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I would like advice on transitioning from military jobs.


Sarah Hobson San Antonio, TX

I completed my MBA in August and am struggling to find work outside of the military/DoD systems.

8 December 2019 40 replies Career Advancement



Michael Stehn Alexandria, VA


Can you please let us know what you are interested in doing and where you want to work (location) I would also say if you are not already working on increasing your network, you need to work on that as well. I find most jobs these days are filled with people who refer others to their companies, so network and chat with people out there about their companies and employment. Do you want a job vs a career is another question you need to ask yourself. Once you identify what you want to do and where you want to do it, network in that industry and location.

16 December 2019 Helpful answer


Gary Slyman Annapolis, MD

Start with the school where you just completed your MBA and visit their career services department. Get a meeting with a career counselor followed by a career transition coach. They will assist you with developing a systematic plan tailored just for you as well as resume and interview support.

Ask them for resources for veterans making a career transition. There are a number of organizations that provide career transition services or job fairs at no or reduced costs.

18 January 2020 Helpful answer


Jerry Welsh Middleville, MI

Hi Sarah,
If recruiters search for an employee this is what they would find you as, Production And Maintenance Manager at 149th TANG! Are you looking for work in operations, supervisory maintenance, medical operations, civilians search for careers. The first thing they see is you USAF, next your summary is seeking advice not telling them your accomplishments and what value you bring. Civilians do not understand NCOIC, they know supervisor or manager, and then the keywords of the career you are seeking. Please follow Michael Quinn, Ernst & Young about marketing your self and look at Mark Broc, MA, PMP and Domonick Stewarts profiles. You will see Mark and Domonick direct everything to their career.
One of the positives is San Antonio has one of the highest retired military groups in the country. Have you requested a mentor from ACP? Are you on Premium? Premium offers a large amount of classes on how to use LinkedIn to market yourself- then you should have a lot of questions of what career do I want to market, what are the keywords, what are the metrics that industry looks at, how many of my EPR's show quantifiable results that with proper language will meet those needs. An MBA is a great accomplishment, but today there are a lot of MBA candidates, who are using the correct language and keywords to receive call backs. Also work on Information Interviewing(Google a couple of articles) on how to do. Also prior to doing that create a couple of elevator pitches about what you excel at in civilian language.
You may think I am telling you to re-write your entire profile. My hope is that after research and a career focus you will see why it needs to be changed. Thank you for your service and God Bless. Hope this article helps.

9 December 2019 Helpful answer


Michael Gumeny Nutley, NJ

Hi Sarah. You've gotten a lot of responses, but I would just like to support what Michael Stehn mentioned about networking. Early in my career all of my jobs were found using a recruiter, but things have change and my last 2 jobs were found via network contacts, i.e., someone who know someone who knew me. It's worth reaching out and connecting to people on LinkedIn and in the location and industry in which you are interested.

Best of luck! And thank you for your service!


Jose Roman Norfolk, VA

Hello Sarah,

A lot of great advice. Make sure you have taken advantage of two things.
1) LinkedIn Premium for FREE while searching for your next career.
2) Sign up for the FREE ACP Mentorship. Great opportunity to connect with someone that can help with your career search.

3) Start with the Career Center at your university and the alumni of your school, connect with them on LinkedIn and see where they're using their MBAs and the industries and companies represented there.


Esteban Castellanos Los Angeles, CA

Hi Sarah, I experienced the is frustrating. Do That will place you in the middle of (commercial) tech. That is how you break free from the gravitational pull of DoD / Govt related roles. I wish I knew about it when I was finishing up my MBA as well.


Victoria Heck Centreville, VA

Hi Sarah,
I was a military spouse for 19 years and now a Recruiter. I'd like to connect on LinkedIn and continue the conversation, I'd be happy to assist: . Thanks!


Joseph Cook San Antonio, TX


Thanks for your service and I am also a 24 year Air Force veteran. If you like let’s please connect on LinkedIn or you can email me at


Kyle Lautzenhiser Lillington, NC


If you would like, connect with me on LI, and with that I cannot understate the value of networking on LI. My last two jobs came from networking in Veteran communities on LI. Very powerful tool if used correctly.



Dejah Vaughn Panama City Beach, FL

Hi! Why don’t you work for yourself? Email me if you would like to chat



Timothy Zysk Reno, Nv, NV

Check into TEACHING ROTC in a USAF program. It is very rewarding, pays well, and has lots of benefits (emotional, fiscal, and personal). There are regular openings in schools throughout the country. They were short last year in RENO for the whole year for a former enlisted USAF person to teach, but found one late in the year.


Danny Davidson Killeen, TX

I personally would go to USA jobs. I served 12 years and got out with a government job it only cost me $10,280 to buy back my retirement. You will get veteran preference and even disability preferences if you made your a claim. All you need to do is edit resume for each individual job you apply for.


