Wednesday, May 13, 2015

6 Actions You Must Take NOW to Ensure a Successful Post-Military Career

Orion Navy NCO and SNCO Recruiter Sultan Camp recently published a blog post for Every Veteran Hired that explores six actions you must take now to ensure a successful post-military career. Check out this excerpt below to see the first three reasons. Visit Every Veteran Hired for the full article.

Being a veteran and having the opportunity to work with 8,000+ separating military professionals, I’ve had the unique experience of seeing a lot of successful transitions. However, I’ve also been privy to a lot of unsuccessful ones as well, especially by senior commissioned and non-commissioned officers.

Many servicemembers put more time and effort into planning their retirement ceremonies and what they’ll do on terminal leave than they do into their transition planning. They often make the mistake of thinking they’ll have no issue landing a job when they’re on leave because of their military experience and having a college degree

Here are six things you need to start doing today, whether you have two years or two weeks left in the uniform, to better ensure your success:

1. Start Now

The Department of Defense trained you for approximately eight weeks to be a Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman, Guardian or Guardsman. When you do the math, that’s about 384 hours of preparation time. Translation: If you spent two hours each day working on your transition, it would equate to about six months of time invested.

This matches up very well with what Dick Bolles outlines in What Color Is Your Parachute? In this book, Bolles says the rule of thumb is to expect about 1-2 months of active job searching for every $10,000 worth of salary you may want to earn. That equates to 4-8 months of active career planning or job searching for a $40,000 salary.

As a former Executive TAP, Transition GPS facilitator and military recruiter, I’ve found this rule of thumb to be extremely accurate. In a nutshell: Don’t procrastinate, start as soon as you can and encourage your colleagues, both junior and senior, to do the same.

Have an actual written plan of action and milestones for your own transition. It’s amazing to see that we often do this for every critical military assessment, but not for the most significant event of our adult careers.

2. Identify Gaps

It’s critical that you identify the gaps you currently have in both your professional network and your skill set. Your professional network includes those folks who can actually put you in front of a hiring manager. If you currently don’t have anyone like that in your network, you need to. This self-evaluation will tell you how employable you are and whether or not it’s a good time for you to leave the uniform (if you have a choice in the matter).

A fatal mistake I often see? Those who solely rely on people still on Active Duty or people who haven’t looked for a job in years to give them job search and resume advice. Instead, use your time to meet as many recruiters and hiring managers as you can in order to get candid insight and feedback on your true market value in the civilian world, as well as how readable your resume is. (Hint: It should not read like your Evaluation Report.)

3. Education and Certifications Matter…Period

The temptation (and flawed decision) when looking at a job description that requires experience or a degree is to apply anyway. This is the same as playing the lottery, with even worse odds.

In the first hour of posting a job, a company can receive as many as 200 resumes. Chances are at least 10% of these applicants have both the experience and the degree required. And employers will generally choose one of these candidates. A full-time job seeker only has 8 hours each day to conduct their job search, so don’t waste your precious time applying for positions for which you’re not a competitor.

When someone says “I’m qualified XXXX in the military; why aren’t employers willing to recognize it?” I generally ask, “If I had a civilian qualification, would I still have to do the military qualification if I wanted to do the exact same job in the military?”

Sound a bit harsh? Well, another analogy is to ask yourself: If you were going before a military promotion board and a special qualification (e.g. a warfare device) was the norm, what would be your chances of getting past the initial screener? The same rules apply in the civilian labor market, especially when you’re navigating it on your own.

I generally suggest you maximize your job search by applying for jobs for which you’re a 95% or better fit, simply because of the odds involved. It’s better to scan 100 jobs and find the 10 you’re most likely to get than to stop at 10 and have zero probability of being called in for an interview.

Click here to read more from Every Veteran Hired.

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