5 Transition Tips From an Executive Corporate Recruiter

5 Transition Tips From an Executive Corporate Recruiter
Photo by Rocco Herrmann/Getty Images

Many officers approaching retirement have the skills and the desire to become a senior corporate executive, but they may not know the path to those positions.


As part of MOAA’s ongoing transition assistance efforts, Cmdr. Lee Cohen, USNR (Ret), founder of Cohen Partners Strategic Military Placement, offered a webinar in April to address some of these questions and provide practical advice for those nearing the end of their time in uniform, or looking for a career change.


A recording of the full webinar is available to MOAA Premium and Life members. Interested in upgrading? Check out what other benefits come with these membership levels.


[RELATED: Visit MOAA's Webinar Schedule and Archive]


Below, get some basics from Cohen’s presentation.


1. Know Your Window. “Most people want to line up their future ahead of time,” Cohen said, and while researching multiple types of post-service employment can begin as you start planning your transition, most companies aren’t receptive to applications if you’re not available to start for more than four months. Reaching out to these firms too early could result in receiving a reply asking you to apply again after you’re out of uniform – not the best solution for those hoping to get a head start.


“Hold your fire, and when you cross that four-month threshold, unleash the hounds,” Cohen said.

2. Know Your Recruiter Types. The majority of the recruiters you’ll find are so-called “contingency” types, Cohen said – they get paid by firms when they place an employee. In rare instances, recruiters may be retained by companies and paid for their work to fill jobs (usually a top position) upfront.


Cohen cautioned against the third type of recruiter: The kind requiring payment from job candidates in exchange for shopping their application materials.


“I haven’t heard success stories” from this arrangement, Cohen said. “So I would just caution you, if somebody wants money from you to be placed, just be careful. … I would say, ‘Hey, let me talk to the last five people you successfully placed.’ Basically do a reference check on them.”


3. Be Direct. Contingency recruiters only get paid if you land a position. That’s good news for qualified applicants, as the recruiters will attempt to get these individuals into as many interviews as possible, knowing they can seal the deal. It’s bad news if you’re not a perfect fit, or if you’re missing a key qualification.


Don’t be shy when dealing with a recruiter, Cohen said – otherwise, you risk wasting your energy on a slim chance of success.


[REGISTER TODAY: MOAA's Military Executive Transition Seminar (July 15, virtual)]


4. Value Your Service. “If you’re a senior person in the military, you’ve made some big cuts to get to where you are,” Cohen said. “You were compared to your peers, you were found to be better than your peers, and they promoted you. … Have some confidence. Don’t be intimidated.”


5. Remember the Basics. For all the discussion about adjusting to a new work environment or the culture shock of a civilian business, some things simply don’t change, Cohen said: “The things that lead to success in the military – coming in early, staying late, taking care of the people who work for you, getting after it, doing the right thing when nobody’s looking … that leads to success on the outside, too.”

Watch the full webinar (exclusive to Premium and Life members) for Cohen’s tips and advice on pursuing postgraduate degrees, effective networking, managing multiple offers, and more, as well as a question-and-answer session covering all manner of topics brought up by webinar participants.

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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and MOAA.org. Follow him on Twitter: @KRLilley