Four Things to Do Before You Retire From the Military

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When it’s time to retire, the military provides you with a stack of paperwork, lots of classes and dozens of to-do blocks to check off. And while those things are important, there are a few items you may want to spend some extra time on before you hang up your uniform.

Tip 1: Get your medical situation squared away.

There are a number of medical evaluations you’ll need to complete before you retire. These evaluations are essential for two reasons: one, it helps determine your level of disability and two, everything needs to be documented for future care. Tell your doctor about all of your health concerns from sleeplessness to a lingering cough. The goal is to have a full view of your health when you retire. It’s also recommended that you request a copy of your medical records months in advance and double check them to ensure they’ve been properly updated.

Tip 2: Build your resume early.

While many of the tasks you completed in the military are technical, complicated and praiseworthy, they don’t always translate to a civilian resume. Many civilian companies are not familiar with military jargon so take the time to translate your military accomplishments into ones that are easily understood by those without military experience. Take advantage of the resume classes that are offered through the military and ask someone on the civilian side to review it for accuracy and clarity. Sultan Camp, an Orion International military recruiter, also recommends taking your resume to your local university’s English department to have it reviewed for proper grammar. Once your resume is ready, start applying for jobs. It doesn’t take long to hit the apply button, but it can take weeks to get a response so build yourself a nice buffer by applying early.

Tip 3: Fix your social media presence.

If you’re ignoring the world of social media, you may as well lug out your old typewriter and retire for good. In a 2012 Jobvite survey, 92 percent of companies reported using LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter for job recruiting. Remember to keep all of your social media accounts professional, which means no profanity, references to illegal drug use or photos of you consuming alcohol. Also, make sure you’re using proper grammar and spelling words correctly. A recruiter will judge your 140-character tweet the same way as a bullet on your resume.

Tip 4: Decide if you want a retirement ceremony.

While this isn’t essential to retirement, it does require some thought. Decide early on if you want to have a retirement ceremony to give yourself enough planning time. Guest speakers are often senior leaders and you may need to schedule your ceremony around their cramped schedules. You’ll also need to send out invites four to six weeks in advance, especially if you’re inviting family and friends who live out-of-town. Then there’s cake, refreshments, booking a venue, a back-up speaker, a band – you get the picture. The ceremony can be as large or small as you want, but planning it early is the way to go.

In the end, taking some extra time to focus on things like your resume, social media accounts and health can really pay off when your retirement date rolls around. By starting early and staying driven, you’ll set yourself up for success as you transition to your new civilian life.

Jennifer Cary is a freelance writer, blogger and former government employee. You can visit her website here.

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