Detailed Military to Civilian Career Transition Checklist
One of the greatest challenges of leaving active duty is to create a comprehensive and detailed transition plan for your next career. There are a great many considerations, such as where to live, occupations to research and how to begin to conduct research on all the possible opportunities.
The following is a career-planning checklist for those leaving active duty or for military veterans who are looking for a new career or opportunity. The goals of the transition checklist is for you to identify your career goals, identify how to translate your military skills into understandable and quantified accomplishments for your resume, create a robust network in the Geography-Industry-Occupation that you want to work to locate and secure opportunities, and ensure that you improve your skills throughout the transition process.
Career Transition Goal: Create 3–5 acceptable job offers in a geography, industry and occupation that you want to work in a minimum of 30 days prior to the end of terminal leave. Maintain financial stability and necessary benefits through transition period.
Goal Date: Start new employment by the end of terminal leave, or by a specific date.
1. Understand the Business and Hiring Environments
A. Daily Reading on the general business environment.
1. Local paper, business and local sections.
2. Businessweek (online or print).
3. The New York Times (online or print).
4. Fortune (online or print).
5. The Wall Street Journal (online or print).
6. Create specific Google news alerts on topics of interest.
7. Create alerts in all business sources to receive daily updates.
B. Take the offered ACAP/TAP transition class for initial transition knowledge and find available resources. Make contact with your local city and state veteran, Department of Labor and State Workforce development officials.
1. Schedule a regular, physical check-in and update period with these people.
C. Take notes on cities, states, industries and occupations that interest you and have growth.
D. Read Combat Leader to Corporate Leader to understand how military skills translate to business.
E. Go to Vimeo and watch videos on the “Combat Leader to Corporate Leader” channel on how to create a career transition plan, networking and how to work a career fair.
F. Create the Geography-Industry-Occupation (GIO) Mind Map to identify opportunity.
1. List at least five city, state geographic combinations where you would like to work.
2. List at least five industries that you would like to work or interest you.
3. List at least five occupations that you would like to work or interest you.
4. Create a prioritized GIO list matched with company names to start networking.
5. Your GIO list may be flexible. For example, if you have a specific city, state that you want to live, then you will need to discover more Industries and Occupations to target.
G. Use the ACTion framework to create a list of your primary and translatable skills for your resume. The ACTion framework has a veteran focus on their Attributes or employment characteristics that will make them a great employee; Concrete skills the veteran has received for formal education in and outside the military; and Translatable military skills the veteran can translate into skill sets an employer needs.
1. List your work attributes with examples. Stories are a great way to do this.
2. Concrete skills that you possess that translate to the workplace. This formal training relates to skills that the company needs.
3. List military-to-business-transferable skills. These military skill sets can be translated to help the company out, such as SOP creation, coaching, small team leadership, planning and competitive analysis.
H. Prepare your initial resume and general cover letter describing accomplishments from ACTion framework.
1. Ensure your resume lists quantified accomplishments and results and is not a summary of your past responsibilities.
2. A resume must clearly demonstrate your accomplishments and what you achieved in clear, understandable and quantifiable terms.
3. Follow guidelines provided by TAP and ACAP for resume creation.
4. Have a minimum of five non-military professionals review your resume. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
I. Use the backward planning method to identify your new job start date, and then allow 6–8 weeks for each stage of this process. The total time for your transition plan should be 6 months to 8 months.
J. Determine your pre- and post-military financial requirements and an initial budget.
2. Plan and Target Your Career Search, Networking and Transition Plan
A. Confirm and organize your GIO mind map into a prioritized list.
B. Conduct research to match company names to your prioritized GIO list.
1. Source: ReferenceUSA from InfoUSA.
2. Source: Hoover’s Business & Industry Directory.
3. Source: Yellow pages and Google searches.
4. Source: Local newspaper and business periodicals.
C. Create a database of contacts with individual name, company name, mailing address, email and phone for a professional network database.
1. Your goal is to identify 100–200 contacts in the geography, industry and occupation where you wish to work.
2. These should be non-HR professionals.
3. These people will be used for a direct mail, letter-writing campaign to build your network.
D. Continue professional reading and developing general business knowledge.
E. Talk to other contacts, recent veterans, and other transition resources on your transition plan and their recommendations.
F. Continue to perfect your resume, cover letter and translation of military to business skills. Ensure a strict focus on how your actions achieved results and quantify results and responsibilities.
G. Purchase an initial professional wardrobe of business and business-casual attire. Be sure your wardrobe reflects the industry and occupation you’re interested in.
H. Create a professional online presence on Facebook and LinkedIn.
I. Schedule and conduct 4–5 practice interview sessions to improve your interview process.
J. Do a final check of your GIO transition and network plan.
K. Create a list of future job fairs, especially job fairs that focus on military veterans, in priority and in the areas that support your GIO list.
3. Execute Your Post-Military Career Search And Transition
A. Start letter-mailing networking campaign (goal should be 200–300 letters) to companies on your GIO list.
1. Plan to mail out 25–30 letters a day for one week. You should have mailed ~200 letters at the end of a 7-day week.
2. Include a cover letter and resume requesting a meeting or phone call to discuss opportunities within the industry or the company.
3. In your letter, ask three questions about how to enter the industry, other people you can discuss how to be successful in the industry and what training and experience makes the person an ideal candidate.
B. Follow up on networking letters with phone calls to establish a networking meeting. This can be in person or over the phone.
C. Create networking questions, industry questions and opportunities to discuss at a networking meeting.
D. Set and conduct networking meeting. Send out thank yous and ask for 2–3 other contacts.
E. Set up informational interviews and company visits.
F. Revise, reversion and improve your resume and cover letter based on the information and feedback from the networking sessions.
G. Apply, interview and follow up with listed and potential job positions.
1. Once you apply, phone and email all of your contacts at that company to alert them to your application and ask for their assistance to get you an interview.
H. Update networking list with new information, new contacts and follow-up dates.
I. Evaluate and respond to job offers.
4. Improve Your Post-Military Career Search and Transition Plan
A. Rehearse interviewing and gather resume feedback at networking sessions.
B. Continue to update and add or delete opportunities on your GIO matrix.
1. Remove unsuccessful GIO combinations.
2. Add new opportunities.
C. Continue to update your network on your progress and any new needs.
D. Make any updates and changes to your Facebook and LinkedIn pages to reflect your resume and cover letter.
E. Continue to look for ways to fully translate your military skills to business to demonstrate your full range of potential.
1. Based on feedback from your networking sessions, look to translate your military experience and skill sets into areas that the company needs.
F. Continue to read, network and explore ways to create more options for your transition.
G. Follow up on applications and stay in contact with network for new opportunities.
Other Career Transition Considerations
1. Continue to work on budget and financial planning.
2. Health care plan.
3. VA disability applications.
4. GI Bill, or VA Chapter 31 applications.
5. Moving plan.
6. Spouse/partner career transition plan.
8. Emergency savings account.