Please upgrade your web browser

These pages are built with modern web browsers in mind, and are not optimized for Internet Explorer 8 or below. Please try using another web browser, such as Internet Explorer 9, Internet Explorer 10, Internet Explorer 11, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari.

Does anyone have good tools or advice for someone looking for a new career but isn't totally sure what suits them best?


Jonathan VanRyn Saint Louis, MO

I am a medically retired veteran. I've spent the past twelve years or more working construction, but my back finally told me it is time to find a new career. So it's back to the drawing board for me. Anything will help. THanks

19 May 2022 22 replies Career Exploration



Patricia Weinstein Cedar Grove, NJ

Hi Jonathan,
Thank you for your service. Being recently retired myself, I am also looking at the "what's next question". I now want to find something I really enjoy doing as I was in the same industry for 35 years. If you enjoy the construction industry, perhaps you might consider working in an office environment of a company of this nature instead of being the one doing the physical work. I would think another construction company would appreciate your hands on knowledge. Another avenue could be to join your local Chamber of Commerce. They are always a good source of information and networking.

Wishing you much success on your "second act"!


Joseph Smith Pearland, TX

I’m looking for disabled veterans with construction experience who can learn to use apps and software to work from home doing virtual consultations assisting homeowners choose new flooring, carpet, countertops and eventually other things. I’m starting in Houston, my next stop was Orlando but number three was St Louis, so if you’re interested in changing your job description to work from home with your computer instead of In the field with your tired body, I might just have the perfect job for you. Text message me at 832-464-4143 and we can discuss in more detail.


Venkat Narayanan San Jose, CA

Hello Jonathan,

Thank you for your service! As Yogi Berra once said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." Transitions are challenging, but inevitable. I am sorry to hear about your back, I hope you are able to keep it healthy to enjoy life.

I found myself in a similar position a few years ago and found this book to be the most helpful resource. The authors have a TED talk and there are YouTube videos you can watch. The book itself is a great investment if you do all the exercises.

One thing I got wrong about myself is that I focused on my career, hoping everything else will follow. It turned out that when I designed my life, the right career emerged. Others have given some wonderful advice on finding a career based on your strengths and aptitude. I hope you are able to craft your future, instead of trying to fit into a box someone else designed.

What I liked about designing my life is that it is not "one and done." Unfortunately, things change, so we have to re-think our assumptions and aspirations every few years. If you have a process already in place, you'll be ready for the transitions.

Best wishes.


jamesbayonne , LMHC Fort Lauderdale, FL

hi there shipmate, i hope you're well
back at the drawing can be an exciting opportunity for you,

health is MOST valuable asset a human can possess my friend so i urge you wilco n listen to your back, go easy!!!

"anything will help" is a bit massive to sift through and use up brain energy on in seeking a new career;
ratchet back your scope and focus on the reality of your unique situation;

construction is a lucrative field with immense growth ahead here in the USA/AFRICA/EUROPE,
my buddy Tony the Roofer can't find enough people to meet insane demand, hell, if i weren't living with tetraplegia i might be swabbin tar atop roofs 😂

anyway, the encouragement to you is use what you know, what you're confident in, & what value you can deliver to Construction industry talent & other stakeholders;

12+ yrs of knowledge in that industry is extremely valuable shipmate and how you use the information, your knowledge is your superpower;
i tell my Veteran et al. clients all day, 'information/knowledge ain't power, how you use it is power"!

All that to advise you, actually, I'm certain your state & local construction industry licensing authority has an updated listing of all CEU's required to work in Construction,
[FL for instance requires 14 CEU hours every two yrs]

given your decade plus of work & knowledge of Construction, use that knowledge to start creating updated Construction industry CEUs ...

potential is huge, here's a loose hypothetical:
VanRyn Construction Industry CEU Services, LLP ---
at $60 per package of 14hrs of CEUs, just 1 new licensed GC per day will generate $1800 per month for VanRyn Construction Industry CEU Services, LLP ... Doable with outstanding targeted and smart marketing

