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When is a good time to start contacting potential employers?



I don't want to wait until the last minuet to get my resume out there but I also don't want to contact employers to early while I have time left to serve. I still have right at 2 years left on contract with the Marines but I want a career already lined up before I get out. so when would be a good time to start making my contacts and showing interest in certain job opportunities?

26 April 2015 16 replies Military to Civilian Transition



James Celeski Farmington, MI

Based on the date of your post you should have about 18 months of military service left. I suggest prioritizing what is most important to you. Career field, job location or financial considerations. Do you have access to career fairs or job placement assistance currently? I recommend using these resources right away. Networking is also a very effective way of "opening doors" for the first interview. Reach out to your friends and family who may have contacts in your area of interest. Don't be shy about asking for their help in setting up initial introductions. Good Luck. Semper Fi.


Barbara Stern Boulder, CO

I'm not sure when you want to start working so that makes it a bit difficult in providing you with a timeline, however if you are seriously motivated, then there's no time like the present. Why haven't you gotten your resume together? Do you need some help in putting it together? If that's the case then contact me and I will review what you have and help you get it in front of the employers you are wanting to work for.
Best of luck.


Linda Weller Mars, PA

If you are still active duty 6 mos to 1 year before discharge. Networking is the key, 92% of all jobs are found through who you know. Build a network of business professionals who will become your advocate.


Pearlie Perryman Atlanta, GA

You can also send your resume to different recruiting agencies. They will keep your resume on file and you can tell them what your goals are in regards to timing. They will share you resume with different companies possibly a few months before your contract is up. If you are a good candidate, some companies will hold the position for you for a approximately 3 weeks while you are tying up your other obligations.


James Cummins

It depends on how you are approaching your job search. If you are simply looking to send out CVs and cover letters, then just make sure you are available for when the job starts. If you are looking at networking your way into a position, the best time to start is yesterday. Be honest; send an email to HR or your managerial contact and tell them about the transition you are looking to make and ask if they would be willing to talk to you about their company and/or industry. It isn't about landing a job the first time necessarily; what you are doing is getting to know the people and the facts behind the industry you are inquiring about. A lot of people are willing to take a few minutes to talk to you, and you will be receiving job-specific advice (every company tends to have its own culture around hiring or business practices). Companies will either hire you because you fit their hiring process, or because you inspire them/make them think you are a great asset. And you can't be seen as the second type unless you do something to get them on your side.


Jeffrey Camden Bradenton, FL

It's never too early. I keep all potential candidate resumes that impress me, including those that arent the skill set I normally require. I work for a large org and new openings come up all the time. Getting a good person on the larger team is as good as if they are on my own. Everytime I have an opening I go back through them. Or, when I hear of other departments needs and how they cant find good people I break it out again. Quality people and talent are hard to find. This will work best by doing research and finding empowered people with a military background and sending them your civilianized resume. You can google anybody for intel, look for the power brokers. Do not send your resume to the abyss of H.R. unless they recruit former military heavily. When sending your resume highlight that your military and they will at least read it. If its literate most professionals with military backgrounds will keep it.


Kelly Williams Newark, DE

We tell our clients to begin networking and attending job fairs at 18m prior to separation. Also take this time to develop a resume for yourself.

With your military background, you may want to consider federal employment.

1. You receive a preference during the hiring process (for most applications);
2. You can buy back your time towards retirement.

My company provides free resume critiques to all military service members. You can submit your resume to us via email or by using our secure online submission form:


Please allow 3-5 business days for completion.

We use two different formats for corporate and federal applications. I can send you examples of each to get you started.
Connect with me on LinkedIn:

Thank you for your service.

Warmest Regards,
Kelly Williams
Career Strategist & President
Security Cleared Careers
Expert Resume Solutions
Business: (732) 686-6455
Job Board:


John Dyck Spring, TX

Do not start contacting potential employers until you have a firm address. That is a residential address, not a P.O. Box or an FPO or APO address.

Also, not until you have separated from the military and are a civilian.

If a company wants to interview you they want to talk to you tomorrow. You need to be available for interviews now.

You also need to be available to start work now. Not 3 or 6 months from now.

Use the pre-separation time to research companies, build your list of contacts that you will contact when your are available, and sharpen your networking and interviewing skills.


