When you are ready to transition from your military career to a civilian lifestyle and job path, focus on developing your networking skills. According to BH Careers International, networking results in half of all new hires. Networking means using your formal and informal contacts to locate a new job and get yourself hired.
Formal contacts include membership organizations or industry-related organizations. Your local VA and the closest Transition Assistance Center are great places to start. You can also join online and local networking and support groups that are directly related to the military and to your specific branch of the military. Join as many different groups as you have time for and can enjoy.
Informal contacts include your friends, family members and anyone you might know casually like a neighbor or the guy that fixes your car. You never know when someone they know might be looking to hire someone exactly like you.
When designing your networking strategy make sure that it fits your personality. If you are naturally a really organized individual make lists of all your professional and personal contacts and go through that list aggressively. If this isn’t your style, such an organized approach will come off as superficial or desperate. Remember that soft sell salesmen actually make as many or more sales than their more aggressive counterparts. The main thing is to let as many people as possible know that you are actively seeking work and are looking for a civilian job.
Networking is about establishing leads and gathering information that will help you find a good job. It is also about learning. You will learn about your prospective civilian industry and how it relates to your military training through networking. If you use this approach you come out ahead whether or not you find a job through your networking efforts. Networking takes time for it to be effective so be patient and keep it up even after you have found a job — you never know when someone you've connected with might call and ask you if you are available later on. Such demand can provide you with a valuable bargaining chip when negotiating salaries and advancing your career in the future.
Networking is also a great tool for reintegrating yourself back into civilian society. Civilian life can seem hollow and dull after the military unless you make a real effort to create a new social environment for yourself. Networking to find a job is one of the best ways to get past this transitional period and get to a place where you feel like you really belong back in the civilian world.