Master These 10 Details for a Successful Military-to-Civilian Transition

military to civilian transition
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From fashion to conversational politeness, it’s the little things that count, and will be appreciated. Here are 10 often overlooked details that will ensure your success as you make the military-to-civilian transition.

1. Look the part

Let’s face it, people are predominantly visual, and first impressions are clinchers. No need to take out a personal loan to dress tasteful, but spending money on well-made clothing is a great investment.  Hate putting outfits together? Let professionals do it for you and get the outfits delivered right to your door. For girls, check out Stitch Fix; for guys, Trunk Club‘s got you covered. For a quick lesson on how colors of clothes matter, don’t miss this article on how to ramp up your wear more visually.  I highly recommend mastering the art of business casual and you can learn more by reading: Out of Military Uniform: What the Heck is Business Casual.

2. Talk the part

It’s a fact that most human vocabularies are not as expansive as they once were, but no need to study a dictionary or thesaurus (unless you thought the latter was a species of dinosaur); there are a few simple ways to express yourself without sounding like average Joe or Jane. For example, when someone asks you how you are, the reply: “I am well, thanks, and you?” versus “I’m good…” sounds a whole lot better — and arguably, grammatically correct. After swapping “well” for “good,” you’ll notice how many other people will adopt “well” after hearing your smoother rendition. There are an onslaught of common speaking mistakes that we make on a daily basis, and even more — often brash — dialects (say NO to Yosemite Sam) and colloquialisms. The more you can clean up your vocab, and manner of speaking (say YES to Miss Manners) the smoother you’ll sound. And don’t forget to kick that military jargon to the curb!

3. Ask people questions

People — not Google. For those who have been on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, you know how important elders are to local communities; why not in America? Remember to respect those that have been on this earth longer than you; they might just know a thing or two — learn from them! Talking to people is an art in and of itself, and it’s in your best interest to improve it. One of the best ways to begin a conversation is simply ask a question. You’ll be surprised how much much you can learn from other humans face to face.

4. Show interest

Believe it or not, this can be as simple as listening. Everyone wants to squeeze their thoughts in a conversation, but if you fail to show interest — through active listening — and try to control the conversation, others will become disinterested in what you’ve got to say entirely. Find patience, listen, and show (don’t tell) that you care.

5. Relax

It’s contagious!  You’ve put in application after application and have set up accounts on recruiting portals that you didn’t even know existed. You’re losing steam and starting to think you may never actually find a job. What are you supposed to do now? Relax and read 5 Ways to Stay Positive During Your Job Search.

6. Read

It’s a proven fact that reading not only broadens your brainpower — and vocabulary — but also increases your chances for success. If your new line of work involves writing, it’s like the poet Ezra Pound said: “To write well, read well.”  You’ve seen the lists from the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed: “20 Books to Read in Your Lifetime,” “The Top 5 Books of 2015 That Will Change Your Life,” etc. Well, here are the five books every transitioning military vet should read.

7. Watch documentaries

Not a big reader? No big deal. Thanks to the swell of documentaries ready and waiting, you can learn just about anything you’d like. Engaging in conversations about history, history, current events and progressive thought makes for great ice-breaking in a job interview; if it veers in that direction, be ready for it.

8. Exercise

The ancient Greek philosophers were keen on exercising the mind, but a close runner-up was physical fitness. Get your gym on; or at least take walks (walking is actually the best form of exercise for “bipedalers” like us). If you did land a career and want to stay Army Strong  Fitting in fitness at work can be a challenge for all of us at times, especially if you have a desk job. Here are a few amazing things you can do for yourself and your waistline, all while increasing your personal productivity at work. Read 5 Ways to Fit Fitness in at Work for exercises you can do even if you have a cubical desk job.

9. Don’t settle

This happens to people way too much, and often, once realized, it’s too late. “It’s never too late” or “better late than never” are not the most logical or realistic expressions. If you want to be happy and remain happy, you must first be happy with yourself — which can’t happen if you settle for anything less than what makes you happy. And when it comes to choosing a career, this is a hallmark. For more advice, see how to balance your wants and needs when choosing your career for love or money.  We aren’t here just to get you a job. Though we do have the best career resources for veterans  on writing a resume, getting an interview and accepting a job offer, we also cover everything you need to know about the corporate environment and progressing in your career. We got your back the whole way through.

10. Manage your time

All told, there isn’t much you can accomplish if you don’t learn time management. This may seem like a no-brainer to veterans, but civilian life is a creature of a different color, and time will pass you by if you don’t get a handle on time. Make the most of every minute and try your best to make them regret-free, but keep in mind that life is about making choices, and often, making a decision is better than not making one at all. Even if it turns out to be the wrong choice at least you learned what not to do, versus never knowing either way, eh?

In the military, we’ve been trained to dress, work, and even negotiate.  If you are ready to make a change we wrote a post about the most common military “pet peeves” that can be turned into positives while adjusting to civilian life.


A successful military to civilian transition should always begin with our industry leading  Transition Readiness Quiz

Take our short quiz to see how prepared you really are for your transition out of the military. We’ll measure your readiness when it comes to your education path, career track or if you need help figuring out exactly which direction you should head. Click here to see how prepared you are!


READ NEXT: 7 Key Military Life Hacks That Matter In Civilian Life

military to civilian transition



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