Best jobs after retiring from the military

When it’s time to stand down, you’d like an easy transition, a lot of stability and a job that makes use of what you know.

By Jennifer Merritt, Carolyn Bigda and Donna Rosato

March 22 2007

NEW YORK (Money Magazine) — You’ve put in your 20 years, and you’re headed back to civilian life. You want your new career to make use of the technical, organizational and leadership skills you honed in the military.

For many veterans, that straightforward realignment, along with industry stability, is a must-have.

“They may do almost the same thing in civilian life as they did in the military,” says Richard Crampton, director of placement at the Military Officers Association.

Last year 10,000 active-duty career officers retired. About 100,000 senior enlisted men and women also left.

Many take jobs for defense contractors or government agencies – their security clearance opens all doors. Other jobs stand out too.

“Veterans are expert troubleshooters,” says Randall Scasny, director of Military “Teach them something and they can fix any problem.”

That’s why so many vets end up in logistics. Marc Guertin spent 22 years in the Navy before retiring as a master chief petty officer in 2005, when he was in charge of staff and facilities at the Navy’s submarine training school. “I wasn’t just looking for a job,” says Guertin, 46. “I was looking for a second career.”

That search led him to the logistics team at Target Corp.’s massive Stuarts Draft, Va. distribution center, where he started as a group leader for operations later that year.

“Logistics is all about deliverables, so in that sense, it’s not a lot different from the military,” says Guertin, who got a promotion last month. “It really dovetails nicely.”

Crossing over from military life can present challenges, though, so keep these things in mind as you step out of uniform.

1. Take off your rank

Drop the sirs and ma’ams and try to loosen up a bit in interviews. Get comfortable with the idea of not being addressed as Captain or Colonel, says Crampton.

2. Don’t be married to your hometown

After spending most of your adult life on the move, you’ll want to go home. Unfortunately, the job you want isn’t likely to be there. Look first for the job and then settle on a location.

3. Mine the military way

Show what you bring to the table that’s just part of being in the service: reliability, ethics and leadership. Stress your ability to motivate younger or lower-level employees.

4. Translate the military speak

Chances are, you earned plenty of certificates and took numerous training courses, many of which translate to civilian jobs.

That recruiting course, for example, might be equal to an HR certificate in the corporate sphere.

5. Get a makeover

Got a friend in the business world? Enlist her help on style. Consider growing your hair out a bit, says Crampton. And remember that your dress uniform fits a lot tighter than a standard business suit.

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