Military Transition Advice - Camouflage

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.

Military Transition Advice - Camouflage

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

For this segment, we will expound upon:


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.”

Military Transition Advice - Amer Flag

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.  


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.


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.

military to private

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.  


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.

Soldiers with military camouflage uniform in army formation

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.  


10 Ways Military Vets Benefit Their Civilian Employers

Military Networking - Soldier and Civilain Shaking handsMilitary veterans possess a built-in work ethic, which translates to a strong sense of dedication, discipline, and reliability in the workplace.  Additionally, many of the skills and expertise acquired during their time in the military are invaluable assets to employers in all types of industries.  However, despite these facts, it is often difficult to make the transition from the military into the private sector, which is why veterans should never lose sight of their true importance and worth to the civilian work force.

Here are some of the most positive attributes military veterans consistently offer their civilian employers:

1.  Ability to Lead

Soldiers receive special training where they acquire the ability to inspire, motivate, and lead. They are adept at taking responsibility for their duties and actions; all attributes of a superior leader.

2.  Strategic and Organizational Skills

Meticulous planning and the capacity to create and maintain an organized work space is a valuable proficiency common to military veterans, making them indispensible to any work environment.

3.  Capacity to Work Under Pressure

Military training often converts into an elevated threshold for pressure during stressful situations.  Staying cool during high-stakes situations and the ability to view the larger picture are also favorable characteristics to civilian business leaders.

4.  Team-oriented

Teamwork is fundamental to all areas of the military, and subsequently, most jobs in the civilian sector as well.  However, the intensity and degree of collaboration learned by and required of soldiers is in a category all its own, and therefore, highly valuable to civilian employers.

5.  Strong Work Ethic

Since soldiers are conditioned to work until the task or mission is completed, employees with military background are known for applying this ethos to their post-military employment. Timeliness and attention to detail are also common qualities found in veterans, making them often relied upon as key employees in the civilian workforce.

6.  Technical Competency

Technological know-how is essential for military recruits, and the army is where some of the most advanced technology is learned. Members of the military are often among the first individuals to learn and adapt to brand new technological advances as well as the latest global business developments.

7.  Goal-oriented

Veterans have learned to maintain an enormous level of focus and dedication; the concept of giving up or quitting before a goal is reached is simply not an option.  This is strongly advantageous to civilian business leaders who often share a similar mindset and seek employees who do, as well.

8.  Honest and Loyal

There is simply no room for deceit or dishonor in the military; therefore, when an employer hires a veteran, they can be confident in the star-stripe-flag-american-old-glorycharacter and honorability of their new employee. Also, an individual loyal enough to pause his or her own life to serve their country is sure to apply the same ethos to other aspects as well, including post-military employment.

9.  Compliant

Military veterans understand that specific structures and policies are implemented to ensure the well-being of an organization and its associates.  They believe in maintaining a level of respect for rules as well as those who have implemented them.

10.  Maintain Transparency

Parallel to honesty, transparency is highly valued in today’s workforce, and soldiers customarily exhibit this quality.  Owning up to errors and avoiding cover-ups is highly upheld by both the military and civilian employers, alike.

It’s clear that veterans present an exclusive set of skills and principles that are often uncommon in today’s workforce.  Be sure to include these competencies when preparing your resume, cover letter, job application, or interview responses; and do not lose sight of your immense potential when making the often challenging transition into civilian employment. 



By Fred Coon, CEO


Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.

Military to Corporate: How to Shift Your Communication Styles

communicating ideasThe transition from the heavily ingrained military culture to the corporate, civilian environment can be one of the greatest challenges facing post-duty service men and women today. And one of the key aspects of this transition is the manner in which communication differs in these starkly contrasting worlds.

It’s vital to understand here that this isn’t simply a “different way of doing things”; the subject today, is about fundamentally different cultures and different languages.

The Military

On the field, force of arms and virtue of rank carry the day. The demands of performance that flow from that environment are rapid-response, no hesitation, and unswerving commitment to the task at hand

A key concept here is that of military bearing. You have been trained to take a full dressing, up and down, and maintain an impassive discipline. The civilian world operates under different rules, where that manner of communication occurs only if something has gone very, very wrong.

You’ll also be accustomed to an exacting precision of both conduct and hierarchy. Both of these, though the former more than the latter, will be far more mutable in the civilian world.


