The challenge of leaving the military is that the difficulty of the military-to-civilian transition only becomes apparent once you are in it. The secret to an effective transition is to do more preparation, reading, networking, and planning prior, not during, your process of leaving the military.
Here are my 5 Things to Do More of When Leaving the Military
#1 Do More of This When Leaving the Military – Financial Planning & Savings. Even if you are a great financial planner and saver, going from a military paycheck & benefits to a civilian paycheck with more expensive and less robust benefits is a shock. Savings and financial planning are some of the best ways to be prepared for the financial shock of transition. Going to a less expensive area of the country, waiting to buy a new house until your career stabilizes, and getting another 30,000 miles from your existing car are great financial steps. Money in the bank remains one of the best military-to-civilian tips because it gives you are greatest flexibility.
#2 Do More of This When Leaving the Military – Networking with Senior Professionals. Networking remains one of the greatest challenges for most military veterans because they are either reluctant to approach a senior executive or they feel their experience will not be valuable for their potential new organization. Networking, at its basic level, is an introduction to speak to someone about what you have done, what you would like to do, and what you can do. Prove yourself a great networker and always ask for 3-4 other names to talk to whenever you meet anyone. Finally, you can never have to many contacts and connections – once you have a job, it’s your duty to help other veterans find one.
#3 Do More of This When Leaving the Military – Career Opportunities. Too often, I have seen military veterans stop at one or two job offers. Instead, the goal should be to have five or more job offers when leaving the military. Military veterans need to understand that job offers can be rescinded, you may not like the geography of the job offer, or the career track could be uninteresting. To give yourself the greatest opportunity for job and career satisfaction, keep the career opportunities going from 1 or 2 to 4 or 5.
#4 – Do More of This When Leaving the Military – Don’t Ignore Small Business Employers for Career Opportunities. Most military veterans focus on big companies with big job titles when searching for careers and this is a great part of a career search strategy. What military veterans fail to appreciate is that their skills in leadership, process quality, safety, training, execution, and agility are often MORE valuable to a small employer who desperately needs those military skill sets for their business. Consider adding small business employers to your list of career opportunities.
#5 - Do More of This When Leaving the Military – Use Clear, Simple Stories to Explain the Power of Your Military Skills to a Business’ Success. The military with deployments, combat, physical comfort, fear, and the looming unknown is wholly different from the civilian world. The military is different than the civilian career world, but it is also enormously valuable if you explain it in a way that employers can understand. Use stories that describe the conditions, the challenges you faced, the skills you used to be successful, and how you can use those skills to help an employer succeed. The military-civilian divide can shorten when bright, simple, and well told stories illustrate the value of military skills for business.
The best way to prepare for leaving the military is to over prepare for leaving the military. Follow these five tips to do more of these critical activities that will start your military-to-civilian life out right!
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About the Author: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 360 articles in over 190 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics. Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better. Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management. Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University. Follow Chad @Combater and www.CombatToCorporate.com.
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