Is it time to transition to a civilian career? What happens when you leave the military? The Going Civilian section of USAA's Military Spouse Community is where you'll find information important things like: interviewing, resumes, networking, applying for jobs online, and more. This is where you will hear from other veterans and family members who have successfully made the military-to-civilian career transition. If you're looking for a career yourself or if you're supporting your spouse who is about to take off the uniform for good, this community is for you.

Occasional Visitor
I am preparing to retire from the Army in Approximately 1year and 5 months; this will give me 21 years of service. I am at an impasse as to what to do next. Although, I have completed our Military Transition Program (ACAP), I still have reserves on certain things to transition to the civilian workforce. Such as, creating a resume from my military experience, knowing what civilian job best fits my needs as far as income is concerned, finding the proper location to settle for me and my family, etc. What I am concerned with the most is income. Some military personnel, whom I have spoken with, that have exited the military ran into situations where they had to settle for jobs making half of what they were making while they were in the military. My goal is to secure employment measuring a little less than (no more than $5,000 annually), equal to or greater than my current military pay.
Chazz Pratt
New Member
JLLatson: Congratulations on 21 years! Here's a long response to your post. This is something there's no short answer to in my opinion. Hope this helps! Your resume needs to read in plain English. (What I refer to a Civilian-ese in the blog post Learning To Speak English Again). Make sure your resume is quantifiable - in other words, show a before and after effect using percentages or numbers or anything measurable. You might consider sending your resume to a civilian friend or relative. Ask them to read it. If they understand everything contained in your resume, you probably have a resume that won't confuse the average civilian employer. (Likewise, if you can explain your military jobs verbally in terms they can understand, you're probably communicating well for an interview too.) Of course, if you plan to work for the government or a government contractor who fully understands military terms, jargon, and acronyms, you can "civilianize" your resume as needed, but leave some of the military-speak in there if it makes sense to. Several versions of your resume might be the trick. Lots of considerations in store for you no doubt. Your best bet is to network with some career civilians a bit more. Advice from your military buddies is good, but you may be able to find out a few things from those who have worked at a particular company for a longer period of time than your military peers. Most companies have a range of salary. Those who work there now may be able to help you get in a position that pays at an acceptable level for your income goals. You will need to navigate all of this very carefully. Chances are, the person sitting across the desk from you has not led as many people as you have. With 21 years experience, you probably did things at a very young age while in uniform that many civilian interviewers have not done. The way you present yourself - and I'm not referring to the 'dress for success' stuff (which, as you know, is important) - is an essential element to consider. What I mean is that your military bearing, demeanor, and all that's generally accepted or expected while in uniform, may need to be adjusted. Maybe even scaled back a bit. A lot depends on your personality and how you come across in interviews. A lot also depends on the corporate culture, your potential boss, and how you fit in to a new organization. A few hours before I started writing this, someone commented on a prior military employee who comes across like he's still in the military. It's a civilian job. He has some great and impressive skills, but needs to recognize he is not in uniform anymore. The company he works for has a very "civilian" culture. I've found that as much as you hear your peers talk about receiving lower pay, you can find just as many who received higher pay if you look for them. Networking is the key. Your well-written resume is your ticket in. Your actions, connections, and ability to network can benefit you in your goal of getting a career at the level you want.