Finding a Civilian Career

Evaluating Job Offers

When your job search begins to produce job offers, it’s important to take the time to fully evaluate the worth and desirability of each offer, and not just accept the position with the highest salary. Here are some factors beyond salary that you should consider:

  • Financial Benefits: What is the employer’s retirement savings plan and how much do they contribute to an employee’s retirement account? What are the health insurance plans and how much do they cost? Does the company offer dental, vision, life or short-term disability insurance? Does the company have a bonus or profit-sharing program?
  • Job Security: How long do employees tend to stay with the employer? Is the company expanding and showing healthy financials to support future growth? Has the employer held onto staff during slow periods? Some federal contractors, for example, cannot afford to retain professional staff if the company loses a contract on re-compete. Consequently, some federal contractor employees find themselves looking for new jobs every few years.
  • Professional Development: Does the employer have a robust professional development program that provides employees with regular and desired educational opportunities so they can continue to grow their careers? Does the employer have a leadership development program, cross-training or special projects opportunities, a mentorship program or a sabbatical program? Are there opportunities to advance your career within the company and does the employer typically promote from within?
  • Lifestyle Considerations: How much vacation time, sick time and holiday time does the employer provide? How long or irregular are work days, and how does the employer compensate staff for unusually long hours? How long will you spend commuting back and forth to work? How often will the job require you to travel to different cities or countries?
  • Corporate Culture: Corporate culture is, understandably, a foreign concept to anyone who has spent their entire working life in the military. But culture can differ greatly from one employer to another and it can ultimately determine whether an individual is comfortable, happy and successful in that company or agency. Here are some things you may want to know about an employer’s culture in order to decide if it suits you.
    • How do company leaders describe the corporate culture?
    • Does the company have a code of ethics, a code of conduct or a statement of core principles?
    • What is the leadership/management style in the company?
    • How are management/business decisions made?
    • How do managers assess the success of an employee’s work? And how do they recognize employee achievements?
    • How do members of the company communicate? Does it happen through formal sessions, informal brainstorming, online exchanges or other avenues? Do company leaders regularly update employees or seek employees’ input?
    • Is the company dedicated to supporting philanthropic causes, being an active member of the business community, or supporting work-life balance?

Transitioning from military service into a civilian career is a big step into a different world. Carefully weighing all your options and finding the position that is a good fit for your job interests, career ambitions and lifestyle preferences can give your new career a successful start.