While civilians may hop from one job to the next, military members have a different process of leaving behind their job in search of another. The process is different because it’s not just a job that the military leave behind, but a way of life. The resounding feedback from veterans has been that preparation and connections have made all the difference. It’s challenging to live in a state of planned transition for a long time, but mindset and planning can be a key differentiator in the process.

7 Tips for Making Your Military Transition

At ClearanceJobs, we meet a lot of veterans who have shared their thoughts about the transition process. Whether you have just six months or two years to head towards separating from the military, the ClearanceJobs editorial team have some top tips that we’ve collected along the way.

1. Check out the Transition Assistance Program (TAP).

TAP has been set up to be a resource for military members and their families so that they are set up to make the transition. So, attend the traditional seminars, but also keep your eye open for all the additional workshops that are offered outside of TAP.

2. Think of your transferrable skills.

This is one of those time consuming tasks, and it’s best done as you go through the military. Explain what you do to a kid or teenager in your life. If they can understand your word choices, then write those down. Frankly, this is a task that everyone should do – military or not. Resumes would be clearer if we all took the time to do this. But narrow down what you do – and what you WANT to do. And then communicate those skills clearly on your resume.

3. Network with veteran friendly employers.

Some companies say they want to hire veterans, and then some companies actually show that they want to hire veterans. Whether or not you wind up working for a company who goes above and beyond with veterans in their workforce, networking with them in the process can give you valuable knowledge and a leg up no matter where you land.

4. Connect with already separated vets who can possibly mentor you.

Most of the time, we don’t have a mentor because we haven’t taken that important step of asking someone. Most times, separated veterans are willing to share what did and didn’t work for them. Getting advice from someone who has walked a similar role as you can go a long way in smoothing out the transition process.

5. Listen to podcasts and read military leadership books.

Even if you’re in a remote location, the beauty of this current day and age is that you can sit back and read or listen to writers and podcasters on their military transition process. You may not have a current mentor, but you can track along with other public mentors about succeeding with your transition.

6. Play up your strengths and what being a veteran brings to the corporate table.

Be careful that you never undersell the value of being a veteran. In national security, you bring an experienced perspective to the table that’s needed. Valuing your veteran status isn’t asking for a red carpet to be rolled out; it’s just placing value where it’s deserved. So, be sure you articulate your strengths and what your perspective as a veteran brings.

7. Become best friends with cleared recruiters and headhunters.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to cleared recruiters and headhunters. Build a relationship with them, keeping them up-to-date on your separation status. You may not be a great fit for each other, but you may be able to connect them with someone who is. So, take the time to build those relationships.

The Most Important Thing You Can Do in Your Military Transition

Sometimes, the hardest thing to think through is where you actually want to live and what you actually want to do. It may sound like an easy answer, but it’s hard question when you’re used to always adapting. But when your separation is ahead, start thinking about where you want to put down roots, and then look at what companies are located in that area. The need to pay bills is real, but it’s important to start thinking about your own personal likes and dislikes. So, keep up with your networking, but pay attention to what you personally find important and lean into that.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.