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Experts Explore Core Challenges of the Military to Civilian Transition: Part III – Knowing Your Value

Welcome to the third and final part of our series, where we have been investigating three prominent factors faced by former military members transitioning to civilian employment.

In examining the knowledge of experts, and most specifically, veterans who have obtained success in the face of certain roadblocks, we have discovered significant commonality in the relayed experiences of former military members. The transition from military to private sector is one experience, while still exceptional to most civilians, has managed to achieve a considerable amount of overlap within the veteran community. For this reason, we wish to provide a service to you by shedding light on strategic tools which can aid in your accomplishment as a professional navigating the private sector.

Military Value -- Shadow_soldiers departing service

In our previous two pieces, we explored how Culture Shock and Translation are vital considerations to the transitioning service member.

For our closing article, we will focus on a subject closely linked to our last piece, but which more than deserves its own spotlight.

Knowing Your Value

While similar to Translation in core skills, by which you explore language and the utility of expression, knowing your Value takes this a step farther, as it becomes the source of your confidence and sense of self-worth when moving into the business world.

There are a multitude of things for every service member, past or present, to take pride in. However, carefully examining your skill set and personal experiences can provide you the foundation on which to build your professional career in the private sector. The meaning of Value here also extends beyond confidence—it moves into actual numbers to help you evaluate what level of compensation you can aim for. It is all too often that service members underestimate their own Value in these terms.

John Cooney, Army Reservist and Owner of Green and Gold Financial Panning in Middleboro, MA., has this to say:

Know the full value of what you were earning in the military. It is not just your salary, but also your basic allowance for housing, basic allowance for subsistence, etc. Don’t look at the military pay chart and think you can live the same lifestyle at the same salary on the civilian side.”

Mr. Cooney brings up some invaluable points. It is important not to simply take your paycheck numbers into account, but to also tabulate every feasible allowance into the equation. That is the number that more accurately reflects your entry-level earnings into the corporate world; and it’s a number much higher than most may think, before taking this new formula into account.

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Additionally, you may be interested in increasing your value! One of the best ways to do this is through higher education which, thanks to your service, is an option that is very likely on your table.

Dr. Tonisha M. Pinckney is the Director of Undergraduate and Graduate Criminal Justice Programs at Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA.  She is also the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of I AM MORE Institute for Excellence  & Social Responsibility, Inc. Dr. Pinckney is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts Board of Directors, and speaks often on the transition of military members to higher education and she has some insightful words of both encouragement and caution:

In looking for positions with low stress and high social impact, many [of those] transitioning to the civilian workforce look to higher education for positions as professions, adjuncts, and administrators.  Some think the job will be easy. Most do not consider that training a group of military personnel or training at an police or military academy is far different than that of a traditional college or university classroom setting.” 

This is an important consideration for those used to the day-to-day workings and reasonable expectations of life in the service. Dr. Pinckney continues:

“Even the best students are not as disciplined, require much more patience, and are in need of supports not usually the norm in military education or training. Additionally, there is more academic freedom. For some, this is a blessing, for the regimented individual the freedom can leave them frustrated.

As an educator, administrator, and trainer, I work with those transitioning to the civilian workforce by helping them translate military experiences, training, and responsibilities into terms that appeal to those in higher education. Most often, they are more experienced and qualified than they realized. I hope more people transitioning from military to civilian work choose higher education. We need their knowledge and would love to continue to support them in their new career path.”

In closing, we can reflect on the lessons here and underscore the value that every service member has to offer society in general and world of business in particular.

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Knowing your resources and capitalizing on the networks available to you are paramount to success.

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in career transition services for senior-level military decisions makers and government agency employees by assisting candidates in locating companies who welcome both their leadership and organizational talents.  

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Experts Explore Core Challenges of the Military to Civilian Transition: Part II – Translation

Welcome to part-two of our series, where we will be exploring three primary aspects that often present the most serious stumbling blocks to service members transferring into the civilian sector.

