With the military services decreasing their force structures, many good people are being forced to consider alternative career paths, despite years of exemplary service and multiple combat tours. And many separating military officers are confused about how to organize this complicated process.
The desired end state is clear: Define a path to career success outside of military service. That means wildly different things to different people. For some, it's more important to be an integral part of their children's lives and to support their spouse's career. They're willing to sacrifice their own advancement to be there when their family needs them, and these are people to be admired. Others want to charge ahead at full speed in their new career, even if it means some compromise in other parts of their lives.
Regardless of where you land in this debate, here are some initial action steps to ensure career transition success:
- Determine your priorities. Articulating your priorities - money, location, work/life balance, professional impact, family needs, etcetera - will drive you in a certain direction as you expand your network and develop your self-marketing plan. It's also good to know your non-negotiables.
- Develop your self-marketing documents. These include your résumé, biography, and business cards, and each has a role to play in a successful career transition.
- Create a robust LinkedIn profile.Professionals at all levels are using LinkedIn to connect directly with human resources teams and hiring managers. A robust LinkedIn profile is the essential element in an expeditious transition, including a detailed knowledge of job-search, people-search, and company-search functions. Watch MOAA's “LinkedIn 101” webinar for advice to get you started.
- Expand your network. Connect with a range of people in a wide array of industries. Join LinkedIn groups, starting with your alumni organizations and MOAA's career networking group; attend professional symposia and conferences; and consider contributing to professional journals to build your brand and name recognition.
- Prepare for interviews. With companies interviewing an average of 10 to 20 people for each vacancy, every interview is the Super Bowl, and stress rises to insurrectionary levels. MOAA's Interview Practice is a state-of-the-art in online video interview prep tool and is accessible from the privacy of your home or office.
- Prepare for benefit decisions.MOAA has a team of experts equipped to guide you through the decision-making process regarding your Survivor Benefit Plan, life insurance transition, and VA disability claim filing. Remember, you lose $400,000 of term life coverage when you leave active duty military service, and your next employer will not provide a similar level of coverage.