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Top 10 Tips to Workforce Transition

By Larry Broughton  

When one door closes, a grand boulevard opens—such is the journey from military to civilian workforce. And who says it needs to be a solemn march? Let’s face it: swapping combat boots for slip-on loafers can feel like stepping into an alternate universe where ‘uniform’ often means a questionable collection of ties. So, let’s navigate this transition with a dose of inspiration and a solid plan. Here are the top 10 tips to successfully march into the civilian workforce.

Embrace Your Inner Hero

Your service-related skills are the superhero cape you get to wear in any industry. Problem-solving? Check. Budget wizardry? Double-check. Leading a team while under caffeine deprivation? That’s the kind of resilience companies dream of at night.

Don’t Get Boxed In

Avoid pigeonholing yourself into the same role you had in the service if that’s not your aspiration. The civilian sector is your oyster, and who doesn’t like a little variety in their diet? Go try new things!

Know Your Value

You are the Swiss Army knife in a drawer full of butter knives. Employers long for candidates who don’t just show up but show up with a can-do spirit, ready to rally toward a vision and mission. You’re not just another suit—you’re the full armor.

Get a Civilian Sherpa

Transitioning is like exploring a new continent. Having a guide is priceless. Organizations like Talents ASCEND (talentsascend.com) are an example of the compass that helps translate ‘squad leader’ to ‘team motivator extraordinaire’. Founder and CEO Robyn Grable states, “Talents ASCEND eases the transition and translates the skills that service members possess and matches them with the employers’ skills they need.”

Observe, Adapt and Overcome

Consider the corporate world as a new terrain to recon. Learn the language (pro-tip: ‘synergy’ is apparently vital), decode the dress code and avoid using acronyms, military time or standing at parade rest in front of your interviewer or supervisor. And for goodness’ sake, refrain from responding to emails with “Roger that”—unless your boss is actually named Roger.

Network Like It’s a Reunion

It’s not just what you know or even who you know, but about who knows you and that you’re on the job hunt. Connection is key to securing that next career. Consider platforms like LinkedIn and Alignable to build relationships. Rub elbows, shake hands and maybe even high-five a few people along the way. Grable says, “Talents ASCEND is not a job board and not an agency. We are, instead, a screening platform to connect employers with the military talent they know they need.” So, get out there and be the talent they need to meet.

Never Stop Learning

The military taught you how to learn. Now, apply that to everything from the latest tech to understanding why everyone in the office is obsessed with a show about dancing celebrities. Every new skill is another star on your civilian epaulet.

Patience, Grasshopper

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, your transition may take longer than a 24-hour ops cycle. It’s a marathon, not a sprint—unless it’s one of those days when the coffee machine is broken.

Embrace Tech

You’ve mastered gadgets that could be straight out of a spy movie. Civilian tech should be a walk in the park.

Keep Your Essence

You’re not just leaving the service; you’re adding to your life story. You bring unique values and experiences that will enrich any workplace—like a secret ingredient in the corporate chili.

Incorporating these tips into your transition strategy can turn an intimidating change into an exciting new mission. Remember, companies aren’t just looking for employees; they’re looking for leaders, team members, problem-solvers and those with the fortitude to face challenges head-on—all trademarks of a military career.

As Grable highlights, “The Talents ASCEND organization has hundreds, if not thousands, of matches between employers and transitioning military service members per day, based on skills, location and salaries.” This is no mere chance. It’s a testament to the precision and effectiveness of aligning military-bred skills with civilian needs.

Your transition to the civilian workforce is more than a change of scenery; it’s an opportunity to redefine your mission and apply your formidable skills to new challenges. It’s about building on the legacy of your military service to create success in another sphere. This isn’t just a transition; it’s a transformation, an evolution into yet another version of your remarkable self.

The civilian workforce is ripe for the unique blend of discipline, leadership and adaptability that veterans bring to the table. It’s a landscape where your skills and proven leadership will not only be recognized but revered. Every strategic plan you craft, every team you lead and every challenge you tackle with unflappable spirit adds immense value to your new employer.

In Grable’s words, “Skills-based assessments and hiring practices reduce imposter syndrome,” empowering you to own your new chapter. The camaraderie, shared missions and purpose that defined your military experience have echoes in this new frontier.

March forward with the assurance that your journey continues with every handshake, every interview and every challenge met with resilience. The civilian sector awaits not just a former service member but a future leader.

Your transition is your next great campaign, and you’re well-armed for success. So, march forward with confidence and the knowledge that the same qualities that made you an asset to the military make you an invaluable treasure to the civilian workforce. The world beyond the barracks awaits your leadership, your vision and your indomitable spirit.

Welcome to the next chapter, where your past is your greatest asset, and your future is as bright as the highest commendation. Stand tall. Your new mission awaits, and it’s one you’re fully equipped to excel in.

Larry Broughton is a former U.S. Army Green Beret, best-selling author, award-winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker and leadership mentor. For more information, visit LarryBroughton.com.

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