By Julia Park and Jenny Hale, Fort Knox SFL-TAPOctober 27, 2017
It takes time for Soldiers to figure out what they want to do after leaving active duty. At the Soldier for Life -- Transition Assistance Program transitioning Soldiers are given the foundation to become successful in civilian life through job-search training, resume preparation, veteran benefit briefings and other civilian resources.
SFL-TAP helps transitioning Soldiers explore what they want to do after active duty by encouraging them to consider some of the things that involve transitioning to a civilian career. This can include the time that it takes to prepare, including the job search process, writing a resume, networking, interviewing and purchasing civilian attire. Transition is not an overnight process or something that can be planned in a week or a month.
While transitioning Soldiers may not need to spend an entire day writing their resume, they might allocate an hour for gathering work-history information such as a verification of military experience and training or a transcript from the Joint Services Transcript. Set aside time to write and format this resume, plus time to have it reviewed by an SFL-TAP counselor. Even if the Soldier has written a resume in the past, resumes are ever-changing and need to be updated and revised over the years.
The job search also takes time. Soldiers can easily spend hours applying to online jobs in a night. A recent survey from Hiring Our Heroes stated that transitioning service members who start the job search process six months or more before transition were more likely to get a job before transitioning. Those who waited to start searching for a job until after they transitioned were more likely to earn less than $50,000 per year. It's important to spread the job search process out so that it does not become overwhelming.
Finding proper interview and job attire can be a long process. Job seekers will need several new outfits to make it through the first couple of weeks at a new job. It is more financially attainable to spread this process out over time.
Once the interview process starts, preparing for it is important. Before the interview, job seekers need to research what the company does, with whom they will be interviewing and the position and the role within the company. Come prepared with tailored resumes, purchase proper interview attire, and bring a professional portfolio.
When a job seeker does get an interview, it is proper to send a thank you note. Taking the time to send a thank you note can make the difference between getting the job and not when a hiring manager is looking to make a decision between two qualified candidates.
SFL-TAP encourages transitioning Soldiers to start the program 18 months prior to transition or 24 months prior for retirees. Soldiers complete a myriad of mandatory classes and have the opportunity to take advantage of several resources. Soldiers who take the time to attend SFL-TAP early and go often are more prepared for the civilian sector. Transitioning Soldiers who take the time to properly prepare for interviews and spend time searching jobs tend to be more successful. To learn more about SFL-TAP, visit sfl-tap.army.mil.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in November 2007 in the Turret as "Job seekers need to invest time" by Julia Park.