Military to Civilian



I am on active duty in the US Army and am about to retire after 20 years of service. I am a NON-Commissioned Officer with 16 plus years of leadership and management experience with as many as 20 personnel and $20,000,000 dollars worth of government equipment under my direct influence in the most extreme of situations. I also have a B.S.B.A with a concentration of General Management. What are some of my career opportunities in the Chicagoland area?

Congratulations on your retirement! There may be many career opportunities in the Chicago area for someone with your strong skills, and I commend you for starting to think about it now. (You didn't say exactly when all this will happen.)

The answer isn't so simple. . .Here are some suggestions that may get you started on the right track.


  1. Look back over your army career and begin to think about those skills you have gained that will transfer in the workplace. Develop a list of selected accomplishments that will be of value to your next employer.
  2. A good way to begin to think about this would be to research civilian jobs to see what the requirements are, what language is used and begin to formulate a strategy that will highlight your skills and experiences and make them of value - in language that matches "civilian talk." This is often a challenge in the military to civilian transfer.
  3. Prepare a resume that highlights your strengths in those areas and directs you to your new objective (which you have clarified from your research).
  4. Begin to research companies that may be a good fit for your skill set - and begin to focus your search toward those industries. You may have to do some informational interviewing
  5. Learn to write a strong cover letter, network to uncover opportunities and start to meet people in the field that may be able to help and support your search.
  6. Apply!

There is much written about people with a military background who want to transition into an "encore" career in civilian life. Some sites in our military section may be very helpful. Also check out a general job aggregator like and type in military. You may also find some positions that look for people with military background. Also go for the strength!

A good book to check out at your local library that may also provide some good information is Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide: The Essential Job Search Handbook for Service Members by Janet I. Farley (Impact Publications, 2005).

Thanks for your service to our country and good luck as you move into civilian life!
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