Transitioning from military service to a civilian career comes with a host of emotions — excitement, hope and perhaps some uncertainty, especially in the wait for job offers. As you establish your “new normal” and move into a new civilian career at VA or with another employer, maintaining a self-care routine can make that shift easier.
Here are seven ways to boost your confidence as you transition from military to civilian employment.
- Check in with your friends.
During your military career, you built a support system of contacts, and some of them may have already transitioned to a civilian career. Get talking! Opening up about your experiences solicits stories from other service members who made the move. Gain confidence knowing that you are not alone and learn strategies and tactics from others. Let friends know you’re building a job-search network and help them make valuable connections on your behalf.
- Keep an exercise routine.
In general, physical activity is great for our health. But in times of transition, it’s even more important to care for your physical and mental health. Exercise boosts your mood and gets you out of the house. Consider trying out a new sport or fitness class. Need to join a gym? Check out your local YMCA, which may partner with the area VA facility to offer special services and rates for Veterans. You never know who you might meet on the other end of the weight bench.
- Attend military transition classes.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) offers military transition classes at every military installation, online and at other locations such as VA offices. TAP classes begin during your last year of service — after you have an identified separation plan. The program includes group classes particular to each service branch, briefings from VA and other agencies with Veteran programs, and job and transition counselors who can work with transitioning service members individually.
- Find a mentor.
We all benefit from hearing stories from folks who have paved the way ahead of us. A mentor is a great resource in any job search, and especially for service members transitioning to civilian careers. Find someone who shares your values and have a clear idea of what you want to get out of the relationship. If you don’t have an ideal candidate in your network, search online for Veteran mentor matching programs like Veterati.
- Seek out VA services.
VA has you covered! We know the value of hiring Veterans and have many programs available to transitioning military service members. VA works with DoD to create TAP classes and briefings. VA for Vets aids transitioning members seeking post-service jobs. And through VA Careers, Veterans can identify themselves in the application process and get support from VA throughout the hiring process.
- Leverage online resources.
There’s a multitude of online resources available to transitioning service members. You can find trainings, job boards, employers who specialize in hiring Veterans, mentoring resources and online chat help. VA Careers’ Transitioning Military Personnel page and TAP are good places to start.
- Volunteer your time.
If job offers don’t come right away, giving back is a great way to make new connections and establish yourself in the community. Volunteer in a field that’s similar to your chosen career path to get experience and build your resume. Many volunteer organizations like Habitat for Humanity, which works with military service members, Veterans and their families to build or improve their homes, have programs that serve Veteran families. Your local VA facility may also have volunteer opportunities.
Choose a VA career today
Start your next mission at VA or another employer using these self-care tips and other confidence-boosters.