Use Military Strategy to Create Options for Your Civilian Career

Use military strategies for a civilian career - USAA Member Community


by Chad Storlie


A great deal of military strategy involves finding different ways to achieve and to solve ongoing problems.  For example, parachuting, airborne gliders, helicopters, and aircraft like the Osprey were all designed to find ways to move forces faster and safely around enemy formations.  Your career planning can benefit from the use of some of these military tactics.


Finding ways to create and to discover options for a career change, a promotion, or the military-to-civilian transition process can be an enormous challenge.  Often times, when we transition, we believe that the job application process is the same as the job search process.  We start applying for jobs, then more jobs, until our career change plan is only a collection of job applications.  In fact, with most transitions, you should apply for jobs last and discover what you want to do first!


The first step to truly finding what you want to do is to pause, to regroup, and start creating priorities around where you want to work, what industries you want to work in, and in which occupations.  To discover your options, you can go to a military-themed acronym called G-I-O.  G-I-O stands for Geography, Industry, and Occupation.  Geography is where you want to live (2-3 locations); Industries are the broad types of business areas (Transportation and Warehousing are examples, pick 2-3 industries); and Occupation is the group of professions within those Industries (Cost Accounting is an example, pick 1-2 occupations).  Once you develop these G-I-O components, you rank order them in a list.








Power Generation

Wind Turbine Maintenance


Eastern Iowa

Power Generation

Wind Turbine Maintenance




Distribution Center Manager


North Nevada


Distribution Center Manager


You should have 4-6 different items in your G-I-O list.  Once you have this done, then start-discovering companies that work in the geographic area you specified and are in the Industry that you want to work in.  At this point, do not look for specific openings, yet.  Instead research the business success these companies have, their growth outlook, financial health, and if they are a good employer.  When you find a good employer, then start adding companies to your list.


When you have companies identified, then place 2-3 companies per Geography-Industry-Occupation category.  You should have 2-3 companies per G-I-O category.  In the end, you should have 8-12 total companies that you can start networking and applying for positions.  You can also use this same G-I-O framework within your existing company to develop career plans and next steps for a promotion.


Career planning and finding opportunities is like military strategy because they both revolve around finding new ways to discover all your options for a successful future.  The biggest mistakes people make is that they do not identify what they want to do, where they want to live, and they do not find an attractive industry to work in.  The use of the G-I-O framework and a mindset of military strategy that seeks to discover companies that are aligned with all your interests helps to ensure a successful and interesting career.


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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.




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