A Veteran’s Guide To Professional Development
After transitioning from the military, veterans often question what their next career move should be. Should they go back to school? Explore a new career path? How do they translate their learned experiences from their time of service into skills they can use in a professional setting?
Veterans who have established themselves in a new civilian role shouldn’t stop there! It’s important to seek out professional development opportunities to learn new skills, broaden relationships in a current or desired industry, and help improve new employers’ organizations.
Professional Development Tips for Veterans
Here are some tips veterans can use for professional development:
Pursue Career Development Opportunities
Career development opportunities can come in many forms. As a veteran, the desire to learn more is vital for personal, professional, and company growth. Not all military members go to college or obtain a degree before entering the military.
Professional development, training, and continuing education courses are a great way for veterans to explore new skills and roles to help them advance in their career and become a more valuable asset to any company.
Identify Your Career Goals
When considering professional development opportunities, you should first identify your career goals. What areas of your daily work would you like to expand upon? For instance, is there a new software in your line of work you would like to learn more about?
Research How to Get the Skills You Need
Once you have answers to these questions, you can research different programs and courses to expand your skill sets. Sometimes, these opportunities are available directly through your employer.
Talk to managers and supervisors—if the skills earned will be valuable to the business as a whole, they might be open to sponsoring your participation in development courses or covering the cost of higher education.
Tap Free and Affordable Resources
Take advantage of affordable resources, like LinkedIn’s premium features, which are available free to veterans for one year. These features include certificate programs, where veterans can receive additional training and take courses for free, to help broaden their skills and knowledge in their career field.
For example, if you’re a project manager, you can continue learning through certification programs, such as a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, an Agile Project Management certification, or SCRUM through programs such as PM-ProLearn. Having the motivation, understanding, and drive to pursue development opportunities, shows you are a team player willing to broaden your knowledge to help your company as a whole.
Communicate Your Interest in Professional Development to Employers
Communicating your professional goals with your employer might seem a bit intimidating at first, but it’s crucial to maintain open and honest communication with your team.
Your employer hired you because they saw the value in translating your military skills to the civilian workforce, and it’s important to be a self-advocate in the workplace to ensure your goals and needs are being met while you serve shared, company goals as well. When walking into these conversations, make sure you have answers prepared for any questions they might have.
During these talks, you should stress the benefits your new skills and knowledge will bring to your team, and to the company as a whole. Will professional development courses help build company relationships and allow the opportunity to tap into a new audience? Continued learning helps improve the organization as a whole and is a short-term investment for businesses to make, in order to gain long term benefits.
Broaden Your Career Networks To Find New Opportunities For Yourself & Your Company
Identifying different professional resources to broaden your career networks can also help you and your employer in the long run. Whether you’re attending a networking event on LinkedIn or participating in a certificate program at a college or university, as a veteran, it’s always beneficial to seek out opportunities to grow your network.
Not only is networking a great way to meet like-minded individuals in your field of work, but it’s also a great way to learn about new resources and connect with prospective colleagues, business partners, or clients. If you’re interested in connecting with fellow veterans in your industry to discuss development and mentorship opportunities, look into organizations like Vets2Industry or HireMilitary, which offer free services to military veterans.
You might even be able to connect with potential new recruits for your company. Whatever approach you take, your employer will welcome any efforts you’re making to develop and grow the business!
As a military member, you might feel drawn to fellow veterans since they have similar experiences as you, but it’s also important to grow your network beyond just military professionals. Take advantage of digital networking programs to build new meaningful connections with professionals in your industry.
Having business and entrepreneurial resources at your fingertips can help your career flourish and improve your productivity through new skill sets. When you apply these to your work, it can have a ripple effect that improves the bottom line of your company as well. Professional development should be viewed by your employers to mutually benefit your professional growth and the organization as a whole.