If you are a veteran entering the civilian workforce it can be challenging for several reasons. Instead of focusing on what the problems are let’s focus on what you can do to make the transition smoother. Whether you have a vision for your new career or have no idea what you’d like to do, there are three easy steps toward your first paycheck.

Begin by making or updating your resume. Making sure your resume is solid can be a daunting task but there are many websites to help you. Taking it a section at a time will make it much less overwhelming while ensuring you’ve completed it to the best of your ability. You’ll want to include all training and certifications you have completed along with your formal education background. The combination of length of time served, training and certifications can be just as helpful, as formal education, in proving your qualifications when looking at potential job listings. Certain sections and cover letters may wait until you’ve found a job to apply for but there is plenty to work on now, so get started.

Next, you need to figure out what your interests are and how they can be used in a long-term career.  It’s said you never work a day in your life if you enjoy what you do. You may think everyone knows what their career interests are, but most people know their hobby interests but not what they genuinely want to do for a career.  Take some time to specifically think about how your training, interests, strengths, and weaknesses could match up to specific job positions. For example, if you were a tank driver and did well-completing tasks alone you may enjoy being a CDL trucker driver. If you were a cook and are a “people person” you may enjoy managing a restaurant. Maybe you want to start fresh on a new career path but use your ability to guide others and manage stressful situations successfully. Focusing on the combination of your career interests, strengths/weaknesses, and current qualifications in will help steer your job search. Allow yourself the privilege of finding a career where you can truly thrive.

Lastly, using a staffing agency to help you find that perfect fit could save you so much time and stress. This phase in life is stressful enough so why not cut out what you can? They do the work of finding the jobs while you get the opportunity to try a position without a permanent commitment. Many jobs through these agencies can turn into permanent positions, but there are many pros to working for a company as a “temp” when you start.  This gives you the opportunity to see if the position is right for you and if the company itself is one you want to work for. You may find the position is perfect while the company isn’t a good fit or vice-versa. Also, staffing agencies are there to help you find a job quickly. They have contacts and connections to open jobs that employment websites do not have the access to. These agencies are in business to serve you so taking advantage of the help and opportunities they provide is just another way you can help your transition go smoothly.

The transition to civilian life doesn’t have to be as stressful as many think. Many people focus on all the reasons transitioning is hard while refusing to focus on how to make it easier. You’ve now got three easy steps laid out which can be started well before your discharge date. Remember to complete each step with effort and you’ll find yourself transitioned into the civilian workforce before you know it!