Congratulations on your transition from the military to “The World.”
You’re back in Basic Training!
Of course you have tremendous talent, skills, training, and experience, but just as in the military you had all kinds of potential that was molded in basic training, then honed by your service, there’s a retooling you’ll have to complete to position yourself for civilian employment. It’s challenging, and it may be humbling, when “The World” doesn’t fall over itself to hire you. Just as you had to adjust to the military way of doing things, there’s a readjustment to make to enter (or re-enter) the civilian workforce.
It’s extremely competitive out there. Repeat: it’s extremely competitive out there.
About 1% of the adult population serves in the military. Therefore, you’re likely to meet civilians who’ve had zero exposure to our armed forces. They don’t know a corporal from a general, an airman from an admiral, a company from a battalion, regiment, squadron, or fleet and…they don’t care.
Your veteran status is NOT diminished by this. You do bring tremendous experience, skills, and value, to a potential employer. The challenge is translating it, putting it in their context. When you can do that, you will move forward.
Here’s another way to think about it: how much do you know about the company you’re pursuing for employment?
The choices out there are overwhelming, and it’s easy to get on indeed.com, CareerBuilder, Monster, etc. and apply, apply, apply. The thinking goes, “I’m bound to hit something.” What happens? You hit nothing. Why?
Because while you’re doing this from a solitary space, there are actually hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants doing the same thing.
What then, do you do?
Focus. Ask, and answer, these questions:
- Where do I want to work?
- 10 miles from where I live
- No more than 30 miles from where I live
- Am I willing to relocate? If so, where?
- City #1
- City #2
- What do I want to do?
- As close to as what I did in the military as I can get
- As far away from what I did in the military
- Whatever is available that’s closest to home
Pause and review your answers. What picture are you seeing?
Now, this next part is the beginning of the humbling part.
Unless you’re extremely focused and began getting yourself sorted out well in advance of your transition, it’s unlikely you’re going to immediately find a job that will afford you a lateral financial transfer. You may have to start two, or three, or more, paygrades down from what you were earning. Yes, in some cases, you’ll be starting over, which may especially be the case if you’re pursuing work that’s far from your military specialty. However, remember: you’re in basic training again.
Here are some immediately simple ways you can empower yourself as you begin your search for post-military employment:
- Have a professional voice mail greeting
- Maintain your voice mail box to ensure it doesn’t get full and will no longer accept messages
- 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.
- Depending on the position you’re pursuing, usually all you need is a one-page resume that goes back 10, maybe 12, years.
Recall your basic training experience. You had to focus. You had to push yourself to achieve things you didn’t think you could. Bring that tremendous fortitude to your transition and you’ll graduate to post-military employment.