5 Tips to Prepare for Your Post-Military Career

Find civilian jobs after military serviceWhether you have two years or two months left in your military career, you may be thinking about how you’ll make a successful transition into the civilian workplace. And while there are private sector employers – like Starbucks and UPS – that are proactive in their recruitment of former military personnel, the reality is that veterans have a higher unemployment rate compared to the non-military population1. Despite this, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself for a successful transition.

Take Action Now

The often given career advice, “Look for a job when you don’t need one,” is a good recommendation considering 15.3 percent of all unemployed job seekers may spend up to a year looking for work2. Don’t procrastinate when it comes to planning your transition from the military to private sector work. Start as early as you can, taking steps to assess your skills and interests, research potential career paths and develop your professional network.

Update Your Resume

A compelling and up-to-date resume is a necessary tool to find a civilian job. Depending on your circumstances, it may have been years since you last updated your resume or maybe you never had the need to create one. Begin the process of writing or refreshing your resume now – keeping in mind that you must translate your military experience into “corporate speak.” This means scaling back military jargon and translating your experience into language that appeals to civilian employers.

Build Your Network

Applying blindly for jobs posted online is one strategy for finding work, but may not be the most effective approach. Recruiters receive hundreds, sometimes thousands, of resumes each day, so the chances that your resume will stand out can be small. A more effective way to rise above the crowd is to develop a powerful, professional network with people who can offer you a personal introduction to a potential employer. It’s important that you build your network early. You don’t want to ask for a job within the first few months of a new professional relationship. Take time to get to know the people in your network, provide value to them, and then, when the opportunity presents itself you can be in a position to get a solid job lead.

Access Military Resources

There are many initiatives to support former military servicemembers entering the civilian workforce. Be sure to tap into those resources to gather information about potential career paths, participate in networking opportunities and get career advice. Here is a short list of resources available:

Get Your Education

National statistics indicate that those with a college degree have historically had a better chance of earning a higher salary than those without a degree3. This is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics4 that also shows that historically those with a college degree are less likely to be unemployed. Depending on the career path you choose, earning your college degree can be a smart choice. In an internal study conducted at CTU, we found the following 10 degrees to be the most popular degree programs among CTU military students5:

If a college degree is in your future, then there are more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and concentrations to choose from at CTU. Discover the possibilities at And as a military friendly university, we have a dedicated team ready to support you in getting your education as you work towards making a successful transition into your civilian career.

1Source: Employment Situation of Veterans Summary, March 2014, reports 9.0 percent unemployment rate for veterans (; overall unemployment rate for same period, March 2014, was 6.7 percent ( – retrieved 12/11/14.
2Source: How long before the unemployed find jobs or quit looking?
3Source: Employment Projections (retrieved 12/11/14)
4Source: BLS
5Source: Top Programs for Military Students one-sheet (PDF)

Disclaimer: All statistics are national historical averages and may differ based on region and work experience. This post is intended for informational purposes only. CTU makes no guarantees as to third-party resources.

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