So your spouse is preparing to leave the military, now what? If your spouse is retiring, they should begin the process at least 2 years out; if Ending Term of Service (ETS), 18 months to 1 year out. The sooner the better.
- Get signed up for the Transition Assistance Program or TAP. If at all possible, go with your spouse ! Two heads are better than one and four ears are better than two. There is a lot of information thrown at you during this week-long TAP course. You and your spouse have different focuses so you might catch something important that was not on your spouse’s radar and visa versa.
Take TAP more than once and take advantage of the services offered through the counselors, employer days, and additional workshops offered.
- Meet with a financial counselor as far out from transitioning as you can. Take a look at your savings, you should have at least six months worth of your salary easily accessible. Sit down together and create a budget. Determine how much your spouse will need to make (and if you are moving elsewhere, how much you will need to make).
What do you need to do now to prepare financially for the transition? The sooner you start work on this the better.
- Let people know! Start building a network. The service member has a free year of premium LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/veterans). The number one way people find a job is to network.
Both of you should be searching for work and building a professional network. Networking is key!
- Target your job search. Determine what field and location. From there, select about 20 employers that interest you and start building that network! Did I mention, networking is key?
Narrowing your job search will make it easier to find the right position. Check out the book, “2 Hour Job Search,” for some great techniques.
- Create targeted resumes (notice that is plural) with accomplishments (what, how, and the results/impact) related to the positions. Get help from the TAP professionals or your family center. There are also a number of organizations that will provide assistance free of charge such as Hire Our Heroes, Corporate America Supports You, the National Guard Employment Network, and the Veteran Employment Center.
Understand that generally applications can begin about six months out for federal and some contract positions, three months out for most corporate work.
The sooner you start the transition process, the better prepared your family will be and the less stressful the transition will be. Know you are not alone and take advantage of your resources!
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