All military personnel transitioning out of the service go through the same fundamental stages. These stages can be divided into the following seven different phases: Self-Assessment, Exploration, Skills Development, Intern Programs, Job Search, Job Selection, and Support.
Phase One: Self-Assessment
Ask yourself: Who am I? What are my talents and experiences? Why would someone want to hire me?
In this phase, document your portfolio of knowledge, experience, skills, talents, and abilities. For starters, create a list using your personal DD Form 2586, "Verification of Military Experience and Training. ” Your VMET outlines the training and experience you received during your military career. It is designed to help you, but it is not a resume.
To get your verification document, go to the DoD TAP website. All separating military personnel can electronically download and print their VMET document and personal cover letter from your military service from the VMET website.
You can get your verification document online as long as you have a current DoD Common Access Card (CAC) or have a current Defense Finance, Accounting Service (DFAS) myPay Personal Identification Number (PIN). However, you should retrieve it within 120 days prior to your separation. If you have problems getting your VMET and need assistance, check with your local Transition Counselor.
Add anything else you can think of to this list. In essence, you are now creating an "asset bank" from which you can draw later when called upon to write a resume or attend a job interview. If you need help, use the professional guidance available through your local installation Transition Assistance Office or Education Center. Or refer to the self-help section of your local library or bookstore for useful career planning books.
In addition you can get an official transcript of your education and training credits from your service branch. Each branch uses the Joint Service Transcript or JST. The JST is an academically accepted document to validate a service member's military occupational experience and training. All enlisted, officers and warrant officers, both active and veterans from all Army components, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy can get their JST by visiting the JST website. Air Force personnel should contact CCAF to receive transcripts.
Phase Two: Exploration
Ask Yourself: What are the current and emerging occupational areas that are attractive to me? Do these jobs coincide with my values and aptitudes? How do I find these jobs?
With your assessment in hand, you probably have some ideas about what you want to do. Now is not the time to limit your opportunities. Expand the list of job titles and career paths that appeal to you. Broaden your geographic horizons to include several places where you might like to pursue your career. Many resources are available to help you explore your expanded set of options.
Phase Three: Skills Development
Ask Yourself: How do I prepare myself to be an attractive candidate in the occupational areas that I have chosen? Do I need additional education or training?
As you continue through the exploration phase, you may find some interesting opportunities for which you feel only partially qualified. Your local Transition Assistance Office and Education Center can help you determine the academic credentials or vocational training programs you will need and how to get them.
Phase Four: Intern Programs
Ask Yourself: Do I have the aptitude and experience needed to pursue my occupational interests? Are there internships, volunteer jobs, temporary services, or part-time jobs where I might try out the work that interests me?
To learn about intern programs, inquire at your Transition Assistance Office, your local civilian personnel office, or the state employment office. Some government-sponsored programs, such as obtaining teaching credentials, can provide income and training in exchange for guaranteed employment. Check local and base libraries and the education office for books containing intern program information. Temporary agencies are also a great way to become familiar with a company or industry. Explore internship possibilities with private employers: Many companies have such programs but do not advertise them. Don't necessarily turn down an interesting volunteer position. Volunteering increases your professional skills and can sometimes turn into a paid position.
Phase Five: The Job Search
Ask Yourself: How do I identify job requirements and prospective companies, find networks and placement agencies, and generally increase my knowledge and experience in the job market? How do I write a resume, develop leads, conduct an interview, and complete a job application?
Once you have selected your future career, you must now begin the challenge of finding work. Millions of people are hired all across the country every year. Employee turnover opens up existing positions, and entirely new jobs are created every day. Nevertheless, the job market is competitive. The best way to improve your odds is to play your best hand: Seek the opportunities for which you are best prepared.
Work hard at finding a job. Network! The vast majority of jobs are filled by referrals, not the want ads. Use your network of friends, colleagues, and family; as well as the job listings provided by your installation's Transition Assistance Office, the local personnel office, or even the nearest community college. Take advantage of job-hunting seminars, resume-writing workshops, and interviewing techniques classes too. Attend job fairs and talk to as many company representatives as possible.
Phase Six: Job Selection
Ask Yourself: How do I select the right job?
Although it might be tempting, you don't have to take the first job that comes along. Consider the type of work, location, salary and benefits, climate, and how the opportunity will enhance your future career growth. Even if you take the first job offer, you are not necessarily locked into it. Some experts say employers are biased against hiring the unemployed. A shrewd move might be to look for a job from a job. Take a suitable position-and then quickly move on to a better one.
Phase Seven: Support
Ask Yourself: How do I make a smooth transition to a new career?
For your transition to be truly successful, you should manage the personal affairs side of your career change with the same professionalism and care as your job search. Things like out-processing, relocation, financial management, taking care of your family, and coping with the inevitable stress are important too.
While not an official part of the transition program, going through these steps will help you know who you are and where you are headed.
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