by Janet Farley
Excerpted and adapted from: Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Guide Jist 2013.
Adjust to Your New Normal
It’s not just the resume that you have to pull together. You have to pull together that space between your ears as well. Where the mind goes the body is sure to follow and you need to get yourself on board with the program as soon as possible.
Here are the Facts of Your Normal
- You are leaving your military job behind. No matter how important you or others believe you to be to the organization your job will go on with someone else in it after you’re gone. In other words don’t be a hanger-on. Let the new guy if there is one already assume ownership over your domain. You’re moving on. Accept it. If no one is available to take over your responsibilities figure out a way to gracefully scale it back at work and refocus your efforts on your career transition.
- Others still in uniform and far from their own transitions may insinuate that you are somehow being disloyal to leave the service. Never mind that you have given blood sweat and tears for one tour or a lifetime. You may be as loyal as anyone can possibly get in uniform. Nevertheless someone else will always to make you feel like a traitor of sorts for even thinking about getting out. If you run into “that guy” see him for who is in reality: a slightly jealous and somewhat narrow-minded individual. One day someone will make him feel that way too. Maybe then he will catch a clue and feel remorse over how he treated you. Bottom line? You have done your time and you can be proud of it.
- Most people outside the military life won’t understand what you’ve been though. It may not even be worth the effort to try to explain it in some cases. Accept that you have been a person belonging to a small percentage of Americans who have chosen to be in the military. You have done things and been places that those not associated with the military would have a difficult time understanding. There’s a big difference between reading the headlines and actually being a part of them. Certainly help would-be employers understand the depth and breadth of your skills and work-related experiences. Don’t feel that you have an obligation to explain yourself to everyone however unless you want to do so.
- Civilian life will be different. It will take some getting used to being a civilian even if you think you are ready for it. Don’t be surprised to find out that it can take months or even years to make the transition inside of yourself completely.
- You may have to prove yourself all over again. You may have been a commissioned or non-commissioned officer in uniform but that doesn’t mean that you’ll start off working at the top of the food chain in the civilian world. You may have to climb your way back up to the top.
Effectively Manage Job-Search Stress
Getting out is stressful. There is no other way to say it. You may already understand how difficult stress can be to manage and have your own plan for keeping it together in place.
Understand and accept that change is coming if it’s not already happening. You won’t to stop it but you can control how you handle it. Prepare for what you have to do. You have to find a job and you need to know how to do that or you need to refresh your memory on the subject. Organize yourself and embrace these tips:
- Recognize that finding a job is a job in itself. Consistently work at it whether it is for one hour a day or eight. Even if you aren’t filling out job applications or e-mailing your resume to potential employers spend the time to increase your networking efforts research employers or work through the seven steps in the Quick Military Transition Guide (Jist Works Inc. 2013).
- Remember that quality of effort is what counts not quantity.
- Avoid procrastination. If you have to revise a resume do it now. If you need to follow up on an interview pick up the phone. If you have to go shopping for an interview suit get going. Taking care of the details now will keep them from becoming headaches later.
- Take care of yourself: Eat right get enough sleep exercise and avoid bad habits. Surround yourself with positive people. Positive people will help you maintain an optimistic confident outlook that is essential in a successful job search.
- If the stress becomes overwhelming be strong enough to reach out for professional help.
Final Thoughts on Successful Transitioning
Following the ideas and tips in this article should help you adjust to the new normal of civilian life and the complexities of the civilian job-search process.
See also my article Surviving Your Military-to-Civilian Career Transition.
Maximize your use of the many no-cost veteran and career resources — including career consulting to resume-writing to job placements. These resources are there to help empower you to success in your transition from military service to civilian worker.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college career and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
This article is part of Job Action Day 2013.
Janet Farley is the author of Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job (Jist Works Inc. 2013). Follow her on Twitter @mil2civguide. Follow her blogs ResumeRx and Life?s Too Short to Hate Your Job.