring career options, and helping to improve your resume to broadening your interview skills, there are helpful resources available for veterans. "Don’t be afraid to ask for help," says Luciano.

A few helpful programs and organizations for veterans include:

Translate your military service into civilian terms

It is important to create a resume that not only reflects the experience and expertise you’ve gained from your military service, but also sells these valuable skills to a civilian employer in terms they understand. Veterans’ organizations can help you with this crucial step in the transition process.

Factor in the current situation

As well as adjusting your job search to be primarily online during the COVID-19 pandemic, you will also want to ask prospective employers about how they're coping with current health and safety protocols for employees. “Make sure the emphasis is on the employee over everything else,” Luciano says. “This will show you that a company’s culture will not only value the work you do, but who you are as an individual too.”

Manage your finances smartly

Both experts agree that sometimes you need to take a job just to pay the bills. “In the meantime, continue to explore what and where your best job will be,” says Favero-Rivera.

Here are their best tips for staying on top of finances:

  • Pay yourself first. “Try to save just a little, no matter what your situation,” says Favero-Rivera. “Your future self will thank you.” Setting up automatic deposits into a savings account with each paycheck is one easy way to save.
  • Write down your budget. Use the NFCU Budget Worksheet to help put your budget on paper. “Actually writing your budget down makes it easier to stick to it,” says Luciano.

Build on your training. Throughout your transition, continue to employ tactics your financial advisors taught you during your service. According to Luciano, many of them will still apply in civilian life.

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