Mission Transition: Making the Move from Military Service to Civilian Employment
After years of dedicated service to your country your headed home; but this time it’s for good. Your job has been to protect against all enemies, foreign and domestic, to keep the liberties our nation was founded on in place. You’ve spent your entire career moving from place to place, on deployment to the far reaches of the world, and training to make sure you were ready to complete the mission at hand, no matter how difficult the odds.
While most in America would fear the experiences you’ve encountered over your career, you now find yourself fearing exactly the opposite; the transition back to a civilian life. No rigorous training, no high-tech gear, no chain of command, just you. Oh yea, and that extremely helpful TAPS class you took two months ago at your separating command. That was enlightening (insert obscene laugh here)! I’m here to tell you your concern is warranted and something many of us faced or are now facing. I can also tell you from experience, the process of entering America’s civilian workforce can be smoother and easier than it seems.
My name is Ryan Kriske, former LTJG in the United States Navy, and a successful transition story with five years in the workforce today. I currently work as the Marketing Specialist for TPGS, a job I never knew existed sitting in TAPS five years ago at NAS Whiting Field. I am writing this 10-part series over the next several months to help everyone current, former, and retired to experience the same success. Each month I will publish one step, outlining keys to success in your search for the next phase in life as a civilian.
Part I: Targeting Job Opportunities
Today, we begin with the job search process and targeting your ideal position and company. You can start by evaluating your skills and interests, translating your MOS or Rate into civilian job titles, researching companies you feel have the right fit, and preparing for a targeted attack.
Establish an Objective
Establishing what you want to do and who you want to do it for is key to your transition plan. This is the first, and in my opinion, most important part of the overall job search process. If you have to go somewhere 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week you better enjoy doing it or you won’t last long. So make sure the company you are pursuing not only offers a role suited to you but who’s culture is also suited to you.
Assess yourself by objectively looking at your personality, aptitude, interests, values, and skill sets. A great tool, the Interest Profiler, is available through ONET’s My Next Move to evaluate your interests. Additionally, there are great online tools to translate your MOS and training into civilian focused job skills. You can find them at https://www.resumeengine.org and http://www.military.com/veteran-jobs/skills-translator.
Once you have established what you want to do and what you are qualified for, it’s time to find out who you will be working for. Instead of throwing every dart at the board, try a more targeted approach. I recommend choosing 10 – 20 companies that are actively seeking candidates with the skill sets you offer, in the role you desire. You can then narrow that list down to your final top 5-10 through research. Learning which cultures, locations, and levels of urgency each opening has are all important factors to consider.
Finally, you want to learn everything you can about each industry and company so you can tailor each attack and optimize your results. Tailoring your approach is something I will cover in a later blog posting. Some great areas to start your research are TPGS Job Search, Recruit Military, and Military One Source.
The last piece of Phase One is targeting the right people, meaning it’s time to start getting through the gatekeepers and into the spotlight. I recommend exploring all angles including working your network of former commanding officers, military leaders, and fellow service members. Social networking is something many of us hesitate to use, but have learned how to over multiple deployments. Take advantage of this by connecting with influential professionals in your field of interest and following companies you are targeting.
Finally, I recommend looking for decision makers and reaching out. The general rule of thumb is to try and get yourself in front of the hiring manager, but don’t just stop there. Try reaching the hiring managers direct supervisor, supervisors in other departments, and employees you may know there. If your resume happens to land on the hiring manager’s desk from all three sources, my bet is you will suddenly find yourself at the top of the pile. Working with a TPGS resource manager is another great way to make sure you are being put in front of the right person at the right time, while saving you valuable time in the job search process.
Follow these steps and you will find yourself well ahead of the curve during this challenging, new mission. Keep in mind as former or current military your skills, both hard and soft, are highly marketable in today’s civilian job market. Be confident, the qualities you honed in the military are exactly what employers are seeking in new candidates today.
Stay tuned for part two of our blog series next month. I will be discussing how to leverage social media in your search for a second career in the civilian job market. In the meantime, stay up to date on the latest news in government contracting positions and clearance jobs by following our blog.
Plan the work, work the plan shipmates. If you are seeking assistance, contact us today! TPGS is here to get you there!