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Returning to Work: Enhancing the Relationship with Self and Others

Returning to Work: Enhancing the Relationship with Self and Others

Managing your transition home – Part 11

By Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh

This is the second of four posts in which we discuss quick tips that are useful to all personality types during the transition from service to civilian life. In our first post in this series we examined self-care. In this post we cover the return to work.

Many find that the experience of serving has altered their work goals and aspirations and, in addition, that the world of work or the career they left behind has changed. Service provided many with opportunities to engage in work that felt vital, important, and even exciting. Additionally, some held positions with a great deal of responsibility. These things combined often lead to feelings of being different from others—those who have not served or, in the case of fellow service members, those who have not been deployed.

With these factors in mind, here are some simple yet important tips to help you make the most of reentry into the civilian workforce, whether returning to a former position, beginning a new one, or exploring new career fields:*

  • If returning to a job, assume that things have changed and that you may feel lost at first
  • Ask for help getting updated on things—by doing so you are helping to get the job well done
  • Expect setbacks and missteps—be patient with your adjustment
  • See feelings of confusion, incompetence, and frustration as natural reactions that should fade over time
  • Don’t let others’ negative or unrealistic expectations of service members get you down—trust your own estimation of your knowledge and capabilities
  • Make use of job placement services, if available—staffing and temporary agencies as well as workforce centers
  • Do an Internet search of companies and fields that interest you
  • Let people around you—friends, family, potential employers—know that you are looking for work and what kinds of work are of interest to you
  • Practice interviewing by role-playing with a friend, career counselor, or others to get more familiar with the process
  • Return to work gradually if you are feeling overwhelmed—try volunteering or working part-time, or use these approaches to try out a new field

For most service members, securing meaningful work is an important aspect of finding a “new normal” upon returning home. However, there will most likely be times when looking for work or returning to your old job will feel stressful or overwhelming as it can be hard to “top” your time in service. Utilizing the tips above, along with learning about your personality type, can make you more successful in the process of forging a career path that allows you to use your unique gifts.

You can learn more about the topic of personality type and reintegration in our booklet Introduction to Type® and Reintegration.

*Source:  E. Hirsh, K. W. Hirsh, and J. Peak, Introduction to Type® and Reintegration: A Framework for Managing the Transition Home (Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc., 2011), 56.

Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh are coauthors of several publications, including Introduction to Type® and Teams, MBTI® Teambuilding Program: Leader’s Resource Guide, Introduction to Type® and Decision Making, and the MBTI® Decision-Making Style Report.

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