Best Practices For Military Transition – An Interview With Hirepurpose

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The mission statement of Hirepurpose (https://www.hirepurpose.com/), a New York City based military career transition leader, reads like an example for others to follow, “We believe in the American military community, and we’re committed to helping transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses find careers they love.”  I spent a few hours interviewing Will Leineweber, one of Hirepurpose’s Vice President’s.  Will has military experience as a USAF officer and National Guard UH-60 pilot with deployments to Iraq and Kosovo. He has been active in the military to civilian transition space since 2007 with recruiting roles at the agency and corporate levels.

 

Will and I discussed some great, practical, and enduring best practices for military veterans from all Services, Ranks, and Career Fields to have an effective military to civilian career transition. Here are some of Will’s best tips to all military service members and military veterans to start the next great chapter in their lives.

 

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  1. Your Resume is the Best Way to Immediately Represent Yourself. There is no one solution for a resume format. Your resume should be a maximum of 2 pages and the keywords in the job description should be clearly reflected and listed in your resume achievements. For technical positions, be sure to use the latest software technology, positions, and spell out your qualifications clearly. Remember, for online job applications, your resume may never be seen by a person in the first review, so the use of keywords from the job description is important.

  2. Resume Achievements Need to be Simple, Clear, and Quantified. Ensure that all but the most common military terms are either spelled out or eliminated. Your resume needs to list achievements that you accomplished and uses as many metrics as possible that paint a clear picture of what you achieved. A big mistake in resumes is listing responsibilities vs. achievements. Employers want to see what you did with a demonstrated history of success.

  3. Seek Out Companies You Respect & Engage Their Military Recruiting Teams. Find companies that you respect through web searches, job posting, news stories, or military friendly employer listings. Before applying, reach out to their military recruiting teams to find out more about the company, what their specific hiring requirements are for the next three to six months, and if they can offer a review or your resume with any suggestions for improvement.

  4. How to Use Job Fairs to Your Maximum Benefit. Job fairs can be massive, crowded events with over a hundred different organizations. In order to be successful, make a reconnaissance of the companies that are present, and create a step-by-step plan to visit each one of your top choices. Know in advance what the company does, what positions are available, and have a resume and a cover letter for each of them. Ensure that you are in comfortable professional dress, have a conservative haircut, and a well-practiced elevator pitch on your experience, professional goals, and qualifications. Finally, be respectful of the recruiters’ time and get their card (s) so you can follow up the next day.

  5. Find a Career, then Find a House. A very common problem for military members is that they buy a house, leave the service, and then look for a career where they live. Instead, start your career search with no geographic constraints, find a career, and then purchase a house. When you limit yourself to a specific geography before finding a career, you significantly reduce your career options.

  6. Be Very Aware of a Lack of Understanding of Military Culture. Most civilians that you encounter will not have a very good understanding of the military. That does not make them bad, just unaware of the military culture. Work very hard to reduce the amount of military terms, military mannerisms, and overt displays of military stickers on your vehicle and work material. The use of spit cups, tobacco products, and vehicles with firearm stickers is very common on a military base, but very uncommon in most work environments. Be yourself, but be aware of stark overt differences between military veterans and the civilian workplace.

  7. Own Your Transition, be Financially Prepared, and Have a Robust Plan. Military veterans own their transition process. The best way to succeed at a military to civilian career transition is to have a robust plan, at least six to nine months in savings for living expenses, and a personal openness to discovering new paths to a possible career. Transition is like physical fitness, you have to do it for yourself. You have to figure out what you want to do, your career interests, and possible locations. This is best done a year in advance. 

  8. Overlooked Opportunities. There is a skill shortage in pilots, mechanics, and other STEM fields. Some industries are very short of mechanics, engineers, Oil, Gas, Manufacturing, Aircraft maintenance, mechanical repair, medical instruments, and energy maintenance. Management Training Programs or Leadership Development programs also offer great potential. Rental car companies, Manufacturing companies, and others can take a non-college graduate that interviews well and place them in some leadership development programs.
     
  9. Social Media Clean Up. Before your start transition, clean up and remove anything from Social Media that is unprofessional. No politics, no guns, no alcohol, no sexual content, and no war talk. Anything that looks objectionable to anyone for any reason makes it very easy for an HR rep or a hiring manager to move onto the next candidate. Look at any stickers on your vehicle that may have weapons, words, or flags that are problematic. Everything on social media should be a professional presence.

  10. Be Flexible. Transition holds lots of surprises that cannot be anticipated. Opportunities evaporate, contacts move out of leadership positions, and unforeseen expenses can arise. Having a plan, savings, and a flexible attitude is the best defense for these eventualities.

Military to civilian career transition is challenging for everyone but it can be done very successfully. Follow Will’s and Hirepurpose’s advice for help with a great next step in your career.

 

Share Your Experiences How You Planned and Created An Effective Military To Civilian Career Transition!

 

Other Articles of Interest:

  1. USAA Leaving The Military Advice Page
  2. Hirepurpose
  3. Top Tips to Help Master a Phone and Video Interview
  4. Leverage Your LinkedIn Profile For Career Success

Author Biography: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 250 articles in over 150 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 Creighton University.  Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.  Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and www.CombatToCorporate.com.

1 Comment
Top Contributor
Hello Chad,

Combining my military career with some time on Wall Street, I would like to add one more tip for military personnel transitioning to the corporate world.

Once you are hired to a Senior Executive Position with a Corporation do not sit in your very distinguished office all day and enjoy a very distinguished lifestyle or you may go down the same road as General Shinseki who was the Director of Veterans Affairs.

Gen Shinseki was a very distinguished gentleman who continued to sit in his very distinguished office and enjoy a very distinguished lifestyle. Until one day he turned on the TV and saw the Top Story that veterans were dying as they were waiting for their VA medical appointments. It then dawned on Gen Shinseki that maybe he should get out of his very distinguished office and go find out what was happening in his organization. But it was too late at that point because the President had no choice but to replace him.

In his final press briefing I recall Gen Shinseki commented that he had placed too much trust that his senior subordinates were doing what was expected of them. If Gen Shinseki had been visiting a VA hospital once a week and talking to the staff and patients at each one of those hospitals that story would have had a much different ending.

I recall when General McDermott was the USAA CEO we didn't have all the technology we have today but Gen McDermott would send out a periodic brochure to all the members and the first page was his "Letter from the CEO" with a nice picture of him. It was his way of maintaining contact with his USAA Family.

Thanks for letting me provide that tip.

Airborne