How to Plan and Target Your Career Search, Networking and Transition Plan

How to Plan and Target Your Career Search, Networking and Transition Plan - USAA Member CommunityUpdated July 2021


Having a strategy for your online presence that best represents your skills and strengths is just one of my key elements in a military-to-civilian transition checklist. This is part two in a series on military-to-civilian transition. Check out the first article in this series: 9 Steps to Understanding the Current Business and Hiring Environments


There were many things I wish I knew going into the process of my own journey into the civilian workforce. The following is my advice for a career-planning checklist for those leaving active duty or for military veterans who are looking for a new career or opportunity. The goals of this transition checklist is for you to identify your career goals, identify how to translate your military skills into understandable and quantified accomplishments for your resume, create a robust network in the Geography-Industry-Occupation that you want to work and live.  Finally, it also ensures a process that helps you improve your skills throughout the career transition process.


Up next in our checklist: How to Plan and Target Your Career Search, Networking and Transition Plan   


Once you have identified your career goals through the Geography-Industry-Occupation (GIO) process, you now need to prioritize your GIO list and create a networking plan.  A networking plan’s goal is to create contacts with individuals that can help you find opportunities and help you improve your personal demeanor to maximize your hiring changes. 


  • Confirm and organize your GIO mind map into a prioritized list.


  • Conduct research to match company executives to your prioritized GIO list for Networking.
  1. Potential Source: ReferenceUSA from InfoUSA.
  2. Potential Source: Hoover’s Business & Industry Directory.
  3. Potential Source: Yellow pages and Google searches.
  4. Source: Local newspaper and business periodicals.
  5. Your local library or on-base library should have access to many of these data sources.
  • Create an Excel database of contacts with individual name, company name, mailing address, email and phone for a professional network database.

1.  Your goal is to identify 100-200 contacts in the geography, industry and occupation where you wish to work.
2.  These should be executives throughout the company, not just Human Resources.
3.  These people will be used for a direct mail, letter writing campaign to build your network.


  • Continue professional reading and developing general business knowledge.


  • Talk to other contacts, recent veterans, and other transition resources on your transition plan and their recommendations.


  • Continue to perfect your resume, cover letter and translation of military to business skills. Ensure a strict focus on how your actions achieved results and quantify results and responsibilities.


  • Purchase an initial professional wardrobe of business and business-casual attire. Be sure your wardrobe reflects the industry and occupation you’re interested in.



  • Schedule and conduct 4-5 practice interview sessions to improve your interview process.


  • Do a final check of your GIO transition and networking plan.


  • Create a list of future job fairs, especially job fairs that focus on military veterans, in priority and in the areas that support your GIO list.



Using a checklist and creating a plan to follow, like using these suggestions, can help you better plan a successful military-to-civilian transition.


Up next in part three of this series, I’ll share my insights and experience on how to execute your post-military career search and transition while creating your personal network.


Related articles:

Part One: 9 Steps to Understanding the Current Business and Hiring Environments


Related resource:

Leaving the Military - USAA


Have something to add to this article? Share your advice in the comments below:

About the blogger:
Chad Storlie is the author of two books: Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. An adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University and Bellevue University in Omaha, NE. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces officer with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.