(This is a guest post written by Brian Niswander, the founder of Military-Transition.org. It is not a sponsored post.)
After studying the military-to-civilian transition process for more than a decade, a group of veterans decided to help military families by sharing advice and important lessons from service members and spouses who’ve gone before them. The group (known as Military-Transition.org) collects response to the most important transition and employment related questions through social media and on-line survey tools. Using this information, they developed an interactive website that allows service members to access tailored response based upon their interests, individual situation and military profile (branch, rank, years of service, education and specialty).
“Over the past two years, thousands have told us about their transition experiences, challenges and success stories“, said Brian Niswander, Founder of Military-Transition.org. “The insights we’ve discovered are significant and we’re using this information to help service members and families navigate their journey and gain meaningful employment.“ According to their research, almost half (48%) of service members underestimate the difficulty associated with transitioning back into civilian life, while more than half (59%) indicate their transition took more time than expected. For many service members, transition back into civilian life is like crossing into the unknown. Military-Transition.org helps reduce the level of unknown by providing accurate and timely information or what they call “transition intelligence” to reduce the uncertainty and help guide important decision.
One of the most important observations from the research to-date includes the elements of a successful transition, which are:
1) start preparing early for the transition, 2) have a plan, 3) network, 4) learn to translate your military skills and 5) be patient. “Based upon our research and personal experience, we know the transition can be difficult. These steps are the best way to minimize the confusion associated with transitioning into the unknown”, said Niswander.
Another important take-away is the importance of attending the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) more than once. According to the study, participants who attend more than once are 57% more likely to indicate the training was “extremely” or “very” helpful. The team at Military-Transition.org recommends that members attend TAP when they have around 24-months before transition and again in their final 9 to 12-months of service.
“One of the most important yet overlooked aspects of a successful transition is learning how to network effectively. I can’t emphasize this enough. Members should start building a network early in their career with mentors and coaches that are in and out of uniform”, said Niswander. “Good mentors and coaches will help with important career decisions and share advice to help you achieve career goals. If you haven’t already identified a mentor, I encourage you to contact organizations such as Veterati to begin the process.” Another important aspect of having a mentor is the role they play in helping you learn how to translate military skills so that civilian employers understand how these can add value to their organization.
In addition to metric data, Military-Transition.org also gathers text based survey comments and shares these with military families. The examples provided by veterans in our survey are candid and provide hard-hitting insights for today’s military. According to Niswander, “our surveys don’t required participants to include names or contact information, which encourages honest responses about their personal experiences and challenges.”
The team at Military-Transition.org recently began a new study (survey link) which looks at employment challenges and identifies best practices for hiring and retaining military spouses. Niswander said that responses to date are informative, but stressed the need for additional participation in the survey to increase confidence in the results.
“We need current and former military spouses to participate in the anonymous survey to ensure we gather accurate and relevant information.” Please take a few minutes and share your thoughts and experience to help other military spouses.
Today’s military spouses face employment challenges which can range from not fully utilizing their skills and experience (under-employment) to extended periods of unemployment, stress and anxiety. The study looks at these issues along with exploring best practices that can be reapplied to help others.
Results from this study will be shared using an interactive website, similar to the veteran transition study on their website (link). Spouses will be able to view metric data along with comments from others about their employment issues, challenges and success stories.
In addition to the research discussed, Military-Transition.org delivers one of the most comprehensive lists of transition and employment resources available help military families. More than 160 organizations, tools, training programs, recruiters, advice, employers, and other links are available on their RESOURCES page.
Brian Niswander is a military-to-civilian transition expert and the founder of Military-Transition.org. For the past decade, Brian has helped service members on their transition out of uniform and into the civilian workforce based upon his personal experiences and extensive research with the veteran community. His website (www.Military-Transition.org) provides information, data and resources to help the military community return to civilian life. Service members, veterans, spouses and employers are encouraged to share their experiences and utilize the comprehensive resources available on his website.