Are you a veteran ready for a career with an employer who values you and your long-term growth plans? Here are some tips to make that transition less daunting and prepare you for the right position.
1 – Pace Yourself: But Never Stop Networking
The pace of civilian life will be different than what you are used to in the military. You may be used to staying until the mission is complete. However, you will need to pace yourself as you seek the right job. You may not want the first job or even the first offer that comes your way.
Prioritize your job preferences and apply to both highly desirable jobs and those you can live with initially. You may want to accept something that pays the bills while you keep an eye open for a better position. This is also why networking is essential. Reaching out to friends, family and recruiters who focus on military transitions gives you opportunities to connect with people who understand your unique strengths and experiences.
2 – Prepare: Think In Terms Of Months or Years, Not Weeks
Though you may need short-term job initially, set a vision of your long term goals. Consider your “big-picture” career path and what your idea of success looks like within it. From this vision, you can create and set goals for how to get there. This focus can help you move forward with purpose and keep you motivated on your next steps. It will allow you to celebrate milestones along the way while providing the inspiration you need to propel you forward to more.
3 – Build A Great Resume
Your resume can open doors to potential job opportunities. Take time to write a strong resume that highlights your personal strengths and talents you can leverage in a civilian job. Showcase how your character and military experience will translate into skills in the role(s) you want. Use your resume and cover letter to demonstrate specific results in accountability, leadership, and communication skills from your time in the service.
4 – Scrub Social Media
93% of recruiters and employers will research you on social media. Spend time cleaning up posts and pictures that would do more harm than good in the eyes of a prospective employer. Include photos of yourself in civilian clothing, watch for typos, oversharing and any other red flags that could place you out of the running for an interview (or potentially a formal job offer).
5 – Practice For Interviews
Even for a skilled communicator, interviewing takes practice. Find mentors or other veterans who have recently gone through the process and ask for advice and feedback on your resume. Before any interview, take time to research the employer or company in advance and create a few thoughtful questions of your own. Be sure to visit more than just the company’s website. Practice and a positive attitude can go a long way in easing the anxiety of the interview process.
6 – Ask For Feedback At Every Opportunity
Embrace feedback as an opportunity for growth rather than ego-crushing criticism. Use the words of wisdom others share a way to continue to hone and improve your skills, your resume, and your chances of growing in your new civilian career.
7 – Use LinkedIn
For those rare veterans who haven’t participated in social media at all, consider creating a LinkedIn account to establish a professional profile of record. If you’ve been on LinkedIn but haven’t taken the time to optimize your account, take that time now. LinkedIn is the largest networking site used by recruiters and employers when searching for top talent. It is worth spending a few extra minutes on the site each day to help your profile stand out from the crowd. Here are some tips to maximize your LinkedIn profile.
8 – Utilize All Forms of Networking
Keep your eyes and ears open at all times for opportunities. Networking never stops and can be done in-person, on the phone, and with written or electronic correspondence. Each interaction is a chance to communicate about your career goals. Be sure to ask the person how you can assist them in some tangible way.
9 – Treat It Like A Mission
Remember when you had to report to your CO on mission plans and objectives? Keep yourself accountable and become your own CO here by determining your objectives, then develop a plan and execute accordingly. Hold yourself accountable with regular check-ins on your progress. Find a battle buddy; two great Americans working together will accelerate your success.
10 – Pay It Forward
When your career does launch, remember the support your received during your career search and pay it forward. As the veteran in a corporate world, share your transition experience with others just starting that process.
We all know that military life is dangerous and difficult, but the shift from the military to corporate life is challenging as well. Few of your co-workers will understand what you have gone through, yet the skills, talents, and experience you have make you uniquely valuable for employment. With the right preparation you can not only navigate this transition more easily, you can create a new path toward a rewarding long-term career.
If you require the services of an executive search firm or you are ready to move to a new corporate career, we’re here to help. Contact us today to see how we can help support your transition.