Jim Rohrbach Evanston, IL

Hi Sarah! I'll be happy to review your resume and share some job search ideas. Email me:


Charles Schwable Temple, GA

Good Morning Sarah,
I have been out for quite awhile, but in my college and working skills, I have been a licensed contractor in the electrical, HVAC trade and paralegal, which I learned to check out veteran's job fairs, airports, job markets in your profession and area of Texas, I am in the Atlanta area which has been booming since I've been here in 1981, so good luck with your endeavours.


Jeff Martin Ashburn, VA

Here are some thoughts / ideas to consider:

* Make sure your resume is in civilian speak and not military speak. You might even hire a professional resume writer to help rewrite your resume.

* you need to tailor your resume for specific roles and companies, focusing on their specific needs and their business more than just on your previous experience.

* create a simple marketing plan for yourself and your career search to help keep you focused on your goals.

* reach out to recruiters and ask them to help you network. In exchange for their help, you can help those recruiters find candidates for roles they are working on but that aren’t a good fit for you.

* connect with professionals on LinkedIn, especially those in the career field or companies that you are interested in and ask them if you can tap into their network and ask if they can help you market yourself.

Hope this helps and good luck!


thomas walsh Manassas, VA

Greetings, two quick suggestions that worked for me. First, work with the local/state employment agencies. If you are lucky they may have someone on staff who specializes in former military transitioning to the civilian world. Along the same lines, search USAJOBS to get details on what's available as a federal civilian employee. Second, find associations in your chosen field and see if they don't offer pro-bono services to small organizations. You won't get paid but can build up quite a resume pretty quick. I hope these ideas help & feel free to volley back with questions. Take care & enjoy!!!! TCW


Jeffrey Legendre Leesville, LA

Are you struggling to find work? Or are you struggling to match your military pay? One of the biggest misconceptions about transitioning military personnel is what the actual civilian market is paying. I was a 22yr retired O3 and could get a ton of 35 to 40k yr jobs. But when I was trying to make 60 a year there were none. So look at the opportunity and not the starting pay (if you can) or just draw the salerly line in the sand and move to where the job is. Otherwise it’s rough out there and it’s a Who You know Job market. Hope this doesn’t sound negative its not meant to be. Jeff


Chaz Wellington Las Vegas, NV

Reach out to me at


Matthew Hutcherson San Diego, CA

Sarah, please send me what opportunities you are looking for.



Contact USAA in San Antonio. They are great folks with a wonderful company. Apply for a job in Purchasing. Start at the bottom and prove yourself capable of advancement.
Frank Tepedino


ROY VALE San Antonio, TX

I have some similar thoughts as Jerry. But I will add this. - I was never in the military but my gratitude and endless thanks go your way and all other veterans and service individuals. I spend a little time trying to help in what way I can on this program.

So, remember that folks like me don't understand your background and language. I believe you should mention all your talents and skills from a totally different perspective. I would also recommend two separate resumes/presentations. Military back ground and regular.

Think about it this way, If you were going to talk to a 1st grader about your experience and skills, how would you explain it? Now, simply and smoothly elevate it with the same
"theme" in mind. roy


ROY VALE San Antonio, TX

I have some similar thoughts as Jerry. But I will add this. - I was never in the military but my gratitude and endless thanks go your way and all other veterans and service individuals. I spend a little time trying to help in what way I can on this program.

So, remember that folks like me don't understand your background and language. I believe you should mention all your talents and skills from a totally different perspective. I would also recommend two separate resumes/presentations. Military back ground and regular.

Think about it this way, If you were going to talk to a 1st grader about your experience and skills, how would you explain it? Now, simply and smoothly elevate it with the same
"theme" in mind. roy


Henry ("Dr. Hank") Stevens Fort Lauderdale, FL

VERY short answer - only alluded to in the above: Step back and identify tour talents. Then, play to those talents with a career choice. Check out this free web site to get started:

If you need help interpreting it or just want to discuss - feel free to ask. Dr. Hank


Jo Prabhu Long Beach, CA

Hi Sarah,

You have many answers to choose from but finding the right job is an issue that is shared with me on a daily basis x multiple times for the past 20 years!

I suggest you first evaluate your own needs against what you are looking for:

1. Are you looking for PT or FT?
2. Are you seeking to start a new career or first find a job that will pay the bills.
3. What are your inherent skills and priorities? Are you a people person, are you computer and internet savvy, do you like to work from home or an office, do you like an 8-5 or an anytime job?

To help you find answers while also getting paid, I suggest you sign up with a local temp agency and take on various assignments in a variety of Industries to help you decide what makes you want to wake up each morning: Try being Receptionist, Data Entry, Front or Back-Office helper, take on any job just to get a feel of the energy and observe the environment you would like to be in and decide a job Title to match your personality! FYI, many companies like to hire valued temps and many agencies release their 'temps' to their clients after a transition period.

