Monday, June 21, 2010

1-Year Plan for Successful Military-to-Civilian Transition

If you're one year from being discharged or retiring from the U.S. Military, you need to start planning your transition back to civilian employment now, according to human resources professional and military veteran, Patra Frame.

Patra says that in today's job market, it typically takes three months to get a job that pays $30,000 a year, and an additional two months for every $10,000 more per year. So the sooner you start preparing for your job search, the better.

1-Year Military-to-Civilian Transition Plan

In a nutshell, here's what should be in your plan (more details in the video below):
  1. Figure out your career choices. What do you love to do that would translate into a job?
  2. Know the requirements for that kind of work. Get qualified if you're not already, and start looking for job openings.
  3. Use civilian lingo. Translate military language into terms that are understood in your new occupation, and even within the company where you want to work.
  4. Build your network. Join online social media sites and attend in-person professional association meetings and job fairs where you can network.

Is a 1-Year Plan Realistic for Those in Combat?

My question to Patra:
There are thousands of U.S. Military men and women in combat. How realistic is it for them to implement a one-year transition plan? How would they do that with all their current responsibilities and geographic constraints?

Patra's answer:
Thanks for asking about the timeline, Susan. I know full well that many military folks will not have the time over the last year of their service to focus a lot of effort on their job search. Some who are stationed overseas also will not have the opportunity to check out local chapters of professional groups which might assist in their transition because there are no such options.

But too many people who could create a plan and dedicate 30-60 minutes each week for 6-12 months don't. They expect to be able to do the whole job search in their last few months or weeks of active duty.

And these folks usually have difficulty when they leave the service - they do not know their options, they don't understand the civilian terminology, they don't know how to most effectively find a place to succeed. Many are not financially or emotionally prepared to go without work for months. Some take jobs that are a poor matches and bounce around a lot in the first few years -- which then creates other problems. And this is not rank-dependent. I have talked with retiring colonels who are as confused and frustrated as any one-term E-4!

But as a vet who made her own share of mistakes in transition, I made this video hoping our current military folks might get some ideas that would be helpful in making a successful transition.

To those who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. Military:
On behalf of Patra and Susan Ireland's Job Lounge, thank you for your service. We wish you a speedy and successful transition into civilian employment.

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