Realizing or being told that he or she is out of uniform is not a pleasant experience for those serving in the military. Whether it is simply a missing component (hat, belt, insignia, or ribbon) or the unintentional selection of an incorrect uniform-of-the-day, he or she becomes the focus of attention for the wrong reason. However, as uncomfortable as it may be, the damage is minimal and the fix is relatively simple.

For men and women in transition from military to civilian occupations, the phrase out of uniform takes on a new meaning. This time the situation is intentional but the fix is not so simple. A veteran can take off the uniform and hang it in the closet, but what happens next?

Career transition, job searching, and interviewing are stressful events for almost everyone, but the stress level is typically higher for those leaving the service. Although the task is daunting, civilians have an edge in that they are aware of the opportunities and have previously searched for jobs. That is rarely the case for military personnel. They face the added burden of not only having to identify their options but also of having to determine what they want to do and how to find it. I wrote Out of Uniform to give veterans the tools they need to help aid in that transition.

I tried to make it a user-friendly guide to career transition, job hunting and interviewing for current and former military personnel. Not only does it cover the basics—search techniques, networking, interview preparation, resumes, and negotiation—but there is also guidance on additional issues that are often over-looked: specifically, the central themes of self-knowledge, interviewing empathy, and the power of questions.

The technical and “how to” information is emphasized and made memorable through transition tales. I share my personal transition experience as well as that of several of the thousands of service men and women I personally assisted throughout my recruiting and placement career. I offer this conventional wisdom, some unconventional wisdom, and professional best practices to create a roadmap for a successful military-to-civilian career transition. To learn more, visit

Tom Wolfe is an author, career coach, instructor, and nationally recognized expert in the field of career transition. He is a contributing writer at and a columnist for the Veterans of Modern Warfare. He graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy and served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy, completing tours of duty as a flag aide, communications officer, and administrative department head.

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Published on Nov. 14, 2011

Estimated reading time is 2.2 min.

Views to date: 208


  1. Marcus December 5, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Wolfe does a good job. Any support and guidance about the transition process is helpful and needed from various sources. Diversity of sources is necessary, given the vast military backgrounds and service types along with the many civilian opportunities that exist.

  2. Vanessa November 15, 2011 at 7:24 am

    This entry in the blog is an advertisement to sell Tom Wolfe’s book. I cannot believe the VA would let someone use this blog for that reason. The link to his webpage gives you a one page synopsis which is very similar to the content of the blog. This blog tells you nothing other than as a military member you are different and you should tell your tales. There is nothing to help you know how to overcome your differences and have a better opportunity to gain civilian employment.

    VA: if you continue to allow this blog to be used to advertise books, then the value of the blog will be lost. I know that continued posts of this type will end my desire to read it. More importantly, this post decreases the esteem I hold for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Please address this issue and give the “Rules” of what can and can’t be included in the blog.

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