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Tips and tools for finding your career fit as a transitioning veteran

Do you feel lacking in direction about your civilian career? Or do you feel pigeonholed into one location or career track? Many service members sell...

Do you feel lacking in direction about your civilian career?

Or do you feel pigeonholed into one location or career track?

Many service members sell themselves short in the roles they target, or restrict their search more than necessary. Just because you were infantry in the service doesn’t mean your mandatory career path is security or policing afterwards.

With help from Betts Recruiting, we’ve gathered the following tips and tools to help you find your career fit as a transitioning veteran.

Tip 1: Be open to jobs, school or both

Through the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon programs, there are ample opportunities to get training with most or all of your expenses compensated by the government benefits which you’ve earned. You can literally get paid to go to school!

Also, you can work full or part time and still receive benefits for part-time schooling. So don’t overlook the GI Bill opportunities just because you find a job.

FDR is incredulous

Tip 2: Be open to new roles and industries

First, keep an open mind about the industries and roles you target for your search. You owe yourself the chance to discover new, or better career fits. You don’t know what you don’t know.


Second, consider the various connections and opportunities you currently have. You can explore more potential connections and networks by tailoring your resume and pitch to each individual you talk to. Are you struggling to think what civilian careers might match up to your military experience? Marine For Life has some tools for you like MyNextMove for Veterans, to learn about the kinds of civilian jobs there are related to your military specialty.

Tip 3: Be open to new geographies

You likely moved around plenty in the military, and found some locations to your liking, and others not so much. For more than seven out of ten service members, the military career is your short career. Your civilian sector roles are where you will spend decades more of your life.

Think of geographic flexibility as a significant tool to leverage in your candidacy. You probably do have a location preference, but be open to the idea that career progressions in most companies can involve relocations. Also, a good opportunity in a sub-par location could open up better career advancement elsewhere.

Tip 4: Where can you provide value?

Normal job searches focus on “where can I get a paycheck and job?” Great job searches focus on where your strengths can add real value to an organization. As noted career coach and writer Liz Ryan says, “get good at pain-spotting.” “Understanding business pain is a huge asset to a job seeker or anyone who wants to run their own career.”

Noted PhD researcher and writer Cal Newport recommends the Craftsman Mindset as you embark on a new career. “If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (“what can the world offer me?”) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (“what can I offer the world?”).”

In So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, he writes “the happiest, most passionate employees are not those who followed their passion into a position, but instead those who have been around long enough to become good at what they do.”


Do you feel anxiety about “sticking the landing” with an ideal job immediately upon transitioning? Try to focus more on the long-term opportunities that a challenging, new career path could bring.

Take a look at your own career and passion through the philosophy of author and businessman Tony Robbins:

Career fit tools

  • Talk to a recruiting firm. These are specialty businesses that connect and train job seekers with open roles. For example, for those open to Sales or Business Development opportunities, Betts Recruiting can connect you with hundreds of companies interested in hiring veterans.

“We are honored to help military veterans translate their strong leadership traits and great communication skills into revenue generating careers with some truly innovative companies,” said Carolyn Betts Fleming, CEO and Founder of Betts Recruiting. “The Betts difference is that we build strong client relationships and work directly with hiring decision makers to advocate for veterans and give job seekers both positive and constructive interview feedback to set them up for success.”

  • Learn about careers, find career information, and locate career resources and advice with CareerOneStop.
  • Simultaneously broaden your horizons and filter your personal results with career fit tests, such as these, recommended by and Career Fitter.

Stay tuned

Stay tuned to this series if you want to:

  • Learn skills such as interviewing, networking and salary negotiation to help you achieve your career transition goals
  • Be connected with civilian employers looking to hire Sandboxx veterans
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The editorial team at Sandboxx.