When you leave the military, it’s natural to want to return home to your roots. But the period just after you’ve left the military is when you’re at your most marketable, so it’s important not to limit yourself geographically at this point in your career. Let the career opportunity be the driving force in your job search.

Metro Areas Provide More Options

Particularly if you’re from a rural area, you may find that there simply aren’t that many jobs in your hometown, forcing you to settle for a job that isn’t your first choice. Metro areas often have more options and higher salaries. Don’t rule them out at this point in your career.

From my experience, sometimes soldiers returning home to a rural area find that the pace of life seems slow after the military. I once worked with a young man who was dead set on returning to Nebraska after he left the service. Six months later, he called me up and told me he was ready for a change.

Take the Long View

Many Fortune 500 and 1000 companies are actively recruiting employees who are just starting their careers in the private sector. These companies are ready to invest in their employees for the long-term and are prepared for you to stay with them for years or even decades. They also have regional offices across the country that will give you greater geographic flexibility in the future. While you may initially need to take a posting in a location that isn’t your first choice, after a couple of years you can always transfer to a different location.

I recently worked with a candidate who was dead set on returning to Springfield, Missouri. Unfortunately, even with his sought-after skill set, jobs in Springfield were limited. One option he considered: taking a job with a plant in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He could have worked in Fort Smith for two years, and then transferred to a new plant the company was opening in Springfield.

When you’re starting out in the private sector, let your career drive your decisions. Stay open minded and choose the opportunity that is best for your long-term career development. Don’t let your geographic preferences limit your options. Remember, no location is forever. As you build your civilian experience, you’ll have more opportunities to transition closer home to family and friends.


This is the second article in a six-part series on transitioning from the military to the private sector. Follow the links below to the follow-up articles that delve more deeply into the transition process for veterans.

5 Reasons It Pays To Use A Military Recruiter 

Setting Realistic Salary Expectations After Leaving The Service

How To Structure a Post-Military Resume

Most In-Demand Military Skills For The Private Sector