At the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), we employ several veterans from different branches of the armed services. Their experience and training built them into strong multi-taskers, leaders and analytical thinkers—all of them invaluable teammates and civil servants. They each took a different path to get to USDA, and the skills and abilities they honed during their military service were crucial to their successful transition into their civilian career paths.
When seeking a federal job, there are many resources available for veterans and many options that can lead to a career in civilian service. In talking with several of the programs that offer career transition support to veterans and based on the feedback and experiences of the veterans on our staff, we put together this list of tips:
- Take advantage of the Army Career and Alumni Program and other programs that offer transition and employment assistance services to veterans.
- Attend fairs and events aimed at veterans. Military-sponsored events like the NAVSEA Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference taking place November 9-10 are valuable resources for networking, learning about available opportunities and transitioning into civilian careers.
- Be willing to think outside the box. There is often an assumption about what kind of jobs are available in government departments—for instance, most people believe USDA jobs are all farm-related. Most departments and agencies, including USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), offer careers in compliance and analysis, public affairs, budget analysis, information technology, project management, and many other areas that parallel the private sector.
- Explore the services offered by the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. This program from Veterans Affairs, often referred to as Chapter 31, helps service disabled veterans prepare for, find and keep suitable jobs as they transition into civilian life. They even assist veterans as they pursue getting educational degrees.
- Know your benefit options. Unemployment benefits include job search assistance and referrals, as well as traditional monetary support. Veterans qualify for these benefits upon leaving the military.
- Be proactive in your job search. It is important to research and learn about the companies, departments or agencies you are applying to.
- Network with employees within the agency so that you know the agency’s culture and other factors that enable a smooth transition. Also, seek out career advisors and employees who have direct hiring authority.
- Be persistent in your search. Apply to many jobs and don’t overlook any opportunity.
- Familiarize yourself with all of the elements of the job search process. Make sure that your application accurately covers everything stated in the job announcement. Do not submit incomplete application packages.
- Be resilient. Remember to remain positive while you search for the right opportunity.
AMS believes that the skills acquired while a member of the armed services—leadership, team work, deploying new technology and a strong work ethic—are perfect tools to help you succeed in a job within the federal government. The fundamentals of leadership and team building learned in the military give a solid foundation that translates easily into civilian service.
We support NAVSEA and other wounded warrior programs in their mission to help the more than 12,000 wounded, ill, or injured service members transition into civilian careers. We honor our veterans for everything they have done for this country, and the sacrifices they have made. Join us in wishing them all a Happy Veteran’s Day.