Lessons from experts for a smooth military career transition

Recruiters and MOAA members experienced with hiring decisions offer five lessons for military officers and veterans to keep in mind when navigating through a post-military career transition.

  • Flexibility is key to a successful and expeditious career transition. With an average of 383 applications for every advertised job, it's important to have some flexibility on location, salary and management level. Consider that the firm that pays you a little less but offers a good match with your skills, experience, and passion could very well be the place where you'll do some of your best work.
  • LinkedIn remains the essential element in a successful job search. Aside from the ability to grow your network and connect with people who can support your candidacy, LinkedIn is the primary tool many recruiters and human resources managers use to find people in specific geographic areas with certain skill sets. Beyond the basics of having a robust profile and a range of connections at various levels of management in a variety of sectors, understand how to use people search, company search, and job search within the constraints of the basic (and free) LinkedIn account. (Learn LinkedIn basics through MOAA's webinar.)
  • Suspend judgment when a recruiter calls to discuss an opportunity. While the location and salary might not be perfect, remember that people can start to look like damaged goods after an extended period of unemployment, and any reasonable offer deserves careful consideration. Consider the value of a platform or defibrillator job - not a perfect job but a good place to re-start your career momentum and build a platform for future success through an expanded network and a refreshed resume.
  • Tailor your basic résumé for the particular requirements of the position you are seeking. Understand where the organization you are applying to is in their life-cycle, and customize your résumé to reflect the skills and experiences that organization requires, depending on whether they are a start-up, realignment, turn-around, or a sustaining success situation. Cover letters and cover emails also need to be customized to reflect the unique needs of the organization and your ability to meet those needs.
  • Use information interviews to expand your network and gain insight into the challenges confronting various organizations and job sectors. Start with people you know well who have successfully transitioned and gradually expand to include strangers with whom you have some common connection, such as military service, school, or the local community. Send a personal biography as a read-ahead prior to the meeting, and always ask for referrals to new connections and feedback on your résumé. Every time someone you trust reviews your résumé, it gets a little stronger and more concise. Most important, write a thank-you note following every encounter.