Transitioning to dream job

27 Jan 2014 | Cpl. Timothy Norris

As Marines approach their end of active service, they reach a fork in the road. A choice between staying on active duty for another four years or pursuing other goals.

Once a service member decides to separate from active service, goals surrounding their next job or school options begin to form.  This is called “beginning with the end in mind.”

The question is how to get there.

“It’s not as simple as it used to be,” said Joseph Mulla, a Marine Corps Community Services personal and professional development advisor. “People used to go through the motions of preparing. The Transition Readiness Seminar today is all about ownership of your transition.”

The first day in the seminar can be a harsh reality for some of the participants because they may discover they are not as prepared as they thought. Class participants use the websites and to do an analysis called the Military Occupational Classification Crosswalk. The crosswalk identifies similar civilian jobs to a service member’s Military Occupational Specialty and provides a wealth of data on that field.

How much people are paid in the field, what education, certifications or licenses are needed and the intangible skills needed to succeed in the field are all included to help participants make informed decisions about their future.

“For people staying in the same field of work, it makes planning much simpler,” Mulla said. “They can update their resume and tailor it to the specific job they want. For career switchers it can be very difficult. There are certifications, licenses, education and experience they may not have.”

For those planning to further their education it can show what degree they may need to be competitive for the job field they choose and help choose a school offering that degree.

“We like to see people take this course a year out,” Mulla said. “That way it gives them time to utilize local schools. It makes you much more competitive now rather than later. It’s all about preparation.”

Mulla referenced one Marine who had acquired a Bachelor degree and two certifications during his eight years as an aviation electrician. According to Mulla, the degree and certifications qualified the Marine for more than $60,000 a year rather than $40,000 without them in the same job field.

“We facilitate the learning and experience for service members to prepare to leave, and they are leaving much more prepared today than ever before,” he said.

He added that some service members are intimidated by the prospect of separating from the military, while others may not take it seriously and fail to make a solid plan.

When a service member applies for a job they will need a resume detailing their education, work history and individual qualifications. Not preparing can be dangerous because, “those two pieces of paper let an employer know if you’re qualified for the job or not,” Mulla said.

“So between the experience, qualifications and certifications, service members can see what they have already, what’s required for the position and where the gap is. It’s pretty cut and dry,” he said. “The difference is what you need to do to become qualified for the job.”

Preparing for the future doesn’t have to wait until an end of active service date. Preparation can start now by going to,, or the transition assistance office to begin filling the gap between here and there.