The Corporate

In the boardroom, the spoken and written word is the driving force.

One of the key differences that may take the most adjustment for soldiers is the environment which fosters creativity, or collaboration. The blending and melding of ideas and the free flow of working concepts is the heart of innovation. As such, many roles, attributes, and responsibilities are flexible and fluid as collaborative projects spanning multiple departments flow back and forth – this is the realm of lateral strategy and assignments.

One of the greatest advantages to the corporate field is that the more matrix-oriented organizational system (rather than the militaristic ladder dynamic) is the near-unbounded potential for rising up the ranks – and fast, depending on your skills, leadership, and networking abilities.


The Common Misconception

One of the most persistent misconceptions is that military members are only good for following orders – their contribution to the corporate structure is simply carrying out directives. Rather, the truth is that many, in their time in the military, are taught leadership skills that are of rare quality in the civilian world, such as: fast decision making, taking full responsibility, keeping a cool head no matter what’s happening, and so much more.

There will be an adjustment period – acknowledge and accept that. It is both normal and perfectly understandable. It also helps to know that your biggest challenge is in the narrative, because it is a very well understood issue.


Group sharing ideas in office settingThe journey from one side of the uniform to the other can be a daunting one, in both the coming to and the going from. The most important thing to know is that you’re not alone, and there are resources and people ready and waiting to work with you toward your next successful steps.

By Fred Coon, CEO

Take your job search and LinkedIn profile to new levels and achieve your career goals with Leveraging LinkedIn for Job Search Success 2015 will transform how you use LinkedIn on a daily basis and create a profile that will WOW recruiters and hiring managers.

Corporate IT Security

SC&C Military Trained IT Security ProfessionalsFar too many executives are unaware of the security requirements and protocols for protecting their company’s data. They don’t need to become computer scientists, but they need to shed the notion that the IT Department will solve everything.

As a trained IT professional in the Armed Services, you are well aware of the priority of securing and maintaining sensitive information. When transitioning from your military career to the private sector, here’s some areas to focus on during your interviews.

Data Briefs to the Executives

It could be as simple as suggesting a briefing report from their IT Department about current risks and behaviors that are likely to create problems by the staff within the company. And once established, it’s important to get a monthly, or if they recommend it, a weekly report to stay up to date.

For example, clever companies monitor the installation of all software on company computers and laptops. Only designated software is installable. That means the executive or salesman on the road cannot install automatic password software, preventing access to the company’s data in the event of loss or theft.

Some travelers have taken to carrying two laptops: one for business, one for pleasure. Others submit software they want to add for certification by their IT department. Take it from someone who’s been there and make sure all software is approved before installation.

Cloud Storage as a Security Measure

Not everybody has heard of Marc Benioff, a former Oracle executive, who founded, but he popularized the concept of rented software sitting on the cloud instead of people owning the software and placing it on their own computers. The concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) has fueled the organization since its inception in 1999. Their main focus is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, which, by and large, runs on the cloud.

Naturally this $40 billion corporation is concerned with cybersecurity and enhanced methods of dealing with copious amounts of data. Benioff submitted a report to President George W. Bush in 2004 for the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) urging the government to spend an additional $90 million per year at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as well as increasing funding to DARPA and the DHS.

Benioff said the government needed to recruit and retain cybersecurity researchers and students at research institutions to double the number of specialists before the end of the decade. Even more importantly, he urged that cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies developed by the Federal government needed to be made available to the private sector as quickly as possible.

“Everybody should have security as his or her number one priority because we are in a highly dynamic environment. That is not going to change. […] I have zero arrogance when it comes to cybersecurity. I am paranoid all the time because I see all the things that are happening and I am completely worried every single day about security, and everybody should be.” – Marc Benioff

Train Executives on Obvious Security Measures


The situation has certainly improved over the last decade. Antivirus software has only gotten better; instead of having to sit for hours scanning for viruses, all of the good AV programs have what is called Resident Protection. It runs all the time and detects as soon as a virus is loaded into the memory space and takes action to contain it.


Most companies are clever enough to have anti-spyware installed as well. As above, the good versions are provided with Resident Protection. The IT department can schedule these to run full scans automatically in periods of low use, which prevent the theft of login data such as names or passwords and other personal information such as credit cards, bank accounts, or even your operating system’s registration number.