For this, we’ll be drawing upon the expertise of six professionals, some of whom are former officers and enlisted, who have forged success out of these challenges. We have found a great deal of commonality in the experience of former military members. This is one experience that, while still very unique to you in its expression, nevertheless has a considerable amount of overlap with others who have gone through the experience. It is in this way, by bringing these facets to light, that we hope to provide something of service to you and explore the key tools that can help you get ahead in the private sector.

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In our last piece, we explored Culture Shock, and how it can impact service members.

For this segment, we will expound upon:

Translation

Translation is our active verb of choice here, by which we mean the process of taking your military skills and training, and putting them into context for marketable civilian-sector skills. Your military skills, once properly translated, can become the centerpiece of your resume.

One of the best aspects of this endeavor is that, by and large, military skills are highly unique. Sure, anyone can list “leadership” as one of their abilities, but to be able to cite a proven track record of success under literal fire? As stressful as a corporate boardroom may be, actual life-threatening foxholes, they are not.

Now, for some experts thoughts, we would first like to introduce Gustavo Mayen, Esq., who holds an MBA at the Law Offices of Gustavo Mayen, and is a former Marine (2003-2008).

Gustavo says, “One thing I regret not doing prior to leaving the service is to seriously work on translating the skills I obtained while on active duty to the civilian sector. There are so many resources to help you do this, and doing it before entering the civilian sector will pay dividends in the long run. Plus doing it will teach you how to conform your service into whatever sector you decide to go into.”

Our second source of military wisdom on the subject is Bob Wiedower, Vice President of Sales Development and Military Programs at Combined Insurance, a Chubb company. Bob is a decorated veteran, having served in the United States Marine Corps for 22 years, retiring as a Squadron Commanding Officer.

Bob explains with professional eloquence that one of the most significant things a service member can learn how to do is to translate his or her military responsibilities, titles, and accomplishments into civilian (business) language. For instance, nearly everyone in military service is familiar with the title and position of First Sergeant, as well as what that individual does. Very few without military history, however, have the slightest notion of these details, beyond a general recognition.

What you need is Translation (or a translator!).

First Sergeant, in business language, can become something akin to: Senior HR Generalist.

According to Bob: “While sometimes difficult (to do), every position in the military can be converted into terms civilian counterparts can appreciate, and all results can be transformed as well.”

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With all this said, however, Gustavo reminds us that:

Understanding that your military service is only one consideration in the civilian sector, it is more important that you show whether you are a good fit for the company.

In the military, we practice over and over again, and do meticulously planning before executing a mission. Yet we fail to do the same when preparing to enter the civilian sector, like understanding what the company is looking for in a specific position, and more importantly, how you can show the company that you are a good fit for both that position and the company as a whole, which involves researching the company’s history, structure, mission and vision.”

Gustavo raises an excellent point; and you should remember to take into account that you’re seeking not only the positions you are qualified for, but that you’re doing so in a field and company (or industry) that you find suitable.

 

Fred Coon, CEO 

Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in career transition services for senior-level military decisions makers and government agency employees by assisting candidates in locating companies who welcome both their leadership and organizational talents.  

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Experts Explore Core Challenges of the Military to Civilian Transition: Part I – Culture Shock

The fundamental equation of the modern workforce is a balance between marketable skills and given levels of competition for the field in question. Even those who have spent the entirety of their career in the private sector can find significant challenges in bridging this gap.

This series will be exploring three primary things that can present the most serious stumbling blocks to service members transferring into the civilian sector. For this, we’ll be drawing on the expertise of six professionals, some of whom are former officers and enlisted, who have forged success out of these challenges. We have found a great deal of commonality in the experience of former military members.

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This is one experience that, while still very unique to you in its expression, nevertheless has a considerable amount of overlap with others who have gone through the experience. It is in this way, by bringing these facets to light, that we hope to provide something of service to you and explore the key tools that can help you get ahead in the private sector.

