From the Base to Business

From the Base to Business

chuck_connell_vets.jpgThere is often an adjustment period when returning to civilian life following a military career. You’re acclimating yourself to a different pace of life, reconnecting with family and loved ones and trying to find structure in an unstructured world. One of the biggest challenges during this time, though, is often the transition from the military to civilian workforce.

After working in the military for several years, many veterans struggle to find a “regular” job, especially if they had little to no experience in the civilian workforce prior to serving.  This is because veterans have to understand how to translate military skills and duties into layman’s terms, know which programs to seek out and heed advice from other veterans who hold civilian positions they desire. In the article below, we will talk through the initial challenges of transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce, the opportunities veterans should look into and the best advice for those reacclimating themselves to civilian life.

INITIAL CHALLENGES

One of the first and most recognizable challenges one may face when returning to the civilian workforce – or civilian life in general – is the lack of structure. In the military, there are strict rules that you are expected to follow, and everyone follows those rules, no questions asked. Punctuality is a top priority, so if you are early, you are on time; if you are on time, you are late; and being late is unacceptable. That said, the lack of urgency in the civilian workforce and the lax approach to structure can be frustrating and confusing for many veterans.

Additionally, there are stark differences in terms of workplace communication that can lead to misunderstandings. In the military, the mission comes first, meaning interpersonal communication and emotional awareness tends to fall to the wayside. Similarly, military communication tends to focus on clarity and precision, whereas civilian communication focuses on relationship building and trust. Many veterans have to relearn practices that will help them effectively communicate with their coworkers and avoid coming off as blunt or harsh. This skill may take a great deal of patience, but it can garner lasting relationships that will prove beneficial in the long run.

TOP PROGRAMS AND OPPORTUNITIES

Another initial challenge that many veterans face following a career in the military is the feeling of not knowing where to start. Thankfully, there are several free resources available to veterans that can help them with the transition, including the Veterans Employment Center, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, to name a few.

Another opportunity that many veterans are exploring is franchise ownership. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, nearly 25 percent of veterans are interested in business ownership. The benefit to investing in a franchise concept is that there is already a set of systems and processes in place that makes it easier to enter into a market. Additionally, many franchise concepts offer a variety of support programs for veterans.

You’ve Got Maids specifically offers a discount on the initial franchise fee for honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Moreover, the residential cleaning company has been named to Franchise Business Review’s Top Franchises for Veterans List. This inclusion was based on the satisfaction of You’ve Got Maids’ military veteran franchise owners regarding critical areas of the franchise system, including training and support, operations, franchisor/franchisee relations and financial opportunities. That said, finding a franchise concept that takes the time to recognize and seek out veteran franchise owners shows that they’re invested in the success of military veterans.

BEST ADVICE

When applying for jobs in the civilian workforce, it is essential that you do not assume anyone understands the military jargon you use. Avoid using acronyms on a resume and only use military jargon that you know the average civilian is familiar with. Additionally, if you have skills that are not readily transferrable, submit a cover letter with your resume. You may feel as though you are over-explaining, but it can help an employer better understand your experiences.

Overall, know that there will be challenges you can’t anticipate, especially when it comes to civilian employment. Additionally, seek opportunities that you are truly interested in pursuing. Many veterans often struggle to redefine themselves following a military career, but finding a new job is not about redefinition. Rather, it is about understanding how you fit into this new role and lifestyle and finding a career that fulfills your personal and professional goals.

Chuck Connell is the co-owner of You’ve Got Maids in Hilton Head, South Carolina alongside Mike Burt. Prior to opening his You’ve Got Maids business, Chuck spent 32 years in the aviation industry, 25 of which were spent working for a Fortune 500 company. Chuck also served in the United States Marine Corps from 1978 to 1982, where he spent a majority of his time working as an ejection seat mechanic in Beaufort, South Carolina.