Hank Pellegrini Newport Beach, CA

In my opinion, there is nothing more important than "connections". Friends, family, previous employers and your military brothers and sisters should all know what your aspirations are and what you have done and are doing to reach those. While it may be hard to volunteer or intern, anything you can do in your areas of interest will always help. When you can I would learn all you can online about your future field and begin joining clubs and associations in that area. As an employer i want to hire someone who knows his stuff even if he doesn't have "paid" experience. How many times have you heard of a friend getting a great job simply because he knows somebody? I hear it all the time. How about someone whose passion ends up being their career and they didn't even study for the career in school? That's my story! I worked hard at everything I did but in the end my passion and intimate knowledge of a sport led me into working in then owning sports related real estate. If I hadn't kept an open mind about careers I probably would have stuck with just trying to get some sort of "finance/business" job because that was my major in college. Good luck and don't leave any stone unturned. Confidence is key.


Tim Liberty Spring Hill, FL

I think you're getting some good advice already, but I wanted to add one little nugget. San Diego has a Young Professionals Group. That would be a good place to start networking and getting your name out there. Make some “looking for opportunities” business cards to hand out. These people are the future community and business leaders (hiring managers). Even if you decide to move out of the San Diego area, it will be good practice. Good luck.


Douglas Lavelle Chatham, NJ

The prep work you do is critical. As others have said, conduct your diligence, and connect-network with possible employers. I think you will be pleased with the opportunities that begin to surface. Many thanks for your service. Best of luck.



That information is very helpful. I appreciate the feedback from you all. Im seeing now where I can go from here and some areas I need to work on prior to my transition. thankyou all again for the insight.


Mark Buehlman Smithfield, VA

Michael- With 2 years out from transition, I would recommend researching and identifying career fields that interest you. As the others have stated, there are many places to do this; internet, LinkedIn, professional organizations/associations, anyone that you know who have already transitioned into that career field, informational interviews, career fairs, etc. Once you've identified the field, then start identifying the specific companies, in your transition location (may not be your current location). At this point, you can also start to build or expand your professional network within that career field, basically using the methods I previously mentioned. Having people in your network help you find jobs or refer you to those that have jobs is the best way to get a job.
I then recommend trying to go through the TAP course twice, at about the 1.5 year and 6-8 months out points. That when you'll be able start building all of your transition tools (resume, professional introduction, cover letter) and learn the proper techniques for today's job search. When you go through TAP the second time, you'll refine these products.
From your career field research, you'll find out when you should start applying. Usually, you can/should start about 6-8 months from your availability date.
Please contact me if you have any further questions or just want to discuss in more detail.
Good luck/Regards,


ROY VALE San Antonio, TX


I do agree with the previous answers and wanted to add the following:

1- think seriously about the geographical area or city you may be starting your new career at
2- having a career " lined up " is very powerful, ..I like your positive outlook. I would , if allowed, start to send online resumes to your most exciting connections
3- Find out the local veteran transition contacts in the area you are targeting for local fairs and contacts-- Best of search and thank you for your service


Bill Felice Springfield, PA

Hi Michael, I would suggest that you start building your resume as well as a cover letter that lists your key skills and accomplishments. I am not sure what you are allowed to do while still serving, but definitely check our Linked In, which is a tremendous site for building a presence to expose yourself to employers. Recruiters scour the site for candidates, and Company's, Organizations, etc., including the Marines, list jobs there. I would start working on profile and find out what you can post while still serving. Certainly as soon as you are allowed, put up a profile. You can also start researching firms that have careers that are of interest to you.
If you want to follow up directly or have additional questions, I'll send you my email. Thanks for your service and best of luck!


Karin Reidy Bethesda, MD

I see nothing wrong with starting to get your name out there. You will need to write a skillful cover letter to capture the attention of potential employers. Introduce yourself, explain your situation (dates availability) and state that you will be back in touch closer to the time you will be available. What I believe is even more important to your job search success will be to, going forward, make certain that anything you put "out there" in this job search is nothing short of perfect. While I am well aware that when you typed out this very question you took an informal approach, but in the future your text, for every single email, note, letter, etc., needs to be double checked for perfection. You are putting yourself out there as a potential employee and you want your best foot forward, always! Jobs can be tough to land. Do not do anything that may give those people doing the hiring a reason to pass right over your candidacy.
One other point. I believe it is terrific that you have started thinking about your future early. Use the time to do serious research. The more you read, the more well-versed you will be in any industry. You can never accumulate too much knowledge!
I wish only the very best of luck to you!

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