Reach out for additional feedback as needed brosif,
I value and thank you for the sacrifice & selflessness of your honorable Air Force service



Charles Schwable Temple, GA

Well Jonathan, the goal is to be your own boss, so as you have construction experience, I would try your own business as a handyman or a skilled trade as myself, I am electrician, I am semi-retired now because of my health, but still re-wire houses, and other areas of electricity, or HVAC, I did use the VRAP back in 2012-2014 to get my EPA card and my heating and air certification, which if you do that you can just do minor HVAC repairs like I do like changing capacitors, charging systems with Freon, or thermostats and make a comfortable clean extra money to whatever you plan to do with yourself


Victoria Heck Ashburn, VA

Sorry to hear @Jonathan. A good local resource if you haven't tried it, is your County Workforce Center. Each County has one, it might be under a different name. Employers contact the county with job openings and they also have reps that assist veterans or those that are seeking new employment. If you're on LinkedIn, happy to connect to have a further conversation:


David Streit Goldsboro, NC

"My next move" has a interest test to help. Here is the link,


Wayne Brantley Riverview, FL

Project Management is an excellent field for you. There is a lot to learn. Start with and start looking at low-cost courses on LinkedIn Learning and I also recommend joining your local PMI chapter. They provide great networking opportunities. Finally, learn what benefits you have from the military to take PM training including certifications.


James Jones Arnold, MD

You need to do a PCPG (career guidance) with the VA. They'll get you squared away and may even be able to send you to school.



If you're into IT, programming, sw development, etc focus getting certified such as Microsoft or Google or maybe Python sw language. - Dave (Ashland VA)


Jennifer Liddle Huntsville, AL

Hi, Jonathan! Sometimes a good, old fashioned aptitude test is a great place to start. The test below is free and rather painless to take:


Barron Evans Ann Arbor, MI

Foremost, thank you for your service.

Four skill/behavior assessments I've found insightful for me and my colleagues over the years are:
1) Berke
2) TTI
3) DiSC
4) StrengthsFinder 2.0

Each provides grounded profiles of what your leading/moderate/minor capabilities are... which lend themselves to both industry and role preference decision-making.

Best wishes for success!


David Eastman Gresham, OR

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for your service. I am very sorry about your medical problems which no doubt limit you in your career choices. That said, why don't you go to your local union--carpenter, electricians, plumbers--and offer to mentor trainees or, on behalf of the union, create some training courses for the Union. In the same line, you can go to your local community college and offer some courses designed for people who are interested in skills training and workforce development. I think you would like teaching and I think your background makes you ideal for it.


David F Eastman
US Navy Veteran
Former Union Carpenter


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

Hello Jonathan! Thank you for your service!

What a wonderful question and OPPORTUNITY you have! Now it is time to step back from the daily grind and re-ask yourself, "What do I WANT to do with the rest of my life?"

As a vocational counselor and human resources professional (for many years), I find that most every applicant and employer wants to focus on experience and education. That is too bad because whether looking to fill a position or seeking other employment, the real question is, from the employers' perspective, "What are the TALENTS necessary to do this job?"; and from the applicants' perspective, "What are MY talents and how do they fit in with the demands of the job?"

If you are nodding your head so far, then consider this: having a "good education" means that you CAN learn. Having an appropriate exposure to past like-experiences means . . . . well . . . . not much. But, if you have the talent (which cannot be taught) then you have the necessary building blocks that neither education nor experience can provide.

One simple example: If you were to be hiring for a receptionist position, do you want someone who is an introvert or an extrovert? Would you want someone who is shy or outgoing? I think the answer is apparent as extroversion and an outgoing nature cannot be taught in the classroom or from experience.

All of which baits the question, JUST WHAT ARE YOUR TALENTS?

Almost the first thing I do, when taking on a new client, is to have them take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). That provides an initial assessment of someone's inherent talents. At the bottom of this note, I have provided you with a link to a FREE assessment tool. It helps you come to grips with defining YOUR talents and provides some good ideas about the career direction someone with your combination of talents should look into.

