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What Service Members Need to Know About Employment

You’re closing the chapter on your military life and opening a new one. This means transitioning from being a soldier to a civilian employee in a company, nonprofit organization or maybe the government. As a service member, you have many resources available to help you with this significant change. Here’s an overview of what you need to know as you seek employment.

Explore your career path

There’s a difference between a job and a career. One pays the bills — the other gives you a sense of meaning and accomplishment.

Finding a career that matches your skills and interests is the key to job satisfaction. Invest some time in a little soul-searching before you begin your search to make sure you’re going down the right path. CareerOneStop offers tools for job searching, training, and information about careers and industries.

Credential your military experience

Your military experience has given you training that converts to skills in the civilian world. The COOL program helps you translate your training into civilian credentials and speak better to what employers are looking for. Here are links to individual service branch programs:

Build your resume

How do you condense your entire military history, skills and knowledge onto one piece of paper? These tips will help you build a resume that will stand out.

  • Collect your assets. Get a copy of your Verification of Military Experience and Training through the Department of Defense.
  • Include essential components like contact information, job objective, summary of qualifications, employment history, education and training, and special skills.
  • Tailor your resume for the job. Translate everything into civilian terms and include volunteer experience.
  • Write a cover letter. Get the name of the person in charge of hiring, keep it to one page and always follow up.
  • Tap into resume-building tools. Check out Veterans.gov and Vets.gov.

Find the right civilian job

Your military experience is valuable to many employers, but it’s up to you to get out there and sell it. Start with these tips:

  • Network. Get in touch with friends and fellow veterans. Organize your contacts and connections.
  • Tap into the services of your transition assistance offices. Get referrals for employment agencies and recruiters, job leads and career counseling.
  • Hit job fairs. Look for upcoming events to meet potential employers.
  • Look for veteran-friendly companies. Many organizations are committed to helping veterans find a good job. Look for programs such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring Our Heroes initiative. Check out organizations like Soldier for Life, Marine for Life, the Military Officers Association of America, Non-Commissioned Officers Association or Enlisted Association, and United Service Organizations.

Identify resources and benefits

You want to have a successful transition to a good job. The military and the U.S. government want you to have it too. Check out these employment benefits and assistance programs available before and after you leave the military. Review some of the top services and programs offered by the military and the government, focused on jobs for veterans and helping you find your new career.

Match your military skills to civilian jobs, find transition resources, and start your military-to-civilian job search with the resources and information provided above. Check out all the resources for employment on Military OneSource.