Planning and navigating your post-military employment!


Transitioning out of the military or seeking employment as a veteran can be stressful and daunting. We have staff that has personally felt this stress when transitioning off active duty from military branches such as the Marine Corps. If you’re transitioning or plan on transitioning from the military, chances are that you may have concerns with your MOS (military occupational specialty) not translating to the civilian workforce, especially if you’ve spent your time in the infantry. To help ease the stresses and smooth the transition, Apex Systems National Veteran Advocate, Dylan Kodad shares useful resources and tips he has found to be helpful.

Leverage the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) SkillBridge Program

There are many career paths you can choose to go post-military, but for this article, we’re focusing on the information technology, cybersecurity, and project management industry. If you are interested in pursuing a career in information technology and are still on active duty, we recommend joining a DOD SkillBridge program.

Per Kodad, “The most important piece of advice I can give to veterans and transitioning service members is to know your resources. For example, the DOD SkillBridge program is one of the many resources I was unaware of while serving in the military. I wish I was aware of it before separating from the military.”

Active service members, if you have 180 days left on your contract before separation, you can join a SkillBridge program with command approval. Many programs are available with different goals and outcomes, but these programs will allow you to break into the industry before you even separate from the military. Some programs offer 6-month internships or apprenticeships while others offer courses that are relevant to the skillset you’re seeking. Either way, you can gain relevant knowledge and experience while still getting paid by the government.

For general information about DOD SkillBridge opportunities check out the resources below.

Our partnership with Vets2PM for the DOD SkillBridge program allows residents of our program to take courses in information technology and cybersecurity to obtain skills commonly used in those positions. In addition to these self-paced courses, residents of the program can use additional benefits to obtain commonly required certifications such as the CompTIA Security+ certification. If you have a security clearance and a Security+ certification, there are endless opportunities to transition into technical support, SOC analysis, or other types of entry-level technical roles. Our goal is to assist each resident by finding them employment near the end of the program. This is a great opportunity to line up a job before even leaving the service. A few additional resources to consider include Vets2PM SkillBridge and our article, Information Security: A Technical Guide for the Aspiring Information Security Professional.

We maintain over 15 partnerships with organizations focused on supporting veterans, active-duty service members, and military spouses. Our pledge is to hire veterans, and as such we’ve partnered with and implemented a Military Skills Translator tool that helps ease the job search process. Leverage this tool to help translate your military job title to matching and available job openings.

Job Seeker Process and Important Next Steps

If you’re a veteran or transitioning out of the service, these next steps are beneficial when entering the civilian workforce.

  1. Self-Assessment and Reflection
    • Consider your goals, motivators, likes, and dislikes in a job.
    • Identify potential target career paths and positions, with the support of your network. Get more tips on potential career paths in this article, Three Great Career Fields for Veterans.  
  2. Professional Branding
    • Create or enhance your resume.
    • Do an online social media audit.
    • Consider making your profiles public.
    • Update your LinkedIn, ClearanceJobs, and other profiles.
  3. Strategy and Networking
    • Identify the top two to four hiring trends or trending tech-related to your skillset(s).
    • Engage in skills development, like Bootcamps and online courses.
    • Increase your networking via LinkedIn and Meetup.
    • Identify companies you’re interested in and develop a company prospect list.
    • Seek guidance from your network on resources and possible opportunities.
  4. Identify Job Prospects
    • Reach out to recruiters that work your desired skillset.
    • Attend job fairs.
    • Set up job alerts.
  5. Apply Effectively
    • Tailor your resume to the position you are applying for.
    • Schedule weekly follow-ups on applications you have submitted.
    • Understand that most companies are looking for a 70% to 80% fit. Apply to positions even if you may not have 100% of the required skills.
  6. Interview Preparation
    • Write out why you are interested and qualified.
    • Practice your elevator pitch for 20 to 30 seconds and make it sound natural and not rehearsed.
    • Work on skills development or additional training where your skills can improve.
  7. Post Interview
    • Always send a thank you note or email.
    • Make weekly follow-ups until you receive an update on the status of your application.

Visit our Career Resource Library for various on-demand training and articles on all the topics and advice above. Simply select a category from the left to view the resources for your target topics.

Applying for Jobs and Connecting with the Right Recruiter

The following includes our top five recommendations to consider when applying for jobs and connecting with the right recruiters that support the given jobs.

  1. Apply for individual positions and ensure you’re signed up with those organizations or following them on their social media.
  2. Our recommendation is to apply for a position when you have at least 80% of the requirements and an interest in learning and doing the rest. Check out our articles and training on how to develop skills here.
  3. Take steps to optimize your resume for the positions you’re applying for. Get advice in this article, Land More Interviews: Beat the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
  4. In addition to applying, make one additional outreach attempt. You’re welcome to connect with us by locating and calling one of our offices within your market.
  5. If you don’t hear back from the organization after your first follow-up to your application, try again in three business days.

From defining your goals to networking and applying to positions, we have resources for every step of your job-seeking journey. A few resources as it relates to our top five recommendations above include the following:

Remember, as a veteran or active-duty service member, you possess the skills, knowledge, and character that employers are looking for. You have skills and experience that will make you an asset to any company or organization. Keep our toolkit of resources nearby to help you chart your path towards a successful transition and long-lasting career. Never stop learning, keep pushing forward, remain optimistic, don't give up, and reach out with questions. There's a great future ahead for you!

If you know a veteran or someone nearing separation or transitioning from service, share this article with them or download our Resources and Guidelines Checklist.

Author: Dylan Kodad, Apex Systems National Veteran Advocate