If you want my thinking about the results of this assessment (also FREE to Vets!), please provide me with the letter and numbers associated with each of them. It should look something like I - 20, N - 45, T - 28, & J - 10. Feel free to contact me off this channel at

TALENT trumps education and experience every time!

Here is the link:


Jim Rohrbach Evanston, IL

Hi Jonathan! Aplace to start: Play with a few of these free assessments, see if that helps you narrow things down. I'm happy to chat with you once you have -- Jim "Da Coach"


George Wilhelmsen Rochelle, IL


That's a good question.

You have limits (your back) which are talking to you. But did you listen to your PASSION - did you enjoy construction?

If you did, rather than give up your passion, look for ways to change the music.

My wife had debilitating back pain - granted, she's older than you, and doesn't have your background. However, our medical insurance allowed her to have access to a core strength program called Hinge Health. That, and yoga have given her pain-free living without medications. By the way, she did try the medication path, and it provided only short-term relief. She was headed for surgery, and went the Hinge Health route.

Will this help you? I can't say it will, but I can say it helped her, so if construction is your love, maybe it's worth trying? She likes it enough that she acts as an uncompensated brand ambassador. Here is here e-card link:

Apart from that, please ask yourself what you love to do. You have to be honest with yourself - totally honest. If you are, and Hinge Health doesn't help you, you will have a list of potential occupations to go after.

I am a retired engineering manager, but I got into trouble as a manager by helping my people do work. Since I enjoy the engineering work so much, I signed on with a major engineering firm, and work on issues across our country. I'm having a ball doing it, because I enjoy the work.

If you can find that job for you, you'll enjoy it and be successful.

Good luck, and let me know if I can be of further assistance.


Jim Schreier Milwaukee, WI

The answers that recommend looking at what you enjoy -- what you love -- is the starting point. CliftonStrengths and the VIA Institute Strengths are alternative assessments. Marcus Buckingham's "Love + Work" is a great read from a career standpoint.


Joe Engle Indianapolis, IN

Jonathan, I always suggest that people go after careers that they really like/love(!) a lot. The reason is that a career will involve many years of your life, and possibly years of studying. So you better really like the career you choose! That said, you can always change careers, as you are doing. But it is always harder to get up in the morning and go to work if you do not enjoy it.

If you are not certain what direction you want to go, I strongly suggest a career aptitude test. I took some a long time ago, and they were accurate for me. I have not taken one in a long time, so I cannot recommend one in particular, but there are plenty available. Frank McGrath responded with one, so that would be a good place to start.

On the plus side, you have learned a lot with hobbies and experiences with working, and you already have some college courses under your belt. Having a fiance and kiddos may have an impact on your new "life direction", so be prepared for some of that. Look at your new direction as though you are at a fork in the "road of life" and you have the RARE OPPORTUNITY to choose whatever direction YOU LIKE to go. Appreciate that!

Thanks for your service Jonathan and best of luck,


Jeff Martin Ashburn, VA

You might consider making a personal marketing plan. I’ve done it and found it helpful. You can find free templates online or reach out to me via email and I’ll send you the template I’ve used. Best of luck. Jeff


Frank McGrath Crawfordville, FL

Take the Indigo Assessment at VetJobs for $25 for veterans. Or, contact to take it for free.


Tim Lewis Longwood, FL

Jonathan, I recommend going on LinkedIn to look for businesses. Once you find a business that you find interesting, look for people within the organization and reach out to someone that you have something in common with and send them a message. I'm certain people will help.


Richard Byrne Hillsborough, NJ

I've added links to information & videos under these sections of my EE webpage that might be useful to you: - see section on navigating the - convert LinkedIn profile to resume. - job search - Federal Gov Job search - veteran owned small business - VA programs - programming languages - online resources

Your Answer

Please log in to answer this question.

Sign Up

You can join as either a Veteran or an Advisor.

An Advisor already has a career, with or without military experience, and is willing to engage with and help veterans.
Sign Up as an Advisor.

A Veteran has military experience and is seeking a new career, or assistance with life after service.
Sign Up as a Veteran.