SC&C Military IT ProfessionalsFirewalls

While firewalls are no replacement for antivirus software, they’re still essential. There are as many as 65,535 doors or ports into and out of a computer that are managed by your firewall. Most of them are closed most of the time. All the ports numbering lower than 1,024 are called “well-known ports” and generally have accepted uses.


Some businesspeople can spend two hours a day reading emails. Make sure the company has anti-spam software installed to minimize the amount of junk employees have to wade through in order to get to the really important content.

Automatic OS updates

No well-run company would be without automatic updates of your operating system (probably Windows). Fixed computers in the office should be automatically updated as soon as a release comes into the IT department. Wireless laptops should be programmed to check-in every time they’re turned on, and every couple of hours thereafter that they remain on.


Incremental backups should run constantly. Just as your word processor should make a copy of whatever you’re working on every 5 or 10 minutes, so should your corporate system. The loss of a $1,000,000 order because of a blackout is unacceptable.

Corporate Speak for Military Transition

Enlighten yourselves. Knowing that these systems exist, and at least the rudiments of how they work, can help you make better decisions. It can also help you avoid self-sabotaging, treacherous policy implementation. IT can usually fix mistakes, but it’s so much better not to make them in the first place.

As you transition from your military career to the private sector in an IT position, are you ready to present your knowledge and skills in the language that these companies speak? Military backgrounds are commonly associated with loyalty, dedication, and hard work but hiring managers may not see the invaluable training and skills you bring. Make sure you know the little things of IT security as well as the overall organization and importance of it.

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of senior military and other personnel transition their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200 or visit their LinkedIn page at

Job Search Plan for Female Veterans

SC&C job search advice for female veteransIf males leaving the military are having troubles with transitions, imagine how the females are faring. As discussed in previous articles, there are facilities in place to help veterans transition to civilian life. But why isn’t this working for the women as well as the men? These programs founded nearly 20 years ago haven’t really evolved since women started entering into active service.

It’s time for female military veterans to take control of their job search campaigns and put a plan into action.

Female Veterans’ Stories

Holly Mosack (Army-discharged 2004) who worked in public affairs in the Army, providing personnel and administrative support to combat forces, laments “even if I told employers that I had an HR background, the civilian sector wouldn’t agree.” It all comes down to certifications.

Christa Fazio (Navy-discharged 2006) is eminently qualified as an electronics communication systems specialist. “In some areas I’m over skilled, but in some areas, like professional certifications, I’m way behind the curve.”

Translating Military Skills to Civilian Speak

In the military, your ranking and designation clearly indicate which certifications you possess. It’s not necessary to have a piece of paper describing what your skills and certifications are, but that doesn’t carry any weight to the public sector. If you don’t have that slip of paper, as far they’re concerned, you’re unqualified.

Women who never served in the military are facing an unemployment rate several points lower than female veterans. They’re actually finding employment more easily than men. The female veterans, however, are facing increasing unemployment and homelessness.

Not only do they lack certifications, but their skills are difficult to translate into “civilian-ese” so that employers know what they mean. Veteran Affairs isn’t really set up to assist women. Research by advocacy groups find the VA inadequate in the areas of childcare, health care, and psychological needs for women returning from active duty.

Certification Skills Tests

Perhaps the solution is as simple as the military adopting certification programs to test the female veterans’ skills. They know their training is good, often exceeding the training within the public sector, so issuing a document equivalent to an institutional certificate would be fine.

If that would raise the hackles of educational institutions, perhaps they would be willing to offer a fast-track course for the skills the military personnel already possess. That way they could focus on upgrading or acquiring new skills to aid in their employment, and they could acquire a certificate from a certificate-granting institution, keeping it official.

Job Search Plan before Military Discharge

SC&C Female Veterans need to join social mediaWomen are no different than men in most respects. They have to plan their job search strategy before exiting the military. Some actions to take include:

  • Set up an account on Facebook, LinkedIn, Rallypoint, and other social media so that you can network to help you find coaches and sponsors in the industry in which you’re interested.
  • Use this time to fill any gaps in your military record while it’s still free to get training.
  • Get any certifications you can as your tour winds down. Time invested now could save you months once you’re out.
  • Research to see what’s out there in terms of jobs. Getting those feelers out early and pursuing any leads might put you in the enviable position of having a job as soon as you walk out the gate.