Our first contributor of note is Ed Brzychcy, a former U.S. Army Infantry Staff-Sergeant with service across three combat deployments to Iraq. After his time in the military, he received his MBA from Babson College and now coaches organizational leadership and growth through his consultancy, Blue Cord Management.

For this piece, our subject of focus is going to fall solidly on:

Culture Shock

In brief, “Culture Shock”, as used here, describes the difficulty an individual has in transferring their living environment from the military to the civilian sector.

As Mr. Brzychcy says: “The military is a highly structured organization where expectations are well set and regulated. Service members have their expectations well established in regards to job responsibilities, promotions, and workflow.”

Let’s explore that, because it presents a very considerable shift of day-to-day routines and expectations. Given that routines are such a large part of military life, it can be quite a shock to suddenly have those regularities and reliable measures absent. As harsh as any system can be, at the very least it sets a reliable expectation for almost any given scenario.

Far more disconcerting than even the harshest of punishment for failure to adhere to set standards, is the random chaos of having no set standards at all. Even if you do everything right and have the absolute best, ethically sound intentions, there is no guarantee it will be properly rewarded (or even noticed).

Another vet, identified to us as Adam, speaks through our contact Laura Folse, Public Relations Professional at Cooper Smith Agency, with these words:

The biggest issue I faced in acclimating to the civilian NON-Defense sector world was the loss of brotherhood, teamwork, loyalty, and the knowledge that all my workmates had my back. From the Captain to the fresh recruit. Through thick, thin, and everything in-between.

I could find no training course, seminar, or counseling available for this very human emotional loss, and quite frankly maybe there should be.

In the end it was ’me’ that was required to change in order to survive.

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While there are many challenges facing military service members of all levels, there are core issues of shared experience that bring them all together, to remind them that whatever they have lost, whatever new obstacles lie in front of them, once upon a time they had each other.

And it’s never too late to reach out. To understand the semblance and structure of shared experience is to fill in the gaps of your own, and it is with that professional understanding that we can rise to meet any new challenge.

Fred Coon, CEO

 

Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in career transition services for senior-level military decisions makers and government agency employees by assisting candidates in locating companies who welcome both their leadership and organizational talents.  

 

Transitioning From a Military to Civilian Career? 8 Tips From an Accomplished Veteran

As any veteran knows, making the transition from armed forces to the private sector often poses a myriad of individual challenges. However, remaining informed, and learning from other veterans who have successfully made the shift, will certainly improve a service-person’s passage into civilian life.

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John C. Buckley, II, retired Colonel of the U.S. Army, is a veteran, career coach/mentor, author, and an informed professional on the subject of military-to-civilian career transitions. Most recently, he has worked collaboratively to create and implement “military recruiting and retention programs”.

Buckley has stated that he was initially ill-equipped for the transitional challenges that lay before him. “It wasn’t until I put structure to my problem and began using military problem-solving tools that my performance and results improved,” says Buckley. He subsequently incorporated “military problem-solving tools” which improved his post-military performance as well as his ultimate results. Becoming familiar with the teachings of the historical military strategist/philosopher, Sun Tzu, was integral in his transitional approach. Buckley states, “I realized to achieve success in my transition ‘battle’ I needed to properly prepare for combat. So, I studied the ‘enemy’ (the recruiter), their methods of war (the application and selection process), and myself (by defending my own career interests)”. Buckley affirms that it was only then that he “stood victorious”, overcoming the transitional obstacles and challenges that lay before him.

“Start early, study and analyze the new complex operating environment – the private sector – before launching résumés “down range”, says Buckley. Since learning from his own past oversights, Buckley shares some useful advice to assist others with their transition from military service member to civilian employee.

1. Concentrate on your goal of molding a new career. Remember that this process is considerably more complicated than a basic job hunt. Therefore, identifying your objectives the first time around may save you from having to repeat another employment search the following year.

