I made the decision to not re-enlist. What next? The decision to not re-enlist is a life changing decision. You will be hanging up the uniform for civilian work which is a completely different mentality from what your used too. Understanding that life will be different is the first step in the process.

What Do You Want to Do When You Exit the Military? I had a 1SG ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up? I always responded to him with I don’t know. Now I understand what he was asking. He wanted to know what my plan was after the military. Example: Just because you were an 11B doesn’t mean you are only capable of a few specific jobs. Think of all the training you have had during your military career. My MOS was 54B (Chemical) and I made my way up to the Vice President of maintenance. What does my chemical background have to do with maintenance? Very little is the answer. But, my leadership courses like PLDC, motor pool experience, etc. taught me to think outside the box and do something that I enjoy. DON’T SELL YOURSELF SHORT!

I don’t know the first thing about building a resume: Take advantage of the transition classes that each military branch has. The hardest part of a resume is building the foundation. Once you have your experience listed, the rest is easy.

MOS To Civilian Language on your resume: I have heard both sides when it comes to military vs. civilian vocabulary. When you apply for a position that the hiring manager was not in the military, it will just confuse them. Example: If your MOS was a 19K (Tanker) and you listed out about tracks, pulling pack, small arms and gunneries, unless the company had someone who served that could translate to what you can bring to the table, most likely this would be a NO-GO. Now, compare to writing leadership, assisted with mechanical opportunities, handled HR opportunities, etc. which the hiring manager would understand.   

Don’t exaggerate on your resume: Too many times I have seen where resumes are exaggerated when it comes to experience. When a company either starts asking questions during the interview process or they complete a background check, the truth will come out. Example: If you are a mechanic but have not turned a wrench because you were either a training NCO, worked in a S1 shop or worked at the motor pool as the administrator for paperwork and accepted a job turning a wrench which you over sold yourself, it will come to life quickly and most likely end employment. Be honest and build your resume to the jobs you held during your career in the service along with actual rank held. This looks better on a resume because you can multi task.

I attended a job fair at my base on the east coast but am looking to move back home to the west coast. All the companies are more centrally located for east coast positions: “Most” companies are only visiting the closest base to hire veterans for their company while few companies travel all over the United States. This is where we assist veterans and transitioning veterans find their career opportunity where they want to call “home”.

I have an interview scheduled. What questions if any should I ask? Interviews are a time when company and the individual meet to see if there is a connection. A good leader for a company will make an agenda that he/she will follow. This includes questions concerning experience, past positions held along with understanding why you are interested in the position they have open. It is human nature to be nervous before and during an interview. What I always tell veterans is that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Towards the end of the interview, the manager “should” ask you if there are any questions you would like to ask. This is your opportunity to interview them. Questions that I would ask: What is the salary range for this position? You need to know if you are in the same zip code when it comes to money for your services. If you think the position is going to pay 65k a year and they tell you the starting pay is 30k, then you would be disappointed. Another question is, what is your benefit package? This will allow then to discuss all benefits including health insurance, 401k, profit sharing, stock options or bonus programs. All companies’ benefits packages vary so take notes to review after the meeting ultimately making the best decision.

A company called and scheduled an interview. Do I need to research anything before attending the interview? ABSOLUTELY! I highly recommend looking at the companies’ website, Facebook page and research, research and research. This will also provide you information for potential questions for your interview.

You Are a Veteran. Stand Tall! You are a veteran who has made sacrifices during your military career. Having the title “Veteran” is something that you will carry the rest of your life. Yes, you will be tested in the civilian workforce but never forget where you came from and that you can overcome any hurdles standing in your way!