I recently retired from the Air Force in October 2007. What advice would you offer me as far as transitioning back into the civilian world? I have a resume that I wrote a few months back, are there any services which might be able to offer me some feedback on how I could improve my resume?

There are a ton of resume services out there, but I don’t know any personally, so I’ll have to decline to recommend one. It may be worth your time and money to have someone look over it, but there are no hard and fast rules for resumes other than these (which I’m sure someone in the comments will disagree with):

1. Check your spelling. Six times. Have your wife/husband/neighbor/dry cleaner check your spelling.
2. Check your grammar. (See above for details)
3. Limit your resume to 2 pages (unless this is some resume where you need to list all your fabulous publications).
4. Customize your resume to the job you are looking for.
5. Leave off that “career objective” statement at the top. I have no idea if recruiters like those but everyone I’ve seen is so generic and annoying that it lowers my opinion of the letter writer.

As to how to transfer your Air Force career into a civilian career, don’t over think it. You’ve been working for the past twenty years and now you want to keep working. Excellent. Determine what you want to do and research the companies you want to work for and go for it.

You may be sitting there thinking, “but I’ve been blowing things up for twenty years and every time I search on ‘explosives’ on monster.com I get no hits!” I actually have a friend who just retired from a company that marketed bombs. Yes, actually bombs. He was a bomb marketer. (He always went to the best conventions.) So, don’t doubt your ability to find a job that fits your skill set.

You may find it difficult to go from a military world to a civilian world, but don’t let that scare you. Start networking, especially among your friends who retired before you did. They know the ropes and they know you.

Good luck with your job search and thanks for serving in the military. Those of us who live in freedom thank you.

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11 thoughts on “Career Transition

  1. Hi — My dad retired from the Air Force when I was in college. He spent a month working on a shrimp boat (because he had always wanted to), then worked as a contractor for Bell Helicopter teaching aircraft maintenance to the Saudi Air Force, then got his teaching certificate and taught sixth grade math and science at Sigonella Naval Base.

    The only job he wanted that he didn’t get was as an aircraft mechanic at an airport in south Texas — the manager told him that he didn’t like to hire retired officers for such jobs because they were better at giving orders than taking them.

    My former employer loved to hire retired military men as plant managers, etc. I worked for a paper company, where there is not much blowing up of things, but the management skills transfer.

    FedEx is full of retired military.

    Good luck!

  2. I have a number of friends here in the Colorado Springs area that are retired officers from the military (Army, Navy and Air Force). All of them work for one of the large defense consulting firms. Seems like there’s lots of work here for retired officers.

  3. Yes, leave off the objective statement! I’ve never seen one that’s inspired me to hire anyone, but I’ve seen plenty that get the resume moved to the “thanks but no thanks” file!

    If you know someone who can write well and will proofread your resume for you, I’d save the money on a service. You’ll need to tweak it for each type of job you apply for anyway.

    Even if you don’t have the ‘traditional’ experience asked for in a job description, there’s probably something you did in the military that’s similar. We had someone apply for a maintenance/repairman job who had little relevant experience (he was a gardener), except he’d re-done his whole house. He brought his progress pictures, and was able to answer some basic questions, and we hired him despite his lack of experience on paper.

    I think there’s also a service through the Air Force that helps recently discharged veterans find jobs. My boss is ex-Air Force, and he’s mentioned it several times. It may be all armed services, not just the Air Force though. I would think they’d also have people who could help with a resume, without the expense of a service.

  4. You may also want to consider volunteering for an organization like SCORE http://www.score.org where some of your leadership talents can be put to good use while you are looking for a new place to land job wise.

  5. You don’t say what you did in the military but whatever it was, you did it successfully for 20 years. What skills did you develop in doing so? Were they organizational skills, problem solving, critocal thinking, managing or leading people? managing projects? How about adaptability – how often did you move, how many types of units did you work in and were you assigned overseas? If you were an officer or senior NCO say so. What training did you receive?

    ABSOLUTE MUST: Have a non-military person review your resume to make sure it all translates well.

    Your military experience provides you preference for federal jobs so this sector may of interest to you.

    Good Luck!

  6. I’ll offer the opposite perspective in that I like career objectives if they’re well written and well-defined. That’s a big IF, and most people write horribly generic ones (like “to find a job where I can apply my skills and grow”). A well written one can help me understand how a candidate sees him/herself and also provide a clear statement of what this person wants to do. The problem is that 99% of them are too broad, filled with useless buzzwords, and add zero value.

  7. As Lisa said, you didn’t mention what you did in the military. I know that military personnel do far more than “blow things up” because I’ve worked at a military base. A resource I found at my library to help with my job hunt is a book called “O* NET Dictionary of Occupational Titles” published by JIST Publishing Inc. There is a HUGE section on Military positions (the whole gamut) and you can find other jobs that may be similar in the civilian world. The book is huge, and you would probably want to check your local library for a copy rather than purchase it yourself.
    I just discovered this book, but it may provide a bit of insight into specific skills you can mention and identify. Thanks for serving in the military and good luck in your job hunt!

  8. The name of my company is MilitaryResumes.com. We specialize in assisting military veterans with their career transition into the civilian world. We are backed by decades of military-to-civilian recruiting experience, we use Certified Professional Resume Writers and experienced Transition Coaches. Please feel free to contact me at JLand@MilitaryResumes.com or visit us online at http://www.MilitaryResumes.com for additional information.

  9. Our Federal services include professional resume writing for federal resumes, interview coaching by a leading career coach, and career transition services for veterans and civilians.
    We offer federal resume writing services, by certified resume writers in addition to federal job listings, career coaching, and federal employment opportunities.

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