- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

10 Little Things That Count

by Tom Wolfe, Career Coach and Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Crestcom

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transitioning military hired for operations management

When it comes to job hunting, focusing on the details will make the difference between success and failure. Here are 10 little things you can do to enhance your military-to-civilian transition.


1. Facebook. This and similar social networking platforms may be great for personal connections and communicating, but the content can cause problems in your job search. A potential employer may check you out on Facebook as part of the interviewing process. Will viewing your wall and photos increase or decrease the likelihood of getting interviewed and hired?

2. LinkedIn. Do you have a presence there? You should! This professional networking site is a growing component of job hunting. Create your profile and make sure it is professional, is appropriate, and presents you in an accurate and positive way.

3. Résumé. The best résumé is one that presents your experience in a way that also indicates your potential. In military to civilian transition, how well you have done is frequently more important than what you have done. Remember: It must be 100 percent letter-perfect, error-free and grammatically correct.

4. Q-and-A. An interview is nothing more than an exchange of questions and answers between the interviewer and the candidate. An employer asks questions to add your personality to your resume, to fill in the blanks and to get to know you. You ask questions to gain information and show interest. Are you ready for this exchange? Do not underestimate the importance of this two-way Q-and-A. You need two lists of questions: the ones you expect to be asked and the ones you will be asking. Rehearse your answers and your questions. Avoid selfish questions (e.g., salary, benefits, vacation, holidays, etc.) until after the offer is on the table.

5. Be selective. It takes a lot of hard work to land a great job. You have to find the right opportunity with the right company and then convince that company to hire you. As challenging as that may be, if you are not careful, you may be faced with an even higher hurdle. What if that company has little or no history hiring military service members? In that case, you will first have to convince them to hire that profile. Assuming you can pull that off, you will then have to convince them to hire you. However, if you focus on organizations that already have a demonstrated affinity for hiring veterans, then all you have to do is convince them to hire you.

Enhance Your Military-To-Civilian Transition

6. Needs or wants? No, they are not the same. Many job seekers focus on the latter to the detriment of the former. You do not want to end up in a job that gives you much or all of what you want if, in the process, you fail to also satisfy your needs. This is where forethought, self-knowledge and a reality check come into play. Take a job only if it satisfies your needs. If it also happens to match up with your wants, either initially or in the future, then all the better.

7. Look in the mirror. What do you see? Is that the kind of person you want on your team? Is that someone you would sponsor, endorse and go to bat for? Is this someone you would hire? Military personnel are known for physical fitness, healthy lifestyles, excellent grooming and pride in appearance. Do you live up to this expectation? Yes, appearance matters, but there is a second issue here - personality. Does that person appear to be friendly? Approachable? Self-confident? Interesting? Interested? Appropriately attired? The old adage about first impressions is not a cliché.

8. Professional reading. Read any good books lately? How about magazines and newspapers? Trade journals? Annual reports? Corporate mission and core value statements? Self-help books? Career transition guides? A major component of your job search has to do with knowledge of potential employers, of industries and businesses, of market trends and product development, and, most important, of yourself. This is especially important if you are focusing on a particular discipline, such as supply chain management, manufacturing or sales.

9. Take care of yourself. Change is hard, and facing the unknown is scary. Anyone going through career transition and job hunting is subjected to a high degree of stress and anxiety. Pay attention to your mental and physical health. Introspection, diet and exercise will help. Allocate 30 to 60 minutes out of every day to get the blood flowing. Move your body - walk, run, jog, bike, dance, lift, swim, stretch, spin, practice yoga.

10. Ask for help. Rejection is a common element of every job search. There are always more good people than there are good jobs, and an interviewer looks for reasons to say no long before he or she looks for reasons to say yes. That helps explain why we are frequently turned away when we ask someone for an interview or a job. One way to improve your odds is to change the question. The same person who says no to you when the request is about a job just might say yes when it’s a request for help. It could go something like this: “Mr. Smith, thank you for taking my call. I am getting out of the Army soon and I am not exactly sure what I want to do. Could you give me a few minutes of your time so that we can talk about your company, my background and any advice you would have for me regarding the start of my civilian career?” A grant of that request for help may become an informational interview, and informational interviews will frequently turn into employment interviews, so prepare accordingly.

Tom Wolfe is a Career Coach, Columnist, Author and Veteran and can be found at

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