I think you said it best in the title of this Hard Transition. It is just that! I said the same thing when I came to this reality way back in 1994.
You might recall something said in military circles that went a little something like this:
"You have the School Solution and you've got to deal with the Real World."
Military-to-Civilian career transition is no different. ACAP or TAP gives you the school solution, then we all run out and experience the real world.
* The person sitting across the desk interviewing you usually has no idea what your background is all about. Don't expect them to guess based on you initial resume you wrote. You also need to explain things to the Employer in plain English and show them the benefits of hiring you.
* The person sitting across from you might feel threatened by your experience. How may people are they in charge of versus how many you lead while in uniform? (A Friend pointed this out to me and I'll never forget it.). You might need to adjust your approach a bit.
* Other people applying for the job might fit a different "profile" or "role". In other words, don't compare yourself to a person applying for a job that you're definitely over-qualified for. Remember, you're military experience gives you a higher level of confidence. You're more self-assured than the recent high school or college grad with little to now actual work experience. You might be overqualified for the job, even though you need work and expect that your skills surpass the job requirements. But, you're not the one hiring or hired.
* Once you've served in the military, you've surpassed what is considered Entry Level in some cases. Make sure you keep applying to jobs that actually fit your skill set - even if you need to take a "bridge job", which is just something to help you make ends meet while you continue your search for the best fit job/career. (Also, make sure to look into the corporate level jobs there too! Someone mentioned applying for a fast food job that a high schooler got instead. Look for Veteran programs at companies that have a management development program. Do a search for Top Veteran Employers. )
* Look at who you're up against when applying. Given that fast food scenario once again, I doubt they didn't hire the Veteran due to skill level - it had to be a perception that the Veteran can do much more than a high school student. If no jobs fit your skill set, why would they hire you? You might be over-qualified. And, I do understand the necessity of putting food on the table. Best advice: keep looking for the right fit!
* Look at your resume to make sure it reflects the best of you! Have several versions of your resume. Meet some people that work where you think you want to work.
As I mentioned on a previous post, please take a look around the GOING CIVILIAN Blog as we now have nearly 3 years of content that might address the things you and other have brought up.
And, keep the conversations going! I'm here to answer questions such as these.
And just beware, I tend to give long answers as this is important to me to try to help.