Switching careers can be scary, especially after working years in a highly disciplined and structured organization like the Canadian Forces. 

The military employment transition program helps veterans, reservists and serving members who want to move to civilian work, but find it difficult.

The free program is meant for people who have already received treatment for issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, said Dwayne Cormier, transition services director of Canada Company, which runs the charitable program from Ontario.

"If a person is still in therapy or getting better, the last thing they need to be doing is looking for work," Cormier said. "Once they're ready to look for work, they come to our program." 

Program helps employers understand military skills

The self-directed online program uses tutorials and videos to show people how to look for work, including how to use social media and sites like LinkedIn. 

Dwayne Cormier

Dwayne Cormier says he'll run sessions in Atlantic Canada in the spring for interested people. (Courtesy Alyssa Seli/Canada Company)

"We have over 180 certified, military-friendly employers that have gone through our training sessions so that the HR people understand the military culture, the transferability of skills, the different occupations, the rank structures," Cormier said. 

"We educate employers to learn the military world and we educate the veterans and reservists on how to look for work so they can speak in civilian terms in an interview." 

Atlantic Canada under-represented

More than 5,000 current or former military members have registered in the program, he said. The goal is to help 10,000 former military personnel find civilian employment in Canada by 2023. More than 1,200 people will have found jobs through the program by the end of 2015, he said. 

Cormier said Atlantic Canada is under-represented in both military personnel and employers registered in the national program.

The program will partner with 50 employers to hold meet-and-greet events near military bases in the region, he said. 

"We open our doors to our veterans, so they can actually speak to employers and HR people," Cormier said. 

Canada Company, with the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling, is creating a manual for career practitioners across the country on how to effectively work with veterans. That manual will be sent out in January, he said.

Canada Company also is working with post-secondary institutions, such as Memorial University in Newfoundland, to do learning assessments on veterans so they can be fast-tracked to get civilian degrees by recognizing military training, he said.