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Leaving the military to work in civilian society: career adaptability by South Korean short- and mid-term veterans

Jihye Oh (Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Melika Shirmohammadi (Human Development and Consumer Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)
Shinhee Jeong (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)
Jia Wang (Educational Administration and Human Resource Development, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 16 June 2021

Issue publication date: 28 June 2021




Military officials who become accustomed to the distinct culture of the military face a variety of challenges when attempting to transition into the civilian workforce as veterans. These hardships even pertain to short- and mid-term veterans (SMVs) who leave the military at early career stages to pursue alternative career options. In this study, the authors explored the career construction decisions made by South Korean SMVs who left their military careers and successfully transitioned into the civilian workforce.


The authors used a phenomenology approach and conducted a semi-structured interview with 19 SMVs to unpack their career transition experiences.


The authors identified the motivational factors that encourage SMVs to develop their four career adaptabilities and illustrated the necessity for such qualities pre- and post-transition. Furthermore, the authors characterized each individual experience by the theoretical constructs of career adaptability and highlighted the contextual characteristics that prompted the emergence of career adaptability.


This study contributes to the understanding of career mobility at early career stages and how career adaptability is developed and manifested in the context of transitioning from the military to civilian society.



Oh, J., Shirmohammadi, M., Jeong, S. and Wang, J. (2021), "Leaving the military to work in civilian society: career adaptability by South Korean short- and mid-term veterans", Career Development International, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 415-434.



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