From the Battlefield to the Boardroom Podcast - Episode 72

7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Left the Military

Transitioning out of the military can bring some unique challenges that you may not have anticipated.

An Orion Recruiter and former Marine Corps Officer joined the show to discuss the seven things he wished he had known when transitioning out of the military



Transitioning out of the military can bring some unique challenges that you may not have anticipated. Things like a gap in health insurance coverage, the logistics of relocation, and potentially taking a pay cut can catch many transitioning service members by surprise.

An Orion Recruiter and former Marine Corps Officer joined the show to discuss the seven things he wished he had known when transitioning out of the military, including the "cost" of leaving the military, the process and typical timeline, and the benefits of working with a military recruiter.

"I wish I had known...the cost of leaving the military."
There are great resources on base that can really walk you through what your budget will look like. You need to think about taxable income, 401K, health insurance, mortgage costs, etc. The transition resources on base can help you figure out what your budget number may be, giving you an estimate of what you are looking for when applying to positions.

In addition, it is important to understand that you may be taking a pay cut. You need to think about your civilian career like when you first entered the military. You probably are not making the same salary as you were when you first joined. You are stepping into a new industry, and need to learn the hard skills. Understand that there will be growth potential and a higher salary earning potential after you've progressed in your career.

"I wish I had known...the power of researching myself."
The biggest concern when transitioning out of the military is figuring out where you can apply the skill sets from the military and where you can find that same job satisfaction. Corporate America is so vast, with a variety of industries and positions. Finding your value by completing a strengthsfinder test to learn where your strengths lie is beneficial.

Do your own research on different industries, companies, and what positions veterans have accepted after transitioning. Reach out to your network or a military recruiting firm like Orion Talent to help you understand what would be the best fit for you, and to help you find your next career.

"I wish I had known...the process and typical timeline of finding a civilian career."
The best practice in preparing for a civilian career is to figure out when you want to start your next position and work backwards from that date. Orion recommends that you begin at least 3-6 months out to start the job search process in earnest. This allows you to make decisions regarding geographical location, salary, and position, and also allows time for you to prepare your resume and interview skills. View our transition timeline for a more detailed look at each stage of the transition process.

With civilian jobs, there is usually a 3-4 week interview and onboarding process. The process typically begins with a screening interview to determine if you are a fit, a phone interview and/or on site interview, verbal offer, written offer, salary negotiation, formal offer, drug screen and background check, then start date.

"I wish I had known...the benefits of working with a military recruiter."
Orion is a resource that helps you make informed decisions that are going to affect your future career and your family's well being; therefore it is important that you are as transparent as possible when working with a military recruiter. Recruiters are hugely beneficial, and can give you guidance on what you are looking for, insight into different careers and industries, and can be an advocate for you during your job search. Recruiters can help revise and polish your resume, help with interview preparation, and give you constructive feedback.

"I wish I had value to a civilian employer."
It is normal to feel insecure when looking at position descriptions, but focus on the intangible traits that you cultivated during your time in the military - leadership, discipline, work ethic, etc. Hiring managers are looking for someone who brings core competency as well as humility to the company. It is important to convey that while you may not have industry experience, the soft skills that you do possess far outweigh the hard skills.

"I wish I had known...I would have more opportunities if I was geographically flexible."
While this is a personal choice, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of being open geographically, especially for the right opportunity. Work with your recruiter or transition assistance coordinator on base and find out which locations and job opportunities with which you are willing to be flexible.

"I wish I had known...the importance of establishing an online presence."
Establishing an online presence is the best way to launch and expand your network. LinkedIn offers its Premium account service to transitioning servicemembers and veterans for one year for free, and is the best place to improve your proficiency in the current job market. LinkedIn is especially helpful for finding informational interviews, referrals, and more.

You can also follow us across all social media platforms to stay up to date on various job opportunities, relevant company news, and more. Find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.