- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

De-conflicting Your Military to Civilian Job Search
by Tom Wolfe, Career Coach and Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by:  American Military University

Tom Wolfe

"I am sorry, sir, but we will not be able to interview you after all. It seems that your resume is in our applicant tracking database several times. Normally that would not be a problem, but because you are being tracked under three different source codes, we will have to reject all copies . . . Yes, I know that seems unfair, but to pursue you now would lead to a conflict over sponsorship were we to eventually hire you . . . Well, let's see. We have you in the system three times. Once as an internal employee referral, again under your own Internet application on our Web site and a third time on the letterhead of one of our preferred search firms... Again, sir, I am sorry. I know it seems unfair, but it is corporate policy to resolve potential conflicts like these before they become real, and sadly for you, this is the easiest way to solve the problem."

Now that is one phone call that you never expected to receive. What went wrong? Everything you hear says to use a multi-pronged approach and this is your reward for being thorough? Unfortunately, in many cases it is. As important as it is to be thorough, it is equally important to maintain control of the distribution of your resume. This is a classic example of the double-edged sword. It is certainly true that the more avenues you pursue, the more options you utilize, the more contacts you develop, the more likely you will find the right job. However, it is equally true that all of this prospecting will also increase the odds of conflicts. Although these conflicts will not always kill the deal, they do raise the possibility of rejection and should be avoided if possible.

What can you do to de-conflict your military to civilian job search? Although there is no foolproof methodology, there are several steps you can take to minimize conflict.

1. Use the Internet selectively. Although it is a powerful tool, you must be careful. This is especially important when you submit your resume to an Internet-based service that makes it available to a list of clients. Before utilizing that type of service, learn its rules of distribution. What sort of controls can you exercise? Do you grant permission or, at a minimum, receive advanced notification before a subscriber gets your resume? Discuss these issues with the service on how your resume will be handled.

2. Networking. Whom you know and whom they know comprise one of your most powerful search tools - your network -- but, like an Internet search, your network can overlap. As you develop your contacts and accept offers of assistance, you should also ask them to inform you when they pass your resume along to someone else. This allows you to eliminate the possibility of overlap before it happens and also keep track of your resume.

3. Placement companies. As beneficial as they are as a supplement to your overall search plan, they can also cause conflict. Make sure that your "headhunter" is aware of your desire to maintain control of your resume distribution. Let him or her know that you do not want your resume distributed to a company without your permission. Any high-end, reputable placement firm will extend you that courtesy as a matter of course. Should they balk at that request or refuse to represent you under those conditions, find a more professional firm that will do as you ask.

4. Keep a log. Most of us do not have the brainpower to mentally track all of the different avenues our resume is traveling and all the stops it is making along the way. Keep a written record of your resume distribution. Note the date it was distributed, the destination, the sponsor, and any subsequent communication trail.

As you can see, thoroughness has its price. That price - mostly in the form of caution and record keeping - will produce dividends in the end. Minimizing conflicts will enhance both the quality and quantity of your employment opportunities.


Tom Wolfe, Career Coach, is a nationally recognized expert in military to civilian job search and career transition, and is a Contributing Editor at Civilian Job News.  He served as a surface warfare officer in the Navy and has provided career guidance to military personnel since 1978. Contact him via e-mail


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