If you find yourself lacking in skills, research educational institutes that favor veterans. Get some courses lined up and use your benefits to get qualified. If you can breeze through a course where you already have the skills just to acquire that piece of paper, it could save you a lot of heartache when you are out there trying to get a job.

Better yet, find a mentor. It might be a friend or someone who turned up through research. In any case, if you find someone who has successfully transitioned to the civilian world, ask them for advice. They probably have some great insights for you.

This is just like any other mission. You know how to do it; you have your orders. Move out!

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of senior military and other personnel transition their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200 or visit their LinkedIn page at

Alphabet Soup – Military Language to Civilian Speak

MOS, AFSC, NEC, DMOS, and MOSQ…It’s quite a collection of letters isn’t it?  The question is: how do we turn that into a job in the civilian world?

SC&C Military Resume LanguageChris Mandia of reminds us–Military veterans often have a wide range of skills and talents civilian employers are seeking. But sometimes the veterans and the employers don’t speak the same language.

Believe me, nothing is more intimidating to a civilian employer unfamiliar with military codes than to see a list of them on a resume. Many jobs simply don’t translate to civilian life in their native state. That’s why they invented tools to do the conversion for you. By simply selecting your branch of the service and entering your code, the program can pump out resume-compatible descriptions that will make sense to civilian employers.

Making Your Resume into Civilian Speak

Take O*Net for example. I picked Air Force and tossed in the designation for Bomber Pilot (11B4Z).

Suddenly I have all sorts of useful resume-friendly information. For example:

  • Work as part of a flight team with other crew members, especially during takeoffs and landings.
  • Use instrumentation to guide flights when visibility is poor.
  • Start engines, operate controls, and pilot airplanes to transport passengers, mail, or freight, adhering to flight plans, regulations, and procedures.
  • Contact control towers for takeoff clearances, arrival instructions, and other information, using radio equipment.
  • Monitor gauges, warning devices, and control panels to verify aircraft performance and to regulate engine speed.
  • Respond to and report in-flight emergencies and malfunctions.
  • Steer aircraft along planned routes, using autopilot and flight management computers.
  • Check passenger and cargo distributions and fuel amounts to ensure that weight and balance specifications are met.
  • Monitor engine operation, fuel consumption, and functioning of aircraft systems during flights.
  • Inspect aircraft for defects and malfunctions, according to pre-flight checklists.

It continues by listing Tools and Tech I’m familiar with such as Air Comms, Guidance, Flight Computers, etc. It carries on by listing Areas of Knowledge such as physics, transportation, geography, mathematics, computers and electronics. It lists my Skills such as active listening/learning, critical thinking, complex problem solving, judgment, decision-making, and so on. It then goes on to list Abilities, Work Activities, Work Context, Job Zone, Education, Credentials, Interests, Work Styles, Work Values, Related Occupations, Wages & Employment, Job Openings, and Additional Information.

You can do the same thing at where they’ll list civilian equivalents and show you openings that need your skills. There are more similar sites that aren’t difficult to find.

The Result

This takes away all the scary stuff for the prospective employer (in this particular instance, applying for a job as an airline pilot) so that they know you have the skills. They can confidently conclude that you’ve had the very best training in the world.

And it works for any branch of the service, turning a non-descript Petty Officer into Supervisor tasked with increasing employee long-term productivity which gives you the opportunity to fill in examples. You have to learn to brag significantly on your own behalf. Other service personnel understand what your achievements mean; civilians don’t.

At (Real) Ease—Body Language!

And loosen up please! I don’t mean parade rest, or at-ease. This person is not your C.O. When youre talking to somebody, dont be afraid to break eye contact periodically. While theyre speaking, feel free to touch or even pinch your chin a little. This is body language that tells them that you’re thinking deeply and seriously considering what they have to say. People like it when they know they’re making an impact and that you care about their remarks.

SC&C Civilian Body LanguageNod your head slightly when they make a good point and don’t be afraid to use a very slight quizzical tilt (like a dog that’s trying to understand a human speaking to it). All this reinforces the importance of the things that the speaker is saying.

More importantly, unlike the military culture, civilian culture uses a conversational communication style. While you are more accustomed to the top-down, decision-making process, civilian organizations benefit through contributions from more people. Your success is dependent on helping to arrive at solutions that benefit the organization, not merely executing directives.


