If you were offered an opportunity to take a job that might not be exactly what you're looking for, would you take it?
Of course, you could pass up the opportunity. But while it may not be your ideal, you still could be passing up a good step in the right direction.
You, like many other veterans, may separate from the military with the thought of immediately returning to work, only to find yourself fixated on finding the "perfect" job. We like to think such jobs exist — and believe the moment we leave military service will be a great time to find it.
However, veterans are finding that their military experience may not be enough to walk right into a civilian job that matches their needs in every major way. When offered a less-than-perfect job, think through the potential consequences before rejecting it.
Some thoughts that can come into play and cause you to pass up potentially great opportunities:
Salary: My years of military experience should earn me a better starting salary than what they're offering.
Location: I'd like to be close to home with a short commute, preferably at one location, not traveling around like I did in the military.
Position: Seems like an entry-level position, and I'm above that with what I learned in the military.
Schedule: Rotating shifts and possibly working on weekends will get in the way of what I do in my spare time.
Although all these thoughts are understandable, it's possible to pass up a job today only to find yourself still struggling to find a foothold months later. With so many veterans and civilians trying to find employment, the not-so-perfect opportunity could be a decent starting point to fatten up your resume with civilian employment, learn about promotions or other positions with a company, and network with others in your chosen civilian field.
Having served in uniform, you may have to remind yourself what you went through working for the military. Long hours, rotating shifts, stationed in places you may have never imagined, all while getting paid by rank and not work performance, and oh yeah, don't forget about those government-paid trips to combat zones. These are just a few of the sacrifices you made while serving in uniform — and in that context, you may reconsider the initial impulse to turn down a job that may not fit your needs perfectly right at the outset of your civilian career.
Returning to the civilian world will have its perks when it comes to choosing what to do with your life. Deciding not to take a job won't get you court-martialed in the civilian sector, but when you're faced with having to cover life expenses (food, shelter, provide for family, paying bills), taking a position that isn't everything you dreamed of — at least for a while as you get yourself situated and plot your next moves — may make sense.
Stepping back to move forward may be just the right strategy to help you get on the path to that ultimate dream job.
Steven Maieli is the founder of TransitioningVeteran.com, which highlights links to federal, state, for-profit and nonprofit veterans benefits and other resources. He also writes a blog on transitioning veterans' issues at www.transitioningveteran.com/wordpress.