If you are considering leaving the military to join the civilian work force, then finding the right job is probably your ultimate goal. As you search for the "right fit" it is important to keep in mind things like retirement benefits, job satisfaction and job longevity. You'll learn more about how to enter the civilian workforce in your Transition Assistance Program, but it's never too early to figure out what you value most in a job so you can use that knowledge to evaluate job listings and offers.
Now that you're thinking about leaving the military, you have a number of career options in front of you. Although you may be tempted to plan your next career move based on salary and location alone, also consider how long-term benefits factor into the positions you apply for.
The financial perks of civilian jobs may extend beyond your salary. A full benefits package could include salary, health insurance and a retirement plan. Regardless of how long you plan to work after you leave the military, it's important that you actively save enough money to afford your lifestyle after you retire. Your employer's retirement benefits plan can help you get there.
Retirement benefits plans may include:
- 401(k) plans
- Individual retirement accounts - Roth IRA or traditional IRA
- Company pension plans
Each of these benefits plans has specific requirements and tax implications. A qualified financial counselor at Military OneSource can help you decide which plan would benefit you most, at no cost to you. Then you'll know what to negotiate for when you receive a job offer.
How you feel about your work can influence your overall health and happiness. Career Key's Top Ten Job Expectations list can help you pinpoint what matters most to you about your daily work. As your job search gets underway, refer back to this list to see how each job offer measures up:
- Tasks: The best jobs make good use of your skills, leave you feeling accomplished, and provide you with a schedule that balances your work and personal life.
- Pay and benefits: Desired jobs offer fair, adequate pay and a competitive benefits package.
- Environment: The most satisfied workers have secure jobs at a reputable company, good coworkers and supervisors, opportunities for advancement, and comfortable, stress-free working conditions.
Not all jobs will meet your ideal criteria, but prioritizing ahead of time may help you find the right fit.
If your job provides a salary and benefits that can sustain you through retirement while offering you a sense of fulfillment and contentment, you will likely stay at that job for a long time. Job longevity doesn't have to be your first goal in a job search, but it is worth it to consider how long you would enjoy the job you're doing.
It's common for recently separated service members to try several jobs within a few years of leaving the military, so don't feel pressured to find the perfect job right away. Transitioning to the civilian workforce takes time and perseverance. But if you take the time to consider what a position offers in long term benefits and job satisfaction, you may just land that long term job and satisfying career that you are searching for. Contact Military OneSource for no-cost financial counseling and assistance in planning your transition.