3 Tips for Vets to Thrive in the Civilian Labour Market

There are plenty of reasons to be both optimistic and nervous about your transition back into the civilian labour force. The statistic concerning veteran pay once back in the civilian world are all over the place, with some doing very well and others seriously struggling. Doing well in the civilian labour market is all about understanding your strengths and compensating for your weaknesses. With that said, below are 3 tips for vets to thrive in the civilian labour market. 

Sell Your Military Service Well

Many veterans are pumped up by administrators and sometimes even COs who praise the many labor market-relevant talents and virtues of their military service and how transferrable they will be once they start looking for a job in the civilian sector. Unfortunately, this is only partially true. A veteran does come out of the military with a variety of highly transferable talents that look excellent on a CV and can impress recruiters and hiring managers. What is left out of this otherwise encouraging reality, however, is that in order to avoid unemployment, you must be able to market those abilities and competencies in a way that makes sense for the positions you are looking for.

Selling yourself on your CV and cover letter, as well as during an interview, requires self-promotional abilities, and to be a successful self-promoter, you must understand what will resonate with the individual or people you are interacting with. There are several books on self-promotion available that all veterans should study before joining the civilian work market.

Your Network Can Make Things So Much Easier

The great majority of all jobs are found and landed through networking, which has been a reality of life for quite some time. You may have heard it claimed that “your network is your net worth,” and while this is an exaggeration, it is similar to the old adage that “it’s all about who you know,” which, regrettably, remains true now more than ever.

As a result, when it comes to seeking a job after leaving the military, veterans must be willing and able to build a network. There are groups dedicated to providing vets with networking opportunities, but it is primarily up to you to expand your network. Don’t be hesitant to seek out friends and family, and if you have solid working ties or friendships with senior officers from your military career, you should make the most of these connections.

Learn Common Digital Programs Before Applying

When a person joins the military, they are generally assigned to jobs and specializations to which they will devote their attention for the duration of their service. However, when these same people enter the civilian labor market, more than half of them want to do something entirely different.

Over the last decade, the velocity of digital change and transformation has been staggering, with most office occupations requiring a degree of digital competency with a diverse set of communication and collaboration tools that many veterans may lack.

When it comes to these digital communication and collaboration skills, being out of the workforce for an extended period of time puts you at a disadvantage, so spending some time familiarizing yourself with the commonly used programs and digital tools, preferably before leaving the service, will put you in good stead.


Transitioning into or back into the civilian labour market is one of the most stressful and often difficult things a vet will do post-service. Keep the above considerations and tips in mind, however, and you stand a much better chance of making that process as seamless and painless as possible.