I was a temp myself for awhile only to happily learn that I am not a Corporate person. So I learned what I could as a temp, then started my own Recruitment Business. I love working from home, being there for my kids and grand kids, love the flexibility of working remotely while also being available to help people find jobs-which is what I have done for 20+ years to this day. And loving it!

I hope this helps.


Michael Fisher Blacksburg, VA

I transitioned from service 3 months ago. From ACP and several other organizations I learned very valuable lessons that enabled me to land a very good job. I would be very happy to share those lessons learned and help you any way I can.
We can talk on phone or Skype, whichever is more convenient for you.


Paul Klikas Raleigh, NC

Hi Sarah,

Thank you for your service to our nation, if you haven’t already I would recommend the following:

Start networking at local and state functions.

Volunteer with a group that you are dedicated to it’s success, not only will you feel successful you will also network with others in the industry you are seeking.

Ensure your resume has the language recruiters in your line of work would be looking for.

Best of luck.



Shane Metz Maple Valley, WA

Hi Sarah,

I retired from the Army 6 years ago, and would like to help you. Everyone has provided great advice. If you would like please contact my through LinkedIn and we can get started.

Shane Metz


Hans Dochtermann Apex, NC


Does your MBA program offer any career management services? Have you used them? Most MBA programs (and law schools) are very sensitive to graduates who have not found middle-to-high paying jobs. When it comes to rankings, the more graduates without work after having paid for a degree, the lower they are ranked.

Additionally, just like ACP, Veterati, and other programs encourage you to conduct informational interviews with veterans at companies and in fields you are interested in, do the same for alumni of your MBA program. Either find a field or find a location that you're interested in, do a search on LinkedIn, and reach out.

If you haven't done any informational interviews, start with Veterati first: there are plenty of vets there willing to talk to you. After that, branch out and be bold! I cold emailed (via LinkedIn) vets at companies I was interested in and had about a 60% success rate at least getting them to reply back and about a 30% success rate of getting them on the phone.

If you don't know what to talk about, there are a slew of lists of informational interview questions that you can use to start with. Also, when you finish the interview, ask if they'd be willing to give you their impressions of your resume (not review: impressions). I've found that successful veterans in the business world provide better advice in this area than civilians as we're a bit more willing to be tough with our fellow vets. Asking for their impression takes the pressure off of them having to "review" your resume... some will mark it up in red pen, others will write a few sentences.

Good luck!


Sarah Armstrong Wayne, PA

Sarah - you care a great candidate to check out EF Legion for their opportunities. Check them out at
You have very marketable skills. Make sure you let everyone know you are looking for a new opportunity. Think about the industry you would like to be involved with - energy, consulting, technology, etc., and that will help focus your search.

All the best - Sarah


William (Bill) Moraza South Windsor, CT

Dear Sarah,
As you proceed in your job search, keep in mind that a resume and a cover letter are simply vehicles to get a face- to face meeting. (not a job)

Therefore I think you should inform your prospect about your military service, but keep away from too many specifics. For example, instead of mentioning your secret clearance, emphase stewardship and trustworthiness as a part of an accomplishment.

I'd be happy to review your documents if you wish.

Feel free to email me at


Eli Blackhouse Randolph, ME

I hear and second the points about implementing familiar terms with potential employers (i.e., using terms of art common to business as opposed to mil.) and staying within the DOD infrastructure.

In recent months, DHS (Homeland Security, not the other one) was aggressively hiring for a seemingly unprecedented number of vacant seats, and I believe "former military" had been specifically earmarked as a desirable cred. My advice? Stay at! and keep networking through ACP, etc.

Eli (lawyer/chaplain)


Jeff Westling Virginia Beach, VA

Sarah, there are many opportunities for veterans to serve outside the military and defense contractor enterprises. There are several questions you must first answer for yourself to engage in a meaningful career search:

1) What specific skills and expertise do you bring to the table? These are based on your total package of skills, knowledge, training, education, experience and expertise.

2) If money were no object, what would you like to do that would energize you every day? What are you passionate about?

3) Is there a specific geographic area you want to settle? Are there any geographic areas you want to avoid?

Once you answer those questions, I recommend looking at public, private and non-profit sectors that align with your answers. Local / regional chambers of commerce are a great source of information as to what companies exist in the geographic area that might align with your desires and passions. From there, I would focus a search on LinkedIn to identify people in your extended network that are in business lines that align with your passions who can guide you to the desired roles and functions. Many of us are well connected in our disciplines nationwide and in some cases worldwide. Additionally connect with people in your extended network in the locality where you want to settle. They may be able to help make connections to others in your intended area that have positions (filled or open) in your desired career field who can provide insight and counsel.


