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How to Start your Civilian Job Search

by Peter Marx

If you separated from the military more than 10 years ago, you probably missed going through the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program (TAP). It was created in reaction to the major down-sizing of forces in the 1990s. Remember that? DoD was concerned that such a large number of people would be leaving military service unprepared to find new civilian employment in the shortest time possible. The program covers lots of information regarding relocation, education benefits, health and life insurance and finances, but its emphasis is on preparing veterans to find employment.

DoD provided funding for each branch to hire Transition Assistance staff members for all the major bases of each service. I was one of them. We all got our training at the National Veterans Training Institute which was created at the University of Denver in Colorado.

Out of that curriculum came a basic checklist called a DD2648. It is a form designed to create a personalized list of all the things you should or could do to find employment as, and even after, you separated from the military. Some of the following are references from that checklist that are helpful to consult as you begin a new job search.

How much money should you be paid?
Regular military compensation is the approximate amount of an equivalent civilian salary. Remember, if you have a retirement pension, it shouldn't be considered as a part of your income when you negotiate a salary. Consider it an annuity you have created for yourself.

You can also use the free Salary Wizard from Quest Career Services to find salary information.

If you are just starting to put a resume together and any or all of your military experience should be included on it, then download your Verification of Military Education and Training (DD2586) from the Department of Defense web site. You must have a DFAS PIN for access. It contains two sections, your military work experience and your military training history. The work experience section will remind you of transferable skills to put in your current resume. The training section can also remind you to include some of the past training you received that may still support your new job objective. You may have to change the names of some of your training courses. Instead of saying you went to the NCO Academy, say you went to Senior Leadership and Management Training. You are free to change the name of any non-civilian sounding training to give employers a title that accurately describes the content of the training.

CareerOneStop Centers connect veterans and transitioning service members and families with high quality career planning, training, and job search resources.

The federal government is going through some very interesting times in regard to employment. It is estimated that 60% of all federal employees are in a position to retire, and the baby-boomers are beginning to do that. As a result, military veterans are gaining in preferential treatment for hiring by the Federal government. To get information on veterans' preference, converting your military experience, benefits and programs, and the forms you'll need to apply for Federal jobs, visit .

Sometimes, furthering your education may be the best way to increase your chances of landing a better job. For education benefits including the new Montgomery GI Bill, Veterans Educational Assistance Program, Vocational Rehabilitation, Vietnam-era, etc., refer to the GI Bill web site and VA Disability Benefits .

If you already have a Bachelor degree, or at least one year of college credit and appropriate work experience, you may already be qualified to teach in our public school system. Troops to Teachers is a Department of Education and Department of Defense program that helps eligible military personnel begin new careers as teachers in public schools where their skills, knowledge and experience are most needed.

Small businesses are the foundation of the American economy. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to create and run your own business, the Small Business Administration offers great assistance to veterans and their families. Look under the "Local Resources" section for information on Veterans Business Outreach Centers and Women's Business Centers.

Remember, if you are a retired veteran with a valid ID, you can always get assistance from the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) at the nearest military base. If you're not near a base with a TAP, or if you do not have an ID card, you can get assistance from the One Stop Career Centers referred to above. Identify yourself as a veteran.

Happy Job Hunting!