by Jessica Holbrook Hernandez
After 12 years of active duty service in the Air Force my husband decided it was time to separate from the military. The separation process can be daunting in and of itself — never mind trying to figure out how to convert 12 years of experience in communications into a career on the outside. He managed the systems computers IT issue resolution and network troubleshooting. Pursuing a career in IT in the civilian world wasn’t on his list of things he was champing at the bit to do. It was really his “fall-back” job. He was ready to do something different.
His passion was in fitness. For years he’d been a Physical Training Leader (PTL) and a youth soccer coach for his squadron. He’d traveled with the teams and played soccer all throughout Europe and his dream was to someday own his own fitness company. What so many military members making the transition seem to forget is how much more there is to what they did every day than just their primary job in the military.
From my experience opportunities are always available to serve be involved and do more. In fact the military encourages it. In my husband’s case he had 12 years of experience training fellow members in how to excel at fitness pass their PT tests and coach others in sports. He was drawn to those opportunities while in the service because those were the things he loved to do. We used this wealth of experience to create a great military-transition resume. [See a version of the fictionalized resume here] Not only was he making a transition from active duty to civilian/private-sector employment but he was making a major career change from the communications field to fitness.
We branded him as a fitness expert and used all his experience as a Youth Soccer Coach and PTL to support his brand and show why he’d be a great personal trainer and high-school coach. The brand-driven resume worked so well he was offered three opportunities six months before he ever separated. He was offered a full-time position as a personal trainer at a gym a second personal training/group fitness instructor position and a part-time seasonal position as the soccer coach for the local high-school boys’ varsity soccer team. He took the personal-training and soccer-coaching positions to pursue his passion. A year after separating and coming home he opened his own fitness company running military-style boot camps training clients one-on-one and he still coaches at the local high school.
Final Thoughts on Transitioning from Military to Civilian Successfully
My point in sharing our personal experience with transitioning from active duty to civilian employment is to help you see that you don’t have to be stuck doing security or getting pigeonholed into doing exactly what you did while active duty. You can use all those wonderful experiences you gained — and enjoyed — while you were in the military to do what you love on the outside. Don’t be afraid to use those relevant commitments experiences and groups on your resume to brand yourself for a career you’ll love — and show the employer how you would be an asset to the organization.
In my opinion anyone who sacrifices so much of his or her time talent and life to serve and protect would be a wonderful and valuable addition to any team.
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.
Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is a former Executive Hiring Manager for Fortune 500 companies and President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast. She creates powerful customized and targeted resumes that are guaranteed to get her clients interviews.