As you look at your post-military career, you will likely feel overwhelmed by the choices, opportunities, industries and companies from which you can now choose. It will feel natural to limit your perspective on companies, as a way to manage all the choices you face. Unlike in the military, your civilian career will not follow as predictable a path, and you might find yourself making lateral moves, or even moving backward, to advance your livelihood.
Look Past the Product
A common mistake that transitioning service members make when looking at potential employers is judging the company by their lead product.
- Does Verizon do more than make cell phones?
- Does Raytheon make more than missile defense systems?
- Does Goldman Sachs do more than invest in stocks?
- Does Starbucks just sell coffee?
Of course, they do. Each of these companies, like other businesses, has many layers of career opportunities to offer