Top 10 Ways to Cope with Military to Civilian Job Position

Transitioning to the civilian job world can be stressful—whether they’re due to a medical or voluntary release or retirement from a distinguished career in the military. If you’re facing one, consider the following.


Take an honest look at yourself. What are your strengths, weaknesses, transferable skills and motivators? (I saved the BEST for the last…Look at what motivates you inside. When were you last motivated in your military career?) Can you recall your peak moments? How did those influence—positively or negatively—your transition?
If you are still struggling to answer the above questions, look at comments from your PER’s (performance evaluation reports) or ask trusted colleagues what your strengths are.

Still don’t have a clue? Book a career strategy with me on this site,

Step up your self-care. Major changes are physically and emotionally taxing. You need self-care now more than ever.
In previous career transition seminars at military bases, I have advised transitioning military to “remove the uniform psychologically.” This is the FIRST step. You must come to terms with creating a new, professional identity, outside of the military.

Then, look after yourself and your family. Do you have their support to leave the military? You need to develop resources to take care of yourself, such as exercise, family/pet time, medical supports (physical and mental), and coping strategies on how you plan to move onto your new civilian life.

Engage your curiosity. What went wrong, or right after you started your transition? What could you have done better? What worked really well?
Focus on what you want, and less on what you don’t want. Keep your eye on the prize.
Don’t settle for taking the first civilian job without doing a thorough self-assessment (see point #1). Furthermore, DON’T be tempted to make your decision exclusively on money. I agree with a recent post in the, which emphasized the importance of looking at impact and mastery of your competencies….you’ve gained them in your military career to be sure!

This is the most competitive workforce ever. And don’t expect civilian employers to recognize your time in the military. The take away? Some employers care that you are military, others, quite frankly, won’t give a toss. You will be in the pool of competing job candidates. And another point-most employers neither understand, nor recognize your training or credentials.

What’s the antidote? Know your brand and promote it consistently to potential employers. This means thinking about how:

-you are unique from your competitors, as far as qualifications, accomplishments and achievements

-specializations you have

-your reputation in the military and in the community, especially if you have had a leadership role, such as a sports coach, board member or volunteer

-what do you do better than someone else competing for the same job?

Find support. Since your transition affects your family as well, it may be better to seek the outside support of friends or professionals. That’s where a credentialed career coach comes in.
It has been proven that those individuals who seek professional career transition services return to work faster, and are aligned closer to their career or job goals.

Work on your thoughts. Calm your fears and reinforce your sense of hope and happiness.
It is normal to have fears or anxieties about pursuing a major goal like a career transition. Through every major change comes discomfort. Don’t let fear paralyze you from achieving your goals.

Reassure (or avoid) those who are threatened by, or jealous of, the change.
Naysayers abound (and they could be close to you). Keep calm and stay the course-have a career transition plan.


Create your own rite of passage. Ceremony and ritual help with all transitions.
You are embarking on an unknown journey. Career change is no longer linear; all jobs are temporary. Keep this in mind and be open to taking risks.

Let go of how things were “supposed to be” and accept “how things are.” Find appreciation for what is.
Your military career is done and dusted. You are the master of your ship as far as taking charge or your civilian career. Take advantage of it!

Keep things in perspective. Or try on a new perspective. Don’t get stuck. Remember, the only constant is change.
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Tags: military transition; careers; civilian jobs
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