There you are. You’ve got your first post-military job. You’re excited, ready and anxious to dive in. You know there will be a lot to learn, but you learn quickly.

Walking into your first day on the new job, you dressed to impress (and also fit in), brushed up on your elevator pitch (so you can introduce yourself to new colleagues) and even packed a lunch so you won’t have to go off premises when it’s time.

Then comes your first opportunity to introduce yourself to a new teammate: Your boss initiates the meeting by telling you, “This is Bob. He’s been with us as a project lead for six years. He’s one of our star programmers!” Bob seems happy with this introduction.

Now your turn. You offer, “My name is Chris. I was a 90A and just finished up as the S1 for the 728th. I ran the battalion PAC and was responsible for OERs, NCOERs, awards and all MILPO actions. Until we came out of the box in October, I was XO for the 308th Quartermaster Company.”

And just like that, the wheels start to fall off.

You’ve forgotten the important lesson you learned when navigating your military-to-civilian transition: The odds are that the people you’ll encounter are not prior military and will likely not understand you if you speak in military language.

To succeed in your post-military career, especially when you’re the only veteran in the room, remember:

When you begin your civilian career, you will be in learning and growth mode. Just like when you began your military career, you’ll need to observe, learn, apply and practice what works for you to succeed in the long run.

The author of “Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty” (2020) and “Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition” (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker and instructor of multiple courses on LinkedIn Learning. She regularly presents workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communication and reputation risk management.

A contributing writer for, Lida is a passionate supporter of the military, volunteering her time to help veterans transition to civilian careers and assist employers who seek to hire military talent. She regularly speaks at conferences, corporate meetings and events focused on military transition.

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