TAO Self-help

Title:Four Tactics to Enhance Your Military-to-Civilian Career Transition

Author:© 2015 Tom Wolfe, author; all rights reserved; excerpts from Out of Uniform: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition; used with the permission of the author and publisher, potomacbooksinc.com.

Date:July 2015


  1. Self-knowledge. Before you can land the right job you must know who you are and what you bring to the table. What makes you tick? What do you really care about? What motivates you? What are your strengths? Talents? Attributes? Skills? Weaknesses? Faults? Deficits? What do you need and want (no, there are not the same thing) from a job and a career? Once you have the answers, be able to discuss them openly, prioritizing when necessary.
  2. Network. Fast-forward to the end of a successful job search and you can look in your review mirror and see that individual who was most instrumental in helping you get your foot in the door. Think of that point-of-contact (POC) as your Uncle Harry or Aunt Mary — pseudonyms for the connections you developed throughout the course of your search, i.e., your network. Grow that network. Identify those POCs and foster relationships with them. They will open doors, shepherd your resume, and help you navigate the path to the job offer.
  3. Social Media. This is a powerful job search tool, but it comes with risks. Although it's a great way to research companies and develop your network, it's also an easy way for companies to check you out. Googled yourself lately? What comes up? When was the last time you did some housekeeping on your social networking pages? Are you on Facebook? Will it make an employer more or less interested in you? Inventory those pictures—are you comfortable sharing them with a boss and co-worker? Do you have a presence on LinkedIn? You should. It in addition to crafting a profile that represents you well, identify and join any special interest groups that have the potential to expand your network.
  4. Be Selective. Interviewing is hard, but why make it harder than it needs to be? Target companies with a history of hiring military personnel. If not, you would first have to convince them to hire that profile and then, if successful, convince them to hire you. Skip that step. How to find them? Look at the companies that advertise in military-centric media like Military Transition News, Military.com, and GIJobs. Find placement companies and job fairs that focus on military transition. Consider the joint private/pubic sector initiatives such as the JP Morgan Chase 100K Jobs Mission and the growing list of impressive companies that support it.

By Tom Wolfe, Career Coach
© 2015; Tom Wolfe is an author, columnist, career coach, veteran, and an expert in the field of military-to-civilian career transition. During his career he assisted thousands of service members in their searches for employment, placing more than 3000 in their new jobs. Prior to civilian life, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served as a surface warfare officer. He teaches transition courses, gives seminars on career and job change, writes about the career transition process, and continues to counsel current and former military personnel. His book, Out of Uniform: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition, was published by Potomac Books in 2011. Tom lives on the North Carolina coast with his wife, Julie, and their Chesapeake Bay retriever, Maggie.

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