“I’m excited and apprehensive about transitioning out of the military. I’m still working, planning to move, and finishing up my degree. I’ve never done a job search before. And if I had the time to do a proper job search, I wouldn’t know where to start.”
Whether you’re an E-4, E-7, or O-6, you will face the same issues with transitioning. Getting a job is about leveraging three components: education, experience, and professional development. Most people do very well with education and experience; it’s the formalized professional development that often goes ignored.
There are so many emotions tied up in separating from the Service, mainly because the demands on your time can be overwhelming with your military job, getting your degree, and moving. It’s no wonder that many Service members have problems getting a job. They just didn’t have the time or knowledge of how to do an effective job search. Every service member needs an effective job search strategy. One way you can increase your odds of transitioning well out of the Service is to work on your professional development long before you plan to separate. Give yourself a buffer; let potential employers know that while you’re not available now, but you will be within a certain timeframe.
Don’t worry. Corporate America loves Veterans. As the military has shrunk in size, they have invested more dollars of training into every service member. Thankfully, Corporate America realizes and appreciates that. Your military training and talent usually puts you at the top of the list for hiring. In fact, there are job fairs all over America designed specifically for Veterans.
A good career center will tell you that you need a resume and that you need to post it. Also, you need to search the jobs that are listed. A really well written resume is usually responded to with an equally well written rejection letter. Everyone has a resume. Everyone needs one. They all look the same. They’re all thrown in the same stack when faxed/emailed. In the end, a resume is just an advertisement that might get you an interview. The secret is that there are a lot of jobs which are unlisted and this is where good networking skills can find these jobs. The goal is to get to the decision makers.
There is a way to quickly, easily, and cheaply land your dream job: network within professional national associations. National associations have a lot in common. They usually have searchable websites, industry journals, conferences, and local chapters. They also offer industry knowledge and networking opportunities. New members are always welcome, especially from the military. National associations are organizations which have been created for the betterment of their industry or function and as a result, they are an objective third-party source for networking and knowledge. Memberships usually cost less than $100 per year.
Advances in electronics and today’s business climate have caused the traditional social networks to become smaller; however, the trend for professional national associations has been exploding. By searching on the internet for “national associations” you will find thousands of career-based and industry-based national associations. National associations usually have local chapters all over America, which makes membership extremely portable. It’s easier to find a job if people know that you’re looking for a job.
Every association has a website which usually hosts copies of current and archived industry journals. These journals have articles which are written by industry professionals, most of the time their email is included in the article. This is where your initiative can be used as a Band-Aid for a perceived lack of experience or non-relevant experience.
The whole idea behind these associations is to use their resources to help you increase your odds of landing your dream job. Here’s what to do:
- Join an association and attend the local monthly meetings here. (2 hrs./mo)
- Email the author of an article and try to co-opt the author to become part of your own personal network. (10 mins)
- Write an article. These industry journals are always looking for new and different material. There are a lot of military jobs which have similarities with their “real world” counterpart.
For a monthly investment of just over 2 hours and a one-time article, you will have gone a long way in differentiating yourself to land your dream job.
Emailing an author of an industry article is something everyone can do, but few people choose to do. These authors are not professional writers, they’re industry professionals. And if you email them with kind remarks, you may be surprised how responsive these people can be when it comes to promoting your goals.
Writing an article for an industry journal is like fishing, you don’t know what you’re gonna catch. At the very least, if your article is published, you can use it as a reference for future job opportunities. The beauty of writing an article for an industry journal is that it tends to make you look like an industry professional.
Your career is up to you. The Career Center is nice but, at the end of the day, you are responsible for your own life.
Get the career you deserve.
Rick Martin is an Enrollment Counselor in the Military Division at University of Phoenix who specializes in guiding veterans and service members in utilizing their benefits to obtain higher education and the careers they want. If you are interested in maximizing your potential by earning a degree, you can get in touch with Rick at (602) 332-5965.