Jeremy Hawks Cabin John, MD

Sarah, Jerry's advice is spot on. If you pivot from the DoD, you have to change your marketing approach. Most military folks bring two major skills to the table, regardless of their certifications and education: leadership and project management. You may want to focus on that, learning to speak to those skills in civilian terms. Always speak (in non-military terms) to how you can fulfill the needs of your potential employer, not the jobs you've had in the past.

One question, though. Why move out of the DoD space? Its been your career to date, making it the industry that you're most qualified in. By changing, you may hurt your earning potential.

Good luck and relax as best you can. You WILL get hired.


Shawn Sipprell San Francisco, CA


I would look into consulting. In this realm you have the opportunity to not only work with DOD/DOS and other government agencies, but also the ability to venture out into other non-government companies. There are a ton of consulting agencies which have huge veteran hiring incentives and teams dedicated to bringing on veterans to the organization. Accenture, the company I currently work for has committed to hiring 5000 veterans by the end of next year. Here's some info:

We have offices globally, our Strategy practice will likely be the best fit for somebody like you with an MBA.

Best of luck!



Contact USAA in San Antonio. They are a fine company. Seek to start in the Purchasing Department - for whatever they offer - even a Junior Buyer position. Start there. Tell them that you can do "the job" and are willing to start there to show your abilities and skills. I used to know the executives there but they have perhaps already retired.

Good luck.
PS Have you ever thought about Law School? Imagine, a vet., a women, a hard worker, with an MBA PLUS a JD! (That is Senior Vice President material).

Frank Tepedino


MUrat Dorkan Pikesville, MD

Happy to help. Positioning yourself depends on what type of position you’re looking for in the civilian world. Also you want to give thought to what type of work do you want to do with your background and history then there are any companies that we can help direct you to that are veteran friendly and can help you prosper. The first thing is finding your passion. We are happy to help you.

Your skills and training are in high demand in the workforce and once you have a refined resume explaining all of your strong skill sets, you can post your resume on job sites like indeed etc. and begin to penetrate the civilian workforce. In doing so you want to do as much as you can and giving thought to your passions on what would excite you going forward and steer your resume and your application process in that direction.


Steve Adolt Lancaster, PA


Having an MBA and selling that additional MBA skill set to a potential employer are two very different things.

I expect in your case, the MBA added to and refined your skill set and now you need to demonstrate the way this improved what you probably already knew.

Would love to have a conversation with you about this. I've been helping vets in your situation for over 25 years and I may know a thing or two about a thing or two. :)

Please let me know if you're interested in a discussion.




Robert Collom Lawrenceville, GA


Here are a few obvious things to consider. Post your resume on the "Indeed" job search web site so that those looking for your experience can find you. Widen your job search area as far as you are comfortable.

Consider your dream job and research what you need to obtain it. Don't get side tracked just chasing the money. The money will come quickly if you are doing what you love.

Remember that your military experience is in high demand. Punctuality, character, drive, determination are all attributes greatly lacking in the work force. Any employer would find you an excellent addition to their team.


Jim Schreier Milwaukee, WI

I would like to first, echo the other answers you've received. Then I'll add to those suggestions. Most of what you do for your career search/transition needs to focus on "what you've done" not "what you have." Your question, "completed my MBA" triggered a strong response that I've had too many questions on this forum. It's a common issue but I'm seeing it very common among many serving or transitioning -- focusing on the "haves" not the "done's." You have a degree, you have awards, you have skills! But organizations are interested in what you can DO for them -- so what have you done -- with your skills, with your experiences, with your learning?

I'm always happy to review materials -- resumes, letters, LinkedIn profiles, etc.


Ed Jasper Pittsboro, NC

Good question, and one that is very similar to the transition from being in the military to the civilian workforce. Based on your question, here are a few thoughts.

Have you really targeted the area outside of DOD job you are looking at, or are you still exploring multiple areas? If you have not found the areas./careers you want to target, I think that is your first step. I believe it is appropriate to have 2-3 specific areas of concentration, but if you have not narrowed it down yet, potential employers will also have trouble narrowing it down too when they look at your resume or after potentially speaking to you,

Have you placed any limitations on your job search? Are you willing to relocate? Have you determined your salary requirements. Depending on how flexible you can be, that can help establish how big a net you can cast looking for a new position.

You may have already figured this all out, but if not, I think spending energy targeting a career in the area you want, and understanding your limitations around relocation and salary will really help you have a focused approach moving onto the next position.

I know this advice is sort of generic, but I have spoken to others recently that have just completed an advanced degree. They often mention that they had hope/planned for the degree to open doors for them. The common theme in these discussions when I have asked folks "what do you want to to do?" .... they often struggle to articulate what they really want to do. Figuring that out seems to be the first step.

Good luck on your transition!

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