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Veteran at the Ready

What’s it like to transition from the military to building technology for government-to-citizen communications? In honor of Veteran’s Day, one of our veterans at GovDelivery, Joshua Hill, is taking over the blog today to offer his insights on moving from a military mindset to civilian success.


 First things first: as a veteran, you are exactly what employers are looking for.

You know all about getting the job done.  In the military, mission success is a critical element of daily life, and that’s a mindset that will transition flawlessly into your civilian career.  When it comes to everyday basics like reporting on time and being prepared for the job, you’ve already been trained to consider these givens, and not something you just do most of the time.

You look sharp.  All those months of grooming uniforms for stray threads and aligning ribbons will be put to immediate use.  As they say, look the part, be the part—and you definitely resemble the role.  At the end of the day, a suit is just another uniform.

You’re dedicated.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself working with like-minded individuals—but you might be surprised to learn that some balk at the idea of coming in early or staying late to get the job done.  You have a definite edge in that you’ve been practicing that lifestyle for quite some time.

So you’ve got the right mindset, uniform, and habits.  What’s next?

Historically, this is the tricky part.  Veterans sometimes find themselves frustrated that their military skills don’t match up with job listings.  Frequently this is a semantic issue—the parlance is different, so you’ll need to adjust your thinking to match.  Not to worry: there are a bevy of resources to address this very issue. (If you haven’t already, consider reviewing the Transition Assistance Program materials.)

After you translate your existing skillsets, how do you match them to a job you’ll be excited to take on?

Transparency has become increasingly important in the civilian workforce, which has given rise to many useful tools for job seekers.  For example, Glassdoor lists current and previous employee reviews of businesses, so you can get the insider impression of what everyday life is like.  Hired offers a flipped-interview model: you list your credentials, and the website brings potential employers to you.  (Occasionally they offer signing bonuses as well.)

In a pinch, don’t underestimate the importance of the personal touch, too.  Hiring firms (or “head hunters” as they’re sometimes known) build their business on matching your talents to best-fit employers, and can be invaluable for resume-writing, interview practice, and business introductions.

Ultimately, your professional transition is as all things in life: you get out of it what you put into it.  Remember your training, work hard, and give it your all, and you’ll find yourself in a job that almost makes you forget to miss being in the military.


P.S. I definitely work with like-minded individuals.  Interested in joining the team?  Check out our available positions here!

Joshua Hill is a software engineer working to improve web experiences for government employees everywhere.  He is a Navy veteran and a Penn State graduate, for better or for worse.