Leaving the military with the challenge of finding a new and interesting career is a challenge. Trying to do the same while deployed is even more of a challenge. Planning a military-to-civilian career transition while deployed is far from impossible. Instead, starting early, lots of research, sound financial planning, and networking can make an incredible difference to having a successful transition.
Planning For a Career Transition While Deployed #1 – See If a 6 Month Extension Is Available.
A career transition is much easier planned while at your home station. While deployed, pursue the option if you can delay your date of transition from leaving military service by six months. This may or may not be possible depending on your military unit, military specialty, and time in service, but it is a worthwhile option to pursue. Try to spend as much time as possible at your home station for your transition planning.
Planning For a Career Transition While Deployed #2 – Get Your Financial House In Order.
Savings and reducing your monthly costs are the best advantages you can have while transitioning. To build your savings, designate a separate account for your savings and use monthly withdrawals to directly send as much as possible into your savings account. For your monthly costs, reduce your monthly spending as much as you can. Places in your budget you can save: reduce your cell phone plan, refinance a car loan at a lower rate, and pay off any outstanding debts that have high interest rates like credit cards. The final step is creating a realistic monthly budget. Determine how many months of living expenses you have in your budget from your savings with your reduced costs. This financial house keeping will be essential in helping your focus solely on career concerns when you return. Finally, save all your leave until you leave the service. Having one to two months of paid leave when you depart the service will be an incredible financial boost.
Planning For a Career Transition While Deployed #3 – Reach Out to Contacts and Network.
Reach out to friends, family, old high school contacts, and create new contacts to find opportunities and where they are available. Networking is using others to help you do your career research and find which cities are doing the most amount of hiring. Use your network to create as many contacts as you can which can then be sent to you for follow up. Talk to your unit Chaplain to see if they can network with their religious colleagues back in the United States. Networking is ongoing and creative, but it makes all the difference. Enlisting others to help your career transition is one of the greatest assets that you can do for your transition.
Planning For a Career Transition While Deployed #4 – Use Available Government Programs As Much As Possible.
Each military service's Transition Assistance Program (TAP) has career counselors that can help with resume creation, finding opportunities, and networking. Additionally, services such as the USO that is available in some deployed locations, also have career services and maybe able to provide Skype or other video interviewing capabilities. Use the Internet to find large military veteran job boards such as Hire Heroes USA (https://www.hireheroesusa.org/) that can provide assistance.
Career transition planning while deployed is difficult but very possible. Get your finances in order, increase savings, reduce monthly expenses, have friends and family help find opportunity, and take advantage of all available programs to create opportunity from challenge. As a deployed job seeker and networker, you will stand out for your passion and creativity.
Add your ideas, tips, and suggestions what worked for you in your transition or planning for career transition while deployed in the comments.
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USAA Career Transition Center & Resources
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