Ask These 5 Questions Before Transitioning Into a Civilian Career

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Category: Support

Posted on November 9, 2017

Making the change from military to civilian life can be tough, especially for those who aren’t sure what they want to do outside of their service. Assessing your strengths and utilizing them in the next chapter of your life will lead to a successful, fulfilled life as a civilian. Before starting your transition to civilian life, review these questions to identify the possible steps for your next career.

1. What are my strengths?

Did you enjoy your job in the military? Do you think the skills used in that role would transfer well into your next role? If so, look for similar roles in the workforce. But don’t put your other strengths to waste because you’re comfortable in your old job. Career exploration can lead to great discoveries. Try different career aptitude tests to discover your strengths.

2. What is my dream job?

What types of jobs have always appealed to you? In what professions do you see yourself excelling? Is it something you have had experience with in the past? Is it something completely new to you?

If you’re interested in learning more about different industries, make sure to contact your state’s VA office and speak to a career counselor. If you are a Columbia Southern University student or alumnus, you can also contact CSU’s Career Services Department to find a career that suits you.

3. How can I apply these strengths to my dream job?

Once deciding on your next career, evaluate the skills necessary to land a job in that field. Were you overseeing contractors or other military members during your service? That could easily transfer into management and leadership experience. Did you handle important information or complicated weapons while on duty? This can be translated into a knowledge of equipment, policies and procedures and handling of sensitive information.

Use O*Net’s Crosswalks function to de-militarize your resume and put it into civilian terms. You can also utilize the Department of Labor’s Workshop on how to transition from the military to civilian workforce. If you are a CSU student or alumnus, the CSU Career Services Department can help you with LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, job applications, interviews and more.

4. Do I have the experience?

After researching the job, you may discover the need for more education or experience in the field before hiring. Look through job descriptions for the desirable education levels, certifications and experience required for your next career.

You can find resources to bolster your credentials through degree programs and continuing education at CSU. Veteran students at CSU also have access to many military-focused resources, including mentors.

5. How can I assimilate into the industry?

Join LinkedIn industry groups and find someone who would allow you to shadow them during the day at their job. Find literature from your field, including industry blogs, books and conferences and find ways to network with those with similar career interests to share opportunities and news.


Transitioning to the civilian working world can be confusing if you don’t have the right resources at your fingertips. But you have faced much worse, and Columbia Southern University is here to help. Find out more about our military resources at

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