A Veteran Transition Success Story – Army LTC

Silver Oak LeafAfter a 20 year career as an aviation officer, Brian was determined to retire to a location that would allow him to be near family. Brian's chosen location had few aviation related jobs, so he was faced with moving into a different field as a part of his transition.

Brian knew he had an uphill battle ahead of him, so he started the process 18 months out. He began by focusing on his resume. In Brian's words...

I spent about 4 months working on my resume. I borrowed a friend of mine's who had just retired and used it as a good format. I gave it to a dozen people and they all had different opinions. That is what I think you get from anyone - a different opinion on what it should say ... List accomplishments or list transferable skills like leadership...

Sounds like Brian's friends gave him good advice. You should focus your resume on achievements and transferable skills. Be sure to translate those skills to avoid military jargon.

Brian started applying for jobs eight months before his retirement date. Initially, he received little response to his resume. In fact, he only had two interviews during that entire time. One of the two opportunities worried he was overqualified for the job and would quickly move on to another job. The other ended up offering him a position which he accepted.

The position he accepted was in the Oil and Gas industry. They were looking for leadership experience, and his focus on transferable skills helped communicate his ability to excel in this area.

Brian's advice to those following in his footsteps is to first ensure your resume is solid and then to network heavily. In Brian's words...

My take is that if you are going into the Defense Market or Government or they same industry as your military experience (for me - aviation), you just need to put your accomplishments on your resume and it will speak for itself. IF you are trying to do anything else, its all transferable skills.....AND NETWORKING. The number one thing you can do is network! I immediately beefed my LinkedIn connections to about 200. I connected with any classmate in the area or anyone that worked for a company I was interested in and had a similar background. I joined a ton of veterans groups on LinkedIn and went to local West Point and Service Academy functions. Networking is the number one thing that will get your resume in the right person's hands to get you an interview.

What can we take away from Brian's experience?

  1. Get your resume right! Focus on achievements and transferable skills without military jargon. And have lots of people (outside of the military) review it for you.

  2. Start early. Transitioning can be a long process.

  3. Get your resume out there. Post it on job boards, apply for jobs, and then network, network, network. I recommend networking with veterans already working at companies as a way to ensure that after you apply online, your resume gets in front of a hiring manager.

  4. Keep at it. The transition process can be long and frustrating. Apply the same determination and tenacity you have applied to your military career, and you will be successful.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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