Vets Checklist: Planning for Civilian Life


Here is a list that briefly describes things to do before you separate or retire from the military:

  • Make key decisions early, like whether to continue working, change careers, or volunteer.
  • Decide on your future goals and make plans to achieve them, while you have the career stability provided by the military.
  • Figure out how much income you think you’ll need and make a plan for how to meet your needs during the transition to civilian life.
  • Make a list of your job skills and interests; consider taking a test, such as the vocational interest inventory, to learn how your skills and interests fit into the current job market. The resources listed in DB101’s Getting Past the Myths article can help with this.
  • Create a resume that you can update and customize for job applications.
  • Make a career plan with a list of possible employers in your chosen career field; and then make an alternate plan in case your first career plan falls through or takes longer than you thought.
  • List any training, education, or certification needed for your chosen career field, and look into options like getting financial aid or beginning your classes early.
  • Find out about education benefits you may get under the Post-9/11 Bill or Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). If you enrolled in the Vietnam-era GI Bill, find out how you can convert it to the MGIB. Learn more about VA education benefits.
  • Check career websites for information about posting resumes and doing online job searches.
  • Learn more about the area where you want to live. How is the job market and economy there?
  • Look for jobs in the area where you plan to live. Check online, in newspapers, through word of mouth, or anywhere you find jobs listed. Apply for jobs that interest you and follow up.
  • Join a professional association in your chosen career field and find ways to become involved in the association.
  • Actively network, which means doing things like meeting people in your chosen field and contacting friends who may be able to help you find a job.
  • Attend job fairs as a way of networking and connecting with potential employers.

These are some of the overall steps to consider. Now we’ll take a more in-depth look at:

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