- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Job Security or Growth Potential?

Can you find both in a Civilian Career?
by Tom Wolfe, Senior Contributing Editor

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Tom Wolfe

As you prepare for your military-to-civilian transition, you may also be thinking about a job search and a second career.  If that is the case, be sure to identify those factors that are important to you as you seek out your civilian career.  For most people, those factors include two that may seem at odds with each other – job security and growth potential.

Although reductions in force, downsizing and other factors have reduced the guarantee of job security, the military and other government organizations still offer a high likelihood of continuing employment and paychecks.  Service members become accustomed to this job security and the prospect of leaving it behind when they separate can be worrisome.  Frequently those same individuals are also focusing on a civilian career with growth potential.

Inherent in the job security of the military is the “time-in-service, time-in-grade” (TIS/TIG) system of pay and advancement.  The alternative to TIS/TIG is a performance-based system – one in which your pay and advancement, i.e., your growth potential, is based on the value that you add to the organization.  Every private sector, for-profit organization pays much more attention to value-added than time on the job.  So, which do you choose – job security or growth potential?  Are they mutually exclusive or can you have both?  Let’s take a closer look.

Growth potential in any for-profit organization is dependent on two factors.  One, the organization itself must be growing.  This growth is evident in increasing sales and profits.  Expanding market share, investment in research and development, and introduction of new products or services are good indicators of growth.  Two, you have to be very good at what you do for the company.  Adding visible and measurable value to a growing organization equates to strong potential for growth.  No matter how strong one of those factors is, take away the second one and growth potential evaporates.

Now let’s consider job security.  In the most basic sense, job security means your employment is guaranteed.  Although life’s guarantees are few, it is possible to maximize the odds that your job is guaranteed.  How?  Your job remains secure as long as your company continues to grow and as long as you have a positive association with that growth.  Remove either of those factors, however, and your job is at risk.

As you can see, job security and growth potential are far from mutually exclusive.  You can have both in a civilian career.  Although they are not quite the same, they are definitely interdependent.

Tom Wolfe, Career Coach, is a nationally recognized expert in military to civilian career transition and the Senior Contributing Editor at Civilian Job News.  He served as a surface warfare officer in the Navy and has provided career guidance to military personnel since 1978. Contact him via e-mail


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