In most ways civilians are the same as us. The significant differences are that they are less direct in their speech; decisions are less urgent and take more time; and the structure is far less rigid. As a consequence you must adopt their style, since they will not adopt yours.

  • Learn to speak their language—“Yeah, I see what you mean, Paul. I wonder if we could build on that by…”
  • Learn patience with the slower decision-making process.
  • Take advantage of the less rigid structure by balancing your work time with your life time.
  • But mostly just be good at your job! Don’t make people feel bad if they’re not as capable as you. Simply set a good example and others will follow.

So let’s get out there and get to work. Dismissed!

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of senior military and other personnel transition their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200 or visit their LinkedIn page at

Becoming a Civilian — The Transition from the Military

SC&C military transition to civilian lifeAs a member of a military family, routines can be strikingly similar to civilian life. The soldier goes to work Monday thru Friday, is usually home for dinner, has holidays off, and takes vacation time during the year. Of course there are duty days when the active military member must stay on the base for 24 hours, or a weekend day is suddenly gone. Every soldier is subject to that.

A military family also can’t move wherever they want to; they have to stay in the town where they are stationed. They could change apartments or houses as they see fit, as long as they were still near the base.

Deployments are a fact of life. One might be obliged to spend nine months in Iraq, a year in Okinawa, or maybe just a month and a half overseas. It can be quite disruptive to be separated for such an extended period.

The good part is the insurance is covered and there is a steady paycheck. The nonmilitary partner has the ability to dedicate themselves to child rearing, a civilian job, or chickens in their backyard if the notion strikes them. It can be a tradeoff, but some people really blossom with the reliability and organization.

Rich Morin of Pew Research tells us, Military service is difficult, demanding and dangerous. But returning to civilian life also poses challenges for the men and women who have served in the armed forces, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of 1,853 veterans. While more than seven in ten veterans (72%) report they had an easy time readjusting to civilian life, 27% say re-entry was difficult for them.

When You Leave the Military

Things change once you’re “out.” You’ve gotten used to the structure and the way things work. Realigning your sensibilities to a civilian viewpoint can lead to some misunderstandings, for both parties.

The military has a top-down hierarchy in which the top person makes a decision and it’s passed down through the chain. In business that is looked upon as an old-fashioned model that is seldom used anymore.

Modern computer integration and information sharing across all departments has led to a matrix structure rather than a hierarchy. Better, well-considered decisions are arrived at by consensus.

In the military, roles are well-defined and clear; everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and when they’re supposed to do it. In business it’s a little more flexible; roles and status can be more ambiguous. This allows creativity and increased synergy, which in turn leads to more evolved solutions to complex problems.

In the military you advance rank by rank, designation by designation, and your career path is clear. In business career progression relies more on individual initiative and creativity as well as the ability to work outside your area of specialization. Accepting a parallel assignment outside of your area of specialization can lead to sudden, great strides in your career.

One’s ability to network can boost a career explosively. Quite often a meritocracy prevails, where if someone is good at something they get rewarded. It’s not unheard of for a new but brilliant employee to rapidly climb the corporate ladder and become a vice president of development.

Even the most astonishingly talented enlisted private will never make colonel in just a few months. The corporate world loves diamonds in the rough and will provide training and incentives to get clever people into positions that will do the company the most good.

Brooke Julia, of Demand Media: The military offers quite a few benefits that most civilian jobs don’t offer. On the other hand, civilian jobs provide more freedom than most military positions.


For someone that has recently left the military it can take a while to get the confidence to contribute. It’s not a case of questioning orders; it’s a case of cooperative effort to develop a satisfactory solution.

If your boss says, “See if you can get these contracts signed by the end of the day,” and you have an idea, it wouldn’t be wrong to say, “I can do that for you, but if I could make a suggestion…” you might find them very willing to listen to another idea, discuss it with you, and implement a new solution.

Civilian life is not Military life. There’s more freedom to explore and contribute. Take advantage of it.

Stewart, Cooper & Coon has helped many high-level military personnel transition from their military careers into a nonmilitary. Learn more about how SC&C can manage your transition and connect with them on LinkedIn at

The Successful Approach to Leaving a Job

SC&C Career TransitionHow you leave a job, in addition to how you begin a new one, has a significant impression on you as a professional, individual, and employee. In order to remain successful and productive in your career, you need to take a highly effective approach in not only starting a job and applying your skills but in effectively leaving a job.

