Transitioning Careers - Military to Civilian

Transitioning careers can be a challenging task. Transitioning from a military career to a civilian career may be more complex.


Transitioning careers, especially when you are in your late middle-aged years can be a stressful endeavor. You have to assess your value with respect to the current market place. You begin to look for something more stable in terms of a steady income. You are getting older and competing with people a generation or more younger than you who potentially have more skills, specifically technical skills, that are more to the to the liking of business wanting to expand their profit margins and operational reach.

If you are transitioning from the military to the civilian world, you have additional challenges. I experienced this myself more than concerns expressed in the aforementioned paragraph.

Military persons are not used to selling themselves, and justifying their own value at the expense of others in terms salary and compensation. Employers play on this sense of humility, even former military members who are now business leaders. I observed this in person myself…don’t fall for it.

I found myself missing camaraderie; seeing associates hold themselves accountable for shortfalls; developing team members and subordinates to become better performers and better people to work with. There’s more, but these are just some of the biggest changes. These changes come with some razor cuts and blood-letting…you learn how to survive on the streets…without a team at your back…securing and justifying your own existence where God and country are automatically made subordinate.

As a military member, you are transitioning cultures and societies with a different optic on life and relationships. You must understand this in order to move forward.

So the first challenges you must really deal with are embedded internal known systems, such as the following:

·      Recognize who you really are as a person and in terms of values; then correlating and applying those observations to the outside world in a way that is value-added. This may sound too esoteric for some, but here are a few examples.
o   Take initiative to excel whenever opportunities surface, to include creating a self-education program. At the same time, being self-aware and socially aware of your actions and their impacts on your local environment. Some people will appreciate your energy and you may be promoted, or justify the employer retaining you. Other people may see you as a threat (competition), whereby you need to begin watching your back to potential subversive actions, and adapting to potential subversion with carefully applied interpersonal skills and social intelligence.
o   You need to prove you are adaptive, able to learn and grow. This may mean starting from a low position and slowly working your way back up the chain of influence you once achieved.
o   Being a team player and building teams. You likely know how to motivate and lead people into action…leading to highly functional teams.  
o   You are your own command structure:
§   You are your own S1 (Administration),
§  S2 (Intelligence/Marketing/Competitive Analysis/SWOT),
§  S3 (Operations/Planning/Execution/Metrics/Training),
§  S4 (Logistics/Resource application and Managements) and
§  S6 (Communications- interpersonal and technical). You know how functioning systems work, how to create and shape systems, and how to allow systems to run on their own without being micro-managed.
§  Medical – you have to take care of yourself emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.
Apply this knowledge and expertise as opportunities surface over time.


These are just some considerations when preparing to transition jobs, specifically if you are military. There’s more that I hope to add later.

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