Brigadier General Earl Simms didn't start to think about getting a job in the civilian world until he was about to retire from the Army four years ago.

After a military career that spanned 32 years. Simms took advantage of the Army Career and Alumni Program, which provides transition and job assistance services for soldiers returning to civilian life.

Simms, 60, used the program to learn how to write a resume, sharpen his interviewing technique and develop networking skills. He ended up working for the company that provided the training -- Serco Inc. of Vienna.

"I believe it prepared me very well for life outside of the Army," said Simms, who is Serco's vice president of Army programs.

The company recently won a $48 million contract from the Army to continue providing ACAP services. Known until recently as Resource Consultants Inc., Serco has provided job preparation services for servicemen and women, their families and civilian Army personnel for the last 15 years.

The program was established by Congress to provide detailed job-assistance training, counseling and resources to soldiers leaving active duty.

The contract, which consists of one base year and two one-year options, is part of a broader $1.5 billion Army human resources services and support contract, awarded last September to Resource Consultants Inc., SI International Inc. of Reston and Strategic Resources Inc. of McLean. The three companies compete with each other for work under the contract.

Serco provides skills for soldiers who are leaving the Army for college, private sector careers, self-employment or retirement. The Labor Department and the Veterans Affairs Department assist Serco in providing services, said Simms, who is program manager for the company's human resources contract.

More than 200 Serco employees administer ACAP services at 53 centers in the United States, Europe and South Korea. The company provides workshops and counseling on benefits and entitlements for former Army personnel, as well as job search and salary negotiation skills.

About 195,000 active duty soldiers, their family members and civilian Army employees use the program annually, Simms said. About 95,000 soldiers in the Army National Guard or Army Reserve, who have had to make the transition from active duty back to reserve status during the Iraq war, have used ACAP services. Serco, which sees a potential for offering the services to other military branches, provides ACAP services to non-Army personnel on Army installations, when space is available, Simms said.

Serco has provided similar services for the Agriculture Department's Forest Service, the Defense Information Systems Agency, the General Services Administration, the Government Accountability Office and NASA, Simms said.

The company provides information technology services, systems engineering, strategic consulting and human resource-focused business process management services. Serco's parent company, Serco Group plc of Hampshire, England, acquired Resource Consultants Inc.'s parent, RCI Holding Corp., in March for $215 million.

Roseanne Gerin is a staff writer with Washington Technology. For more details on this and other technology contracts, go to www.washingtontechnology.com.

Soldiers, veterans and others came to an Army Career and Alumni Program semi-annual job fair last week at Fort Campbell, Ky. Jamie Notaro, left, talks to Spc. Jessica Padilla about new-job prospects.