Job Search Advice – Ask Chad About Careers, Part 5

Ask Chad about Careers, Part 5  |

By Chad Sowash  |  chief experience officer at RecruitMilitary and a former infantry drill sergeant in the United States Army  |

Published in the November/December 2010 issue of print Search & Employ®  |

Chad Sowash answers career questions submitted by men and women who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life, veterans who already have civilian work experience, members of the National Guard and reserve forces, and military spouses.

I am a field artillery platoon sergeant in the Army, and will be getting out in about three months. I’d like to a get a civilian job working with military equipment. Any ideas?

My first suggestion would be to get out of your comfort zone and look at civilian equipment as well. Secondly, I would suggest signing with the Reserve Component, which would provide your fix of military equipment while expanding your horizons on the civilian side. The key here is to make you marketable to a broader sense of employers, and not try to compete for merely a handful of jobs in comparison.

I am an Air Force veteran, in for seven years, and was a Fuels Journeyman. As I am not looking for a career in that field and want to pursue my education. I know about the Post- 9/11 GI Bill, but have no clue what I want to study in college.  I’d appreciate some assistance in choosing a college path that is right for me.

First you need to enroll, then get your 9/11 GI Bill paperwork started and credit hours rolling to knock out the basic required non-major specific classes. Second, having someone else choose your career path is NEVER a good idea. Here are a couple of ideas:

 1) Visit some local companies that you might want to work for. Ask them what types of jobs are growing and the types of skill sets and education required. If you are further interested, ask if they have any on-the-job-training programs. The state may pay a portion of your wages while you get up to speed and educated. This is a huge win for the employer, who scores a potential employee-in-training with government funds possibly paying the bulk of your wage.

2) Try out the Department of Labor’s newest tool or go to and click on mySkills myFuture. This site can help you search through jobs with the ability to see if they have a bright and growing future/longevity.

In the end, you need to research and choose what’s best for you and your situation.

I am retired Air Force in Georgia. I’ve been in program /project management for most of my career, and am searching locally for a similar position, but without success. Any hints regarding employment opportunities? I have a very high clearance that was renewed in 2007, but wonder if it is still active— I’ve heard that there is a two-year window from the last use.

First, let’s tackle the clearance question. If you have a Top-Secret, it needs to be renewed every five years. A Secret clearance must be renewed every ten years. After you have separated from the military, you have a 24- month window for reactivation. If you are seeking employment with a federal contractor, they can sponsor your clearance, although DoD will handle the reactivation process. Federal contractors who hire for security clearances are generally well aware of the process and timeframes.

You may NOT be able to find the same type of job you were doing in the military locally, and it may never exist locally. So, you may have to make a decision on the job or the locale. If you don’t mind moving, expand your specific job search nationwide. If you are rooted to your current locale, you may need to change professions and go back to school. No matter, you should use your 9/11 GI Bill. FREE school means a boost in wages, and may broaden your spectrum of opportunity.

I’m a military police investigator with operations experience. I am interested in computers, but I have no formal computer training. I’d appreciate any ideas to jump-start my career in this field.

Much like the advice I provided to our Air Force Journeyman friend, research what companies want locally before you go back to school and start tooling up your skill-sets. Do not solely take the advice of your local university and/or tech school. Get verification from the actual job market instead of listening to your academic institutions. Unfortunately, many are not as connected to true employer needs.

I am a reservist who just finished three months of training in the reserves for heavy equipment with objective of finding civilian work. I recently finished six years active duty with two tours in Iraq. I have applied for over 100 jobs with no answer and don’t know what my next step should be.

Unfortunately, many military schools do not translate into civilian certification, which means the candidate must find the requirements and make up the balance to achieve certification. The United States military does not focus on your post-enlistment career marketability. Rather, the military trains you to their standards and works almost entirely outside of normal civilian curriculum. That means you will have to jump into schooling to bridge the gap, whether you have the experience and ability or not. Civilian jobs have their own standards and requirements. Until the military embraces those standards, post-enlistment marketability and finding jobs will unfortunately not be as easy as your civilian counterparts. Because of these gaps, there are many training and assistance programs where transitioning military qualify, which is why every veteran should reach out to their veteran’s representative at their local state employment office for guidance.

Getting a job in a rough economy is not easy for anyone, let alone transitioning military personnel. Keep in mind that employers are looking for loyalty, discipline, and many of the qualities engrained by military and team-oriented training. Use your strengths and the training and aid provided to work on your weaknesses, and any employer will soon be knocking down your door.

Drive on!





About the Author

This article was written by Chad Sowash