by Jen Hadac, Senior Candidate Recruiter and Conference Event Manager
More and more service members are looking to prepare themselves years in advance for their post-military life and these dedicated folks are looking for guidance. If that’s you, we are here to help with an article regarding how military service members can best prepare for the future NOW!
Everyone’s post military goals will be different but there is one simple thing that all service members should consider doing as they progress through their military career: SAVE.
In my years of recruiting I have never seen a leave package quite like the military. Thirty days accrued for each year of service! Starting Day 1! The norm in the civilian sector is usually 1-2 weeks, which starts accruing at some point from the first day to one year from your start date.
I know from my days in the Navy that, between deployments, duty days and just standard operational commitments, getting time off can be challenging. Bank as much as you can! The military does have a use it or lose it policy but you can usually bank up to 60 days per year (sometimes more with waivers). Having leave dates built up towards the end of your service commitment can give you the time you need to be able to take off for interviews, hiring events, job fairs, etc., or, if you are fortunate enough to land a job while you are still active duty, you can roll right into your new career and work while you are on terminal leave, thus banking two paychecks!
We’ve all heard of the “I Love Me” binders. That special collection you have of all your awards, certificates, etc. You don’t have one?!?! Get one!
Your service records should contain the important pieces of your career through the military but let’s face it – no matter how awesome your admin department is, things get lost. Make it a habit of making copies of all your evaluations/FITREPS/OERs, your awards, special certificates, qualification history, etc. Basically anything that marks a special or unique moment in your career. Even make copies of your medical record yearly, if you can. Trust me, this habit will pay dividends when the time comes for you to separate. You will need this information for a variety of reasons, VA appointments, resume writing, etc.
I’m not going to elaborate too much on this one. This is something everyone should do regardless of their military status. What I will say is that having a cushion will give you the peace of mind you need to know your financial obligations will be met while you are going through the transition. It will also ensure that you are not forced into a position you’re not 100% committed to because you have bills to pay and that steady paycheck is about to stop.
In keeping with the theme, it’s important to ensure you save and further develop your skills. Stay relevant. Take every opportunity to further yourself now so that you are that much more marketable once you separate.
If you are given the chance to attend a specialized school, i.e. mico-minature repair, Master Training Specialist, any specialty technical school, etc., TAKE IT! More and more employers are developing veteran hiring initiatives and with that veteran focused hiring comes the knowledge of key training that prior veteran hires have had. “This incredible veteran employee had XYZ training. We need more folks with XYZ training.” Educate yourself now on what employers in your field of interest are looking for and do what you can to match those desires. The more you bring to the table, the better.