No matter the circumstances regarding a job transition, you need to remain mature, professional, and positive in doing so in order to establish a strong lasting impression that helps you to further progress throughout your career instead of derailing you due to a negative approach.

Significant Approaches for a Career Transition

In this article I will be going over the 9 significant approaches to take in leaving your job.

1. Remain Connected with a Strong Network

In the process of transitioning through a job change, make sure to remain connected with your colleagues and managers if the situation allows you to do so. Avoid just leaving without communicating your appreciation for their support throughout your job. Make sure to send thank-you letters to the colleagues who contributed to your success in some way, and leave your address and phone number in order to remain connected.

SC&C Career Transition Stay PositiveYour positive attitude and dignity with others throughout your transition will have a strong effect on your future and ensure you maintain a strong network of support in doing so.

2. Maintain Courage in Your Transition in Order to Let Go

Embracing a change through confidence and courage with the ability to let go is essential to your future success and in fitting into a new company culture. Make sure to focus on the future instead of the past in order to make a successful career/job transition. Your ability to let go will definitely improve your ability to focus on the future and achieve success on a faster level than otherwise.

3. Leave in an Organized Fashion

Remain organized during your leave in order to maintain a professional impression. Make sure your desk, computer, and files are very organized and clean. Maintain responsibility regarding various meetings and projects with colleagues and managers.

Don’t become less involved due to the fact that you are leaving. You need to remain 100% involved in your job until the day you leave.

4. Remain Positive

Make sure to remain positive with your thoughts and interactions. Avoid negative discussions about your boss, colleagues, or the company. Even if you are hurt and are angry regarding your situation, make sure to not let others in on your feelings. This will only create a negative, messy reaction and situation.

Express your appreciation and reminisce on positive events and successes you and your colleagues and superiors have collaborated on. Remember, you need to do everything you can to leave your job on a positive note in order to leave a favorable impression.

5. Recognize the Value of Your Former Position

In order to successfully move on and attain your highest degree of success, you need to effectively reflect upon and come to terms with the value of your current experience. Every job has impacted you positively on a certain level. You have almost always learned and achieved something new and significant in all of your experiences.You need to reflect and focus on the positive and remain excited for the future and the unknown.

6. Set Up Time to Enjoy Life

Prior to beginning your next career endeavor and transition, be sure to make time for leisure. This can be through a weekend vacation, dinner with friends, and so on. Your opportunity to unwind, laugh, and become invigorated if time allows you to do so, is important in preparing you to effectively approach your next career move.

7. Identify Your Support Group

Your connectivity and interaction with friends and other individuals through a strong support group is essential in order to effectively progress through this challenging time. Even if you feel reclusive with little to no desire to connect with others, make sure to take time to associate with others whether through networking events, friends, family, and so on. Also, be sure to utilize the support of others. Know who is supportive in your life, and remain associated with these individuals.

You surely are not the only one who has experienced a job loss or gone through a major transition, and it is significant for you to realize that you are not alone in order to maintain the strength in moving on.

8. Embrace New Opportunities

By addressing and remaining positive about change no matter what the circumstances, you will enable yourself to acknowledge new opportunities for success. Change, whether through a negative or positive event, can possibly turn a negative into a positive with the opportunity to learn new skills and establish you as a talented and well respected professional.

9. Evaluate & Recognize Your Financial Standing

During this career and life transition, be sure to check and come to terms with your financial status in order to remain as secure as possible for you and/or your family. Understand and take a successful approach in providing financial security for you and your family. Identify how this job transition will affect your current retirement plan, 401(k) and IRA plans. In addition, ensure your insurance plans will cover you and your family throughout this tough time.

In general, and on a broad level, be sure to approach this job change/transition with dignity, hope, excitement, and a positive attitude. This will allow you to explore and embrace future endeavors essential to your career success.

Remember that this process is a significant aspect of your career progression within the current job market. So identifying and utilizing a successful approach in ending your job in order to begin your next will positively affect your career. It’s up to you! Good luck!

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of senior and former military personnel, decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon, CEO, 866-883-4200, Ext. 200 or connect with us on LinkedIn at