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What Should a Transition Program Include? Insights from the Hire Served Military Employment Advocates Call

Each month, Military Employment Advocates gather to discuss topics related to bridging the gap between military job candidates and civilian employers. This month’s topic of discussion was Transition Programs. There is much discussion in the military community about the current program offered by the Department of Defense. In general, that discussion is around shortcomings with the current program. Rather than focus on shortcomings of the existing program, we discussed what we believe makes for a successful transition from the military to private sector employment.

Here is a short summary of the transition process we believe to be most beneficial:

Step 1: Know yourself. There are a number of resources available from Simon Sinek’s Why University to the Career Guidance Report offered at www.careerguideforvets.com. Regardless of the tool, transitioning veterans must first understand their own internal motivators, what Purpose drives them forward as they move into the private sector, and who they are at their core.

Step 2: Know your environment. This step has numerous parts that should be executed in conjunction with one another. They are:

Study the world around you. Google is the best friend of a transitioning veteran. Before writing a resume and applying to jobs, one must first research.

  • Study corporate culture and organization.
  • Study job descriptions and job titles – do more than read a job description, research what a day in the life of a person in the role you are looking at would consist of.
  • Study skills needed for the job you are looking at.
  • Study the pain points of the organization to which you are applying.
  • Study the industry you are interested in.
  • Study everything you can about those in positions you aspire to.
  • Conduct informational interviews with those in a position to help answer any additional questions you may have once you’ve conducted your research.

Consider all opportunities. Sometimes a door may open in an unexpected place. Don’t close it prematurely because it isn’t what you expected. Keep in mind that you may need to seek additional training to meet the requirements for your dream job – be willing to invest your own time and energy to get the skills you need.

Learn how to properly present yourself. This includes in-person and online interactions. The veteran must learn about personal branding and create and execute a personal branding strategy. This should run through all interactions, including job fairs and LinkedIn.

Build your network. The first step is demystifying the term “networking”. Duane France points out that veterans have been networking throughout their career, but they don’t recognize it. Every new duty station comes with the requirement to learn who on that post can procure needed supplies. That process is the same as the process of networking. Networking skills should be taught in a practical application exercise, as it is consistent with the way veterans have learned so many other skills during their military careers.

Follow up. Veterans must be taught the value of articulate, personalized, targeted follow up. This may be through a hand-written letter, through an email acknowledging a well-written article, or a strategic LinkedIn connection.

Step 3: Achieve your objective. Once the steps above have been completed, the rest will begin to fall into place as you continue to study and execute on the items in Step 2. The preparation of knowing oneself allows the individual to articulate his/her value proposition to an employer. The work of studying the role to which one is applying will ensure interviewers recognize dedication to the organization and the position to which one is applying. Practiced follow-up skills will ensure the veteran candidate stands out above others.

Jean SouthComment