Related:  Choosing the Right Post-Military Career

2. Assertively pursue “informational interviews” with experts in your desired career or industry. Buckley reminds job seeking veterans, “It’s okay to listen to recently transitioned veterans, but you really need to interview someone who’s been working in your desired career field [for] their entire professional life”. It is only then that you can delve into the more obscure, yet equally valuable, details of your prospective industry.

Related:  Can You Really Be an Expert at Your Job?

3. Construct a career-focused network based on your field of interest. The next step is to leverage those connections with the purpose of gaining information on job opportunities, professional organizations and groups, types of educational and/or certification programs to pursue, as well as the cultural setting of prospective employers.

Related:  Networking Your Way Toward a New Career

4. Create a proactive and professional LinkedIn profile. While LinkedIn is the go-to for professional recruiting and networking, remember to maintain professionalism in all aspects of your online activity. Yet, when it comes to strictly professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, Buckley asserts, “Remove your official military photo, and remove all military jargon and references”. He continues, “Treat others on these networks professionally”. The etiquette for communicating on LinkedIn vastly differs from other social media sites such as Facebook, for instance. “To connect with another professional, use a connection in your network to ‘introduce’ you to the professional, or draft a detailed message explaining why you want to join the professional’s network”, says Buckley.

Related:  Important Reminders for Job Seeking on LinkedIn

5. Tailor résumés to your “audience”. While it may be easier to prepare, a one-size-fits-all résumé is not going to be ultimately effective in helping you land an interview for the job you really want. To create a résumé that will actually get you in the door, be sure to make use of the specifics listed in the job description, and then combine this information with your own transferrable skills. If necessary, don’t hesitate to seek professional résumé-writing assistance.

Related:  Military to Private: Transferrable Skills

6. Have an interview? Prepare, prepare, prepare. Buckley reminds transitioners that there are, in fact, “preconceived ideas about veterans”. While this is not a necessarily a negative aspect, it is still imperative to show that you are capable of successfully mixing with the culture of a private sector company. Therefore, “Rehearse your actions on the objective,” says Buckley. He also adds, “Practice how to answer situation-based interview questions,”, and finally “Learn how to speak a complete sentence without using one single military term, title or acronym”. It’s also important to remain relaxed and personable in a conversational sense, making sure your answers are complete.

Related:  The Best Way to Practice for Your Next Job Interview

7. Be ready to negotiate prior to an offer. When presenting a candidate with a job offer, most companies anticipate a certain amount of negotiation on the part of their recruit. However, it’s best to have these negotiation tools in your arsenal prior to receiving an offer to avoid potential vacillating when the time comes. Buckley recommends that veteran job hopefuls avoid an outward fixation on salary, since “[compensation] packages may provide programs that will strengthen the salary offered and may also be negotiated – perhaps even more easily. The key is to remain knowledgeable, flexible, reasonable, and enthusiastic, while steering clear of ultimatums.

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Related:  Guidelines for Evaluating a Job Offer

8. “Never leave a fallen comrade.” This “Warrior Ethos military philosophy is one that should always remain part of your value system. Buckley stresses the importance of helping fellow veterans overcome their own transitional challenges via the experience and knowledge gained your own conversion from service member to civilian employee.

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in career transition services for senior-level military decisions makers and government agency employees by assisting candidates in locating companies who welcome both their leadership and organizational talents.  

Direct Veteran Advice for a Successful Military Transition

Post-military personnel can take comfort in the fact that today, more than ever before, there is an abundance of resources for those in the transitory period toward civilian employment. Considering the number of challenges that members of the armed service can typically face during their return into the private sector, this is quite a pleasing acknowledgment.

