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How to Find a Career Path After Returning From the Military

Career Exploration

Thousands of service members finish their service commitment each year and enter the civilian labor force. Before leaving active duty, service members receive counseling to assist with reentry and provide information on the benefits available to them. If you've recently left the military and are pondering your next move, know that the skills and experience you've gained while in the service are valuable and marketable. Whether you choose to continue in your military training field or branch out into something different, the skills you acquired will help you in whatever path you choose. If you are looking to find your way, here are some tips to help you find a career path.

Access Your Background

Review the skills you've acquired and the positions you held in the military. Then consider your values, your needs, and what you are interested in. Contact your local Veterans Administration (VA) resource office to see what career counseling they can offer. You’ve gained a lot of experience and had a significant amount of training. Sometimes it helps to look over a career guide and see how your skills and experience translate to a position outside of the military. Perhaps you need additional education. Review a college catalog and see what requirements are needed for the degree or training program you desire. See if your local Veterans office offers career assessments, which can help identify some possible employment paths.

If furthering your education is desired or needed, inquire about any benefits that you may have available through the VA. Be mindful of application deadlines. Some Veterans are entitled to tuition assistance through various programs. After determining if you have any benefits available, perform an online search and look for scholarships. Consider filling in any gaps with student loans. Though every lender has qualification requirements, most student loans can be used for graduate school, medical school, technical schools, and less than full-time enrollment.

Apply for Government Jobs

Consider applying for a federal job. If you have a service-connected disability, you may receive points. This means if you take a required exam, as long as you pass, extra points are added to your score. This helps in hiring for those jobs with exam requirements since those organizations hire entry-level employees by score. The US Postal Service hires military personnel for several positions, and the company has great advancement opportunities. Utilize the Veteran's Employment and Training Service. USA provides federal job postings.

Update Your Resume

Spend some time and update your resume. Resumes have changed, and some of the things that once were standard are no longer required. New sections such as social media profiles can be added. In addition to your Veteran resources, some state job service programs offer resume assistance. Libraries have books and resources also available.

Highlight the skills and experience you gained in your military service. Employers value those skills. When completing your work experience section, it helps to use the action/result method. Identify the tasks you performed and provide the outcome, such as what you've learned or accomplished by performing the task.


Utilize the contacts you made in the military for job leads and to gain insight into companies that favor Veterans. Sometimes various VA branches have social clubs which allow you to socialize with others who can understand your experience and help you translate it into civilian employment. Don’t discount your civilian connections. Let others know that you are back in town and what you are seeking.

Once you’ve left the military, it can take time to figure out what you want to do next. There are options. Contact the local Veterans resource center or utilize the VA information online. You’ve learned valuable skills while you were in the military. In addition to specialized training, discipline and follow-through are qualities employers seek. You’ve proven you have the tenacity and follow through. Be proud of what you accomplished and use it to your advantage as you move on to your next adventure.

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