Veterans’ Day Career Advice from CareNational

Written by Former SSG Amanda Sowards, U.S. Army, 2006-2015
Contact her at 1.800.974.4828 x110, or


Whether your transitioning out of the Army, Navy, Marines Corps, or Air Force there is one big constant… you won’t be getting that steady pay check.  Here at CareNational we thought the Veteran’s Day Holiday was a good time to reach out to Veterans.  No matter if you are preparing for transition, in the process, or already on the outside, we want to see how we can help.  We have a few Army Veterans on our team, but we will try and keep it very general. There are a few things you have to do to get ready for your life on the civilian side:

  1. Preparing your resume is a good first step. When you’re doing this, we suggest you use your Written Evaluations, Awards, or Letters of Recommendations. Those quantifiable bullets needed for all those written records are perfect to show your experience. However, make sure you translate it into “civilian-speak.” Example: “Led a squad of 10 Marines through a field exercise” can be translated into “Supervised 10 subordinates in a two-month training course.” Also, prepare your references by making sure you haven’t lost touch with them. If they are still active duty, your references might have moved or been deployed, so ensure you have current contact info. IMPORTANT: Make sure nothing on your resume is still Classified!
  2. Now that you have a standard resume to work with, make sure you follow all laws and regulations when looking for a new position. Each service and the DOD have specific time-frames of when you are authorized to post your resume and start looking prior to your end of service date. Once you’re cleared, start looking around 2-3 months out for a civilian position or 6 months out for a government position. Apply for positions that are of interest to you and that seem to be at least a 70% match for your background. Post your resume everywhere you can, who knows what company might find it. Also network professionally with individuals in the industry you are interested in.  Definitely start to use LinkedIn like a pro, but also search for in-person opportunities like conferences and volunteer activities.
  3. Assuming everything goes smoothly, you will start getting offers for jobs, either related to your MOS or not. When considering which career opportunity is right for you and your family, ensure you take a look at more than just the salary.  You should consider the additional financial benefits and/or costs of other factors like medical/dental/vision insurance, housing and relocation expenses, cost of living in that location, as well as budgeting for every day expenses. Once you have that # in mind, add another 10-15% for things you didn’t count on! Trust me, you will need it.
  4. Additionally make sure to save enough to cover a few months of bills while you’re waiting for your first paycheck. Having extra leave time accrued when you transition out of the services can allow you to “double dip” if you’re able. Additionally, keep in mind you’ll probably need to buy several new professional outfits, maybe even a whole new wardrobe. Depending on the type of position you secure, it could cost between $500-$3000 dollars just for clothes! Go ahead and buy a decent suit/outfit for interviews but wait till you know what your office dress code will be before buying any additional items you might not need after all.
  5. If things are more of a struggle for you financially, here are a few ideas to help the money burden. If you qualify, be sure to apply for the VA program. It isn’t an easy process but if you have any service connected medial issues it could help. It can also be a factor in your advantage when applying for any federal (and many state) jobs.  You have 1 year from your last day in the military to apply for the benefits, and that ensures they are prorated back to your separation date. You can also enroll in college courses. Right now, it only takes 1 on campus class to get the BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) associated with the VA program.  Finally, consider exploring your state’s unemployment laws if things get too bad. It is no one’s first choice, especially to a military mentality, but it is there for a reason when times are tough.


In conclusion, I would remind you that each state has a Department of Veterans Affairs that is state-run and separate from the federal VA. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of programs in each state that help those who have served obtain gainful employment. So it does not matter if you’re a nurse, infantry man, combat photographer, or even a computer technician there is a position out there for you! And when your outlook seems dimmest remember what Churchill said:  “If you are going through hell, keep going.”

Written by Amanda Sowards, Search Consultant, East Coast. For more great tips on hiring strategies and to discuss our current opportunities, reach out to one of CareNational’s top recruiters! Call her at 1.800.974.4828 x110, or

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