- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Transition Talk

by Mike Arsenault, Vice President of Candidate Services

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Article Sponsored by: Eaton

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Bradley-Morris answers questions from transitioning military job seekers.

Q: I will be transitioning out in 12 months and I’m working on my resume. My biggest challenge is understanding pay scales and which industries pay higher or lower for my skills. Are there tools or tips for negotiating salary?

A: Great question - this is a frequent one for military job seekers. As you transition, you’re more than likely worried about getting a job and while that is your focus right now, it’s crucial not to lose sight of the fact that we work so that we can provide for ourselves and our families. You’re right to assume that your job skills translate differently in certain industries. The first thing you need to assess is what you have to offer a potential company. If you don’t have a profile set up on LinkedIn, do this as soon as possible. Then spend some time researching the careers of people who have similar experience as you.

Next, use an online resource such as to research pay ranges for some of the positions for which you believe you are qualified. Note that pay ranges vary greatly for the same position depending on location and on industry. A production supervisor will have a higher salary range in Los Angeles than in Boise, for instance. And a production supervisor in the medical device industry would likely have a higher salary range than a production supervisor in the food service industry. Doing this research will help set your expectations in terms of salary for a variety of different civilian roles.

If you are working with a military recruiting firm such as Bradley-Morris, Inc. (BMI), your candidate recruiter will be able to offer valuable feedback in terms of what candidates of your rank/rate and military occupational specialty have earned in the civilian world as well. In fact, BMI publishes a quarterly summary of what your military peers earn in their civilian jobs.

So now that you have an idea of some salary ranges, when do you bring up salary and/or when should you negotiate? Employers should always provide a range before you apply for a job. If the range is acceptable to you and you believe your background to be a match, consider that a green light to apply.

From here on out, there is an expectation that if offered the job in the advertised salary range, you will accept. This is essentially a good faith agreement between the company and job seeker. If offered the job and you suddenly ask for a salary outside the advertised range, many employers will take this as a warning signal of a risky character and rescind the job offer. Similarly, if the company offers you the job at a salary range lower than advertised, you can likewise consider this as a dubious sign and you should consider declining the offer.

Don’t talk salary or benefits specifics in the middle of the interview, either. Until the offer stage, any questions you ask the employer should be about the role or the company itself, and your responses should be about how you can make a difference for their business. In most cases, finalization of your salary and benefits package won’t happen until you have been extended an offer.

An important note: be sure to ask for your offer in writing! No offer is official until you receive it in writing (or via email) and you haven’t officially accepted the offer until you sign and return the offer letter (or accept via email). Also, make sure you understand the benefits associated with your new job. Benefits do play a role in determining your overall financial compensation. Some roles, especially those that involve travel, include a company car, mobile phone, computer, etc. That can make a big difference.

Is there some wiggle room with salary offers? It depends on the company. But let’s just say for example that you’ve been offered at the lower end of the salary range of the position. It is acceptable for you to ask for a bit higher salary (as long as it is still within the salary range), but you must continue to express interest in the role and have a reason for the higher number. For instance, your reason might be that you are bringing eight years of team management experience to the role that would make you a good candidate for promotion down the line, and that might not have been something that was clear from your resume. However, if they match your request, be prepared to accept the position!


Mike Arsenault is Vice President of Candidate Services at military placement firm Bradley-Morris, Inc. He can be reached at (800) 330-4950 ext. 2105 or by email at

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