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Case in Point

Many of those who wish to pursue a strong professional career in the private sector will have utilized their GI Bill towards a degree, generally congruent with their specialization. Take Brian Poole for an example: Brian served in Afghanistan and Iraq, specializing in “the avoidance and detection of large-scale chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weaponry threats.” After 21 years of service, Brian’s next step was to reflectively analyze the sum total of his experience and apply his training, developed skills, and military education toward marketable assets in the private sector. In Brian’s case, he was quickly able to draw three highly valuable abilities to the CV-foreground:

  • Logistics
  • Operations Management
  • Human Resources

Had Brian so desired, he could easily have taken a different path toward applying his more technical knowledge of engineering and chemistry, looking for work in those particular sectors. As the story goes, however, he used the above course to secure an excellent position with Wells Fargo in helping other veterans.

Tips & Takeaways

The Army Ten-Miler is an annual benefit race event produced by the MDW, with all 30+ years of its proceeds dedicated toward Soldier MWR programs. The Army Ten-Miler also acts as a box stand for soldiers to connect and to share experience and advice. Among this wealth of advice, shine some of the following guidelines, specifically applicable to those preparing for, or in the process of, transitioning from military to private life.

  1. One of the most vital tips is one of the most obvious: Make use of the resources available to you. Primarily, we’re talking about the GI Bill. This expansive opportunity allows you to pursue traditional academic credentials as well as vocational pursuits, flight school, and much more.
  2. It can be hard not to get tunnel vision after years of service and the behavioral difference between military and civilian life can get complicated. Take the emphasis you put on your rank, and what you did, and focus it in on your goals and professional development.
  3. Utilize your network. This primarily includes your family (for support), and your military experience (putting you in sync with current opportunities, such as finding the right Transitory Advisor, which can be a truly invaluable asset for personalized attention to your efforts).

Post-military personnel can take comfort in the fact that today, more than ever before, there are an abundance of resources for those in the transitory period toward civilian employment.

 

In Closing

To conclude, always remember that throughout every professional transition, you’re not operating alone. Even if a certain measure of red tape exists through which you must toil, doing so will more than compensate for the effort with benefits rendered. Be methodical and precise, and you will be able to apply the high-end skills you learned throughout your service to your direct advantage in the private sector world of corporate enterprise.

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in career transition services for senior-level military decisions makers and government agency employees by assisting candidates in locating companies who welcome both their leadership and organizational talents.  

 

Top Eight Business Careers for Military Veterans

If you are a military veteran, you may find that many of your skills are also transferrable to private sector office jobs.  According to Payscale.com lead analyst, Katie Bardaro, “People in the military attain valuable skills in information technology and leadership. They take that knowledge to the private sector”. She added that veterans have an advantage in the sense that the jobs which require these particular skills usually pay very well.

Recently, Monster.com reported on a PayScale survey based upon information from responding veterans.  A list was comprised of eight jobs; all of which paid more than $70,000 annually.  (All of the jobs require a bachelor’s degree.)

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1.  Software Developer

$70,800: Annual Median Salary

Incorporating the problem solving skills necessary for military personnel with an aptitude for mathematical concepts and computer programming is a great head start toward developing a career in software development.

2.  Electrical Engineer

$72,800: Annual Median Salary

A career as an electrical engineer is a natural choice for military veterans who dealt in creating electrical test standards, researching/perfecting navigation systems, and developing weapons. Besides engineering firms, veterans can locate work at public utilities and government agencies.

3.  Intelligence Analyst

$73,100: Annual Median Salary

This professional allows veterans to continue serving their country, even after retiring from the military. Frequently an FBI position, intelligence analysts work toward protecting U.S. national security by analyzing intelligence that’s been gathered through field offices and identifying realistic threats.

4.  Business Development Manager

$77,100: Annual Median Salary

Proper leadership is a crucial part of being a valuable member of the military. Commanding respect of fellow service people while planning for missions is a skill that easily lends itself to many careers in the private sector. Business development is certainly one of these careers, as managers in this field must composite formulas and strategies to cultivate a business, while also motivating others.

