Career Focus: Assistance program outstanding

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Joseph Mulcahy
  • Team Kirtland career assistance advisor
Our Air Force has gone through many changes in 60 years. One of the big changes happened in 1990 when we began downsizing the Air Force. At that time, we had 600,000 Airmen! Early retirements and separation bonuses flourished and many folks leaped at the opportunity to leave.

With such a large number of military members re-entering the civilian workforce, many were unprepared for the challenges that faced them. Many were not prepared to adjust to a new culture. Many had difficulty communicating without using military jargon or acronyms. Many did not have job interview skills and could not translate their military knowledge and skills into civilian terms.

Seeing the need for a program to address these problems, the Department of Defense teamed up with the Department of Labor and developed the Transition Assistance Program in 1990. Program attendance was highly encouraged for all members who planned to separate or retire.

Today, the program is still going strong and every member who is within two years of retirement or one year from separation can attend. Ethel Tilley from the Airman Family and Readiness Center manages the program. John Redman from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions facilitates the program. TAP teaches military members and spouses résumé writing, job interviewing, salary negotiating, dressing for success and much more. Human resource recruiters from Albuquerque businesses provide powerful insights into the dos and don'ts of finding employment.

Mr. Redman, a former U.S. Navy aircraft electrician is phenomenal at running the program. His job hunting insights provide powerful tools for success. He spends a lot of time talking about networking, attitude and motivation. He also addresses stress management and helps folks discover jobs they will really desire. It was an outstanding seminar.

A few of my peers were surprised to see me at the seminar. They joked about how things must be really bad if the career advisor is planning to get out. Truth be told, I am retirement eligible; however, I don't have any immediate plans for leaving. I attended TAP to explore future options and brush up on my job hunting skills. The last time I interviewed for a job was 1987. Needless to say, things have changed since then. I also acquired valuable information to pass on to those I counsel and brief.

TAP left me with three important thoughts.

First, it reinforced my belief that the Air Force is a great way of life filled with opportunities for learning and applying skills.

Second, it reminded me that we should never take our people for granted. With so many jobs out there, we need to ensure that our way of life remains competitive.

Third, it taught me that Airmen should never sell themselves short. TAP helped me discover that I had more marketable skills than I had previously realized. I was very happy to learn that our Air Force has given me a wonderful and diverse life. It has also given me the ability to draft at least three different career résumés.

I still love serving and will stay as long as they let me, but I also have greater confidence about finding employment in the civilian job market when the time comes. Like it or not, we will all return to the civilian world, and it's important to be prepared for the transition.

If you would like more information about TAP contact the Airman Family and Readiness Center at 846-0741. If you would like to discover ways to broaden your Air Force career give me a call at 846-6636 or e-mail me at

See you in the wings!