Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Start Early to be Prepared for your Military Transition.

I teach part of a Transition Assistance Program for military veteran’s in my local area. I often meet people who are 12 to 18 months from their retirement date in my class. Many would say that they are starting too early. However, I disagree with this statement. I believe it is never too early to get started when preparing for a successful transition from a military to civilian career.

Here is a schedule you can use as a guideline for your military transition:

18 months before separation
* Attend your Transition Assistance Program on your military base..
* Define the type of career field and position you would like to pursue when you make your transition.
* Perform research on your career field of choice. Define the skills, qualifications, and education that are required in this field.
* Gather all your performance evaluations, awards and decorations, training programs, and certifications you have attained during your career.
* Review your career and define the relevant transferable skills you have attained during your career.
* Begin to prepare your resume targeted toward your career field of choice.
* Make contact with your network. Identify previous peers, former supervisors, and subordinates who work in companies or industries that you would like to target.

12 to 18 months before separation
* Refine and finalize your resume. Ensure it is targeted to the position for which you would like to apply and that the resume has translated your skills and accomplishments into “civilian” terms.
* Ensure all your networking contacts have a copy of your resume and are aware of the type of position you are seeking as well as your date of availability.

6 to 9 months before separation
* Consider attending another Transition Assistance Program on your military base to refresh your memory and refine your knowledge.
* Begin preparing for an interview. Create a list of skills and benefits that you can offer a company. Write STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) stories that demonstrate your ability to employ your most marketable skills.
* Begin actively attending career fairs in the market where you wish to live.
Start the federal application process if you are looking to work for the federal government.

3 to 6 months before separation
* Touch base will all your networking contacts again. Let each person know your separation date is imminent and request 15 minutes of their time to discuss the opportunities in their company.
* Begin actively applying to open positions in the civilian workplace. Apply to job postings on company websites as well as job boards such as www.indeed.com and www.careerbuilder.com.
* Refine your interviewing skills. Ensure you are prepared to answer questions such as “tell me about yourself” and “what are your strengths” by defining your marketable skills, benefits, and accomplishments.

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