5.  IT Project Manager

$81,000: Annual Median Salary

When assorted portions of a technology project must be accomplished accurately and on time, it is the job of the IT project manager to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Project managers assure that team members are working according to plan. Veterans who were responsible for a unit or worked with multifaceted technology, in the field or on base, would possess the accuracy, leadership and organizational skills necessary for a successful career as an IT Project Manager.

6.  Aviation/Aerospace Program Manager

$84,300: Annual Median Salary

Veterans with aviation experience would complement this field.  Excellent organizational skills, and the ability to direct projects from beginning to end via research, design, testing, and integration are all part of a career in aviation/aerospace program management.

7.  IT Program Manager

$96,300: Annual Median Salary

Military troops are often required by their commanding officers to know the job of the person higher than them. Therefore, if a member is injured during battle, another can swiftly step in and make necessary decisions. In the private sector, the IT program manager is depended upon to learn and understand the job duties of all his or her team members — from start to finish — to assure that the project is successfully completed on time.

8.  Management Consultant

$98,100: Annual Median Salary

Military members are known for their efficiency; as they learn to work under circumstances where time management is a must, and jobs and missions must be successfully completed. Likewise, management consultants must recognize a client’s inefficiencies, and devise a resolution strategy.

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Related: Choosing the Right Post-Military Career

Note: All listed salaries provided are the average annual for full-time employees possessing between five and eight years of job experience in the field. Figures include commissions, bonuses, and/or profit sharing, according to the PayScale Database. Survey respondents are five-plus year veterans who stated that they were active service members in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, or Navy.

 

Fred Coon, CEO

Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in career transition services for senior-level military decisions makers and government agency employees by assisting candidates in locating companies who welcome both their leadership and organizational talents.  

 

Financial Advice for Transitioning Military Personnel

If you are in the process of transitioning from the military into the private sector, chances are you’ve been hard at work seeking civilian employment.  However, there are other factors to consider in addition to preparing your resume and confirming job interviews.  Whether you are still in the planning stages of your transition, currently experiencing a gap between your service time and employment, or starting out with a lower salary than anticipated, it’s crucial that transitioning service members make the necessary arrangements to protect their financial security during this somewhat tenuous time.

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Here, we review some important aspects to consider both before and during your transition:

  1. Start a Transition Nest-Egg – It’s never too soon to begin saving for your post-military life.  Plan to save enough to carry your basic living expenses for approximately one year, separate from your TSP funds.  While you may be lucky enough to transition straight into a civilian job, it’s still important to have a financial cushion to sustain you through any possible financial breaks.
  2. Pay Down Your Debt – A percentage of your income should be dedicated to paying off any remaining debt you have incurred.  As your transition date grows closer, increasing your debt payments will help reduce some of your financial post-military strain.  Of course, the balances with the highest interest rates should take first priority.
  3. Get Insured, Protect Your Loved Ones – The topic of life insurance is frequently neglected due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, but it is still an important part of your transition plan.  Transitioning military personnel are eligible for Veterans’ Group Life Insurance upon retirement.  To avoid medical underwriting, be sure to apply within 120 days of your departure.  However, if you wish to save costs, are generally in good health and a non-smoker, you may want to consider a commercial life insurance policy.  Remember to sign up at least six months prior to your retirement to ensure the best coverage for your family at the most affordable cost.
  4. Make Proper Use of Your TSP – Your Thrift Savings Plan is an important military benefit, but it must be handled responsibly.  Your choices are generally narrowed down into three basic options. 1) Leave your funds intact in your TSP account.  2) Roll your TSP funds into a conventional Individual Retirement Account.  3) Roll your funds over into your employer’s 401K plan, if offered.  Whatever your preference, your Thrift Savings Plan provides you with a tax-advantaged financial safety net.  However, think twice before cashing in, especially if you are 59 ½ or younger, as the income tax and withdrawal penalties would significantly reduce your profit.
  5. Watch Your Taxes – When it comes to post-military transitions, relocation often plays a major role.  Therefore, recent veterans must remember that different states often have different income tax laws.  Consider these variations when searching for jobs.  One that offers a lower salary in a state with fewer income tax deductions may actually pay off better than a slightly higher-paying position in a state with more exorbitant income taxes.  Researching these factors along with general cost of living details is a must during your transition.
  6. Consider Health Insurance Options – While you may have access to TRICARE as a military retiree, the service isn’t free, and you may decide to enroll in your employer’s benefit plan.  Of course, employer provided health insurance plans are never created equal as far as what they offer and the costs involved. Therefore, be sure to carefully compare your employer’s benefits against your TRICARE policy before making any final decisions. If you do choose an employer plan, remember to take these extra costs into account when negotiating your salary.

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Conclusion

The military-to-civilian transition phase can offer you the opportunity to truly take stock of your ultimate life goals, both personal and professional.  Creating a solid, realistic financial strategy will allow you to accurately recognize your future expenditures and budgeting needs; and help you make the most of your opportunities.

Fred Coon, CEO

 

Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in career transition services for senior-level military decisions makers and government agency employees by assisting candidates in locating companies who welcome both their leadership and organizational talents.  

 

Choosing the Right Post-Military Career

If you are a veteran transitioning into civilian employment, you may find that you are faced with many questions.  After all, such a change is often difficult and complex. You may wonder what type of role you should pursue; what field or industry you’re best suited for; and where you can make the best salary.  There is also the apprehension that you may make the wrong choice, and end up back at square one.

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Think first.

Before you make any final decisions, your first course of action is to identify your strengths and weaknesses.  Furthermore, remind yourself why you are leaving the military.  This may have a large effect on where you are headed.  For instance, a veteran who has simply retired from the armed forces will have different employment needs than a soldier with a hardship discharge.  In addition to helping you recognize your path, you will also be practicing for answers to common interview questions down the road.

Remain open-minded.

The biggest mistake a veteran (or any job seeker) can make is to overly limit your options.  For former military personnel who are seeking a corporate job, holding out for the Fortune 500 is not necessarily a good idea.  Don’t discard job opportunities at smaller, private companies, as they often provide a great opportunity for growth. Just remember to do your research.

Review your choices.

While you may already have a distinct view of the type of post-military career you plan to pursue, there is also a strong possibility you are confused and overwhelmed.  This may be especially true for career military personnel who have likely spent limited time in the civilian job market.  If this sounds familiar, you may want to seek out a formal career assessment to assist in isolating your strongest and most marketable skills, attributes, interests, and talents. There are also books available, directed toward former military personnel seeking this particular knowledge.

Another aspect not to be overlooked is the power of networking.  Keep your eye out for professionals working in your field of interest. Utilize professional networking sites such as LinkedIn, join groups, and remember to put the word out within your own social circles.  This is not the time to be reticent, especially if you want to benefit from the resources that surround you.  If fact, you will likely find that many would be happy to offer you their knowledge.

If you are still having difficulty deciding on a clear employment path, and you find that time is on your side, consider the benefits of continuing education.  Earning a degree in a brand new field will not only give you the knowledge to reach your goals, but a valuable competitive edge.

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Stay positive.

Remember that what you have achieved in your line of duty, alone, is more than many can ever hope to.  Don’t allow a few bumps in the road offset your enthusiasm toward reaching your post-military career goals, and enjoy this new and exciting stage in your life.

Fred Coon, CEO

 

Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in career transition services for senior-level military decisions makers and government agency employees by assisting candidates in locating companies who welcome both their leadership and organizational talents.  

 

3 Elements to Avoid in Your Post-Military Résumé

Preparing and creating a quality résumé can take on an entirely different spin when you are a military veteran seeking employment in the private sector for the first time.  While many of the same rules do apply (see our recent article, “Outstanding Résumés and How to Write Them”), there are a few fundamentals that post-military personnel should keep in mind while résumé-writing.

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Here is an overview of certain pitfalls to avoid when preparing a résumé for the civilian workforce:

  1. Avoid replicating your billet description.  Although your assignments, duties, and positions held while in the military are to be commended, steer clear of copy/pasting the complete text of your billet description directly into your résumé.  Instead, draw upon specific skills and expertise you gained in the armed forces that may relate to the civilian job or field with which you’re seeking employment.
  1. Avoid overly jargonized text. Keep in mind that your résumé is going to be read by civilians, most likely HR reps and hiring managers who likely do not have any military experience whatsoever.  Explaining your military duties is fine, but exchanging the military jargon for “civilian descriptives” will ensure that your résumé gets the consideration it deserves.
  1. Avoid information relating to personal affiliations.  While indications of awards and group memberships are perfectly fine, do not include any information that reveals your race, ethnicity, religious background or political party affiliations, etc.  Unfortunately, precarious, “hot button” topics such as these can cause employers to sidestep your résumé altogether.

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With these tips in mind, what else should veterans keep in mind when creating a résumé? 

Well, proofreading is certainly a non-negotiable.  However, other aspects, such as keeping a clean and simple format, not exceeding two pages (even better if you can reduce it to one page), and making sure your contact information (including your email address) is clear and current, are among the basics which will help give your résumé a professional and competitive edge.

For sample résumés and downloadable templates, websites such as ResumeGenius can offer some great resources for all first time-time résumé writers.

 

Fred Coon, CEO

 

Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in career transition services for senior-level military decisions makers and government agency employees by assisting candidates in locating companies who welcome both their leadership and organizational talents.  

7 Advantages to Hiring Military Veterans

Recently, employers in the private sector have begun to further recognize the magnitude of exceptional talents and strengths that military veterans have to offer the civilian workforce.  Established civilian business owners as well as veterans seeking to leverage their military background in the job market should review and consider the following attributes which make former military personnel so valuable to civilian employers.

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1.  Consistent work ethic

Veterans are adept at realizing the significance of creating and maintaining a working schedule.  Staying motivated and adhering to a specific itinerary shows responsibility and maturity; and through their service, military veterans have mastered this skill.

2.  Strong capacity for leadership

Since most veterans have spent a great portion of their military careers in leadership positions, it’s only natural that former military personal will not only gravitate toward, but thrive in, civilian leadership employment roles.

3.  Take action with follow-through

Post-military personnel have a knack for seeing the big picture in a challenging situation and understand when action must be taken. Military culture conditions service members to remain on task until the goal (or mission) is accomplished, which makes them ideal civilian personnel, as well.

4.  Education-friendly

Since individuals who choose to serve their country are also eligible for government financial assistance toward college and higher education, employers can be confident that their new post-military associate is likely capable of earning a degree toward their choice of civilian vocation, if they have not already.

5.  Team loyalty

During a time when the employee turnover rate is at a noticeable high, military veterans are one group that employers can rely upon for a sense of trust and company loyalty.  Due to their background and training, veterans are known to shine as solid team players in the workplace.

6.  Self-discipline

The temptation to peruse social media or online shopping sites, for instance, can be overwhelming to even the best employees.  However, respecting and honoring the rules of their employer at all costs is a clear strong suit of post-military personal.  Their ability to work autonomously while still adhering to guidelines is always a welcome asset to employers.

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7.  Further incentives

In addition to the attributes listed above, employers and military veterans should also remember that state and federal governments will offer certain tax credits and incentives to companies who hire post-military personal.  This not only benefits employers, but adds employability value to veterans seeking civilian employment.  More information on government tax incentives for employing veterans can be found here:

National Guard Center for America: American Jobs for American Heroes [PDF]

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs: Veterans Opportunity to Work

 

Fred Coon, CEO

 

Stewart Cooper & Coon specializes in career transition services for senior-level military decisions makers and government agency employees by assisting candidates in locating companies who welcome both their leadership and organizational talents.