From service to civilian: ‘Don’t let the intimidation paralyze you’

vets2 From service to civilian: Dont let the intimidation paralyze you

Vietnam War veteran Jim Hauser (C) of Riva, Maryland salutes with fellow veterans during a Veterans Day event on the National Mall November 11, 2013 in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Jarid Watson

At the end of your military career, around your 6-months-to-go mark, that’s when it all starts to sink in.

The nerves, the pressure, the doubts, the excitement surrounding the idea that you will soon have an opportunity to do and be who you want (within reason, of course). It all just kind of hits.

And if you wait until the last minute to prepare for your transition, you will absolutely, positively, regret it.

Contrary to what people who know me might assume, I’m proud to say I did not fall into that trap — and my planning paid off. As anyone who transitions out of the military knows, your number one worry is, “where will I work?”

All of us will have different answers on how to mitigate that fear, but here is what worked for me.

Ready? LinkedIn.

Yes, that social media, professional networking account that was up until now only a placeholder for all the cool things I had accomplished in my military career. It instantly became my best friend while job hunting.

After I wrote my résumé, I sent it out to three or four places a week. I sent it to any company I felt I could transition to and begin a new career. Out of all the places I sent my résumé, three potential employers responded.

Guess what those three had in common?

I didn’t sit back and wait for them to call. Because I knew these jobs were at the top of my list in regards to where I wanted to land, I sent direct messages to the individuals involved in the hiring process and expressed my interest. I directed them to my résumé, my LinkedIn profile and then hoped for the best.

So, here I am –- at –- doing what I love.

Anyone who has ever transitioned out of the military to civilian life knows it’s intimidating. But you can’t let the intimidation paralyze you.

I had to get over my fears. I had to trust that I would be just fine. LinkedIn was a tool, and I used it to my advantage, and it paid off. But that’s the point. I used it. I didn’t sit back and wait for someone to call. I didn’t let an intimidating “job requirements” section prevent me from applying. Most importantly, I trusted my gut.

You’ll be fine. Trust me. But more importantly, trust in yourself.

Connect: @JaridWatson |


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