In the last post I likened the transition from military to civilian life to going through a different type of basic training: one that will likely be challenging and humbling. I provided a few tips including the absolute necessity of focusing your search on a handful of companies, and:

  • Identifying where (geographically) you want to work
  • How much of a daily commute you want to reasonably handle
  • What you want to do, and so on

Then, I invited you to review your answers.

Since then, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the post 9/11 veteran unemployment is at an all-time low. Of course, if you’re an unemployed veteran, from your point of view, that unemployment rate is 100%.

Whether unemployment is low or high, it’s always challenging to find work.

If unemployment is high, employers have a big pool from which to choose, and you have your work cut out for you to stand apart from the crowd.

If unemployment is low, employers have a smaller pool, but the competition is just as keen, and you still have your work cut out for you to stand apart from the crowd.

In either situation, you must believe that you have tremendous talent, skills, training, and experience.

The humbling part is that you may also have to accept that in some ways you’ll have to start all over again. The challenge – the “mission” if you will – is to translate your talent, skills, training and experience to a context your target company can understand.

But how can you do that when you don’t know what you don’t know?

Regardless of when you transition, the unemployment rate, etc., the principles of transitioning remain the same. Begin with the simple things:

  1. Have a professional voicemail greeting
  2. Maintain your voicemail inbox to ensure it doesn’t get full and will no longer accept messages
  3. Answering calls while driving is NOT a good idea, even if you’re hands-free. Many potential employers have policies prohibiting their hiring teams from speaking with candidates while those candidates are driving.
  4. Depending on the position you’re pursuing, usually, all you’ll need is a one-page resume that goes back 10, maybe 12, years.

To this I’ll add the following tips I found in a May 2017 NY Post article by Virginia Backaitis titled Veterans Have a Tough Transition from Military to Office. Bakaitis interviewed veterans Richard Jones, Tim Williamson and Michael Abrams who gave the following advice:

  • You must adjust how you interact to ensure success.
  • Add the word “no” back into your vocabulary.
  • Gain intelligence before you start.
    • Find out how people dress so you feel comfortable and look the part.
    • How much do you know about the company you’re pursuing? Peruse its website.
    • If the company is publicly traded, download its two most recent annual reports, and read them.
    • Use Google to research and read news stories across at least the last six months
    • Review recent announcements via PR Newswire.

Back in basic training, you had to focus. You had to push yourself to achieve things you didn’t think you could. Leverage that fortitude to your transition and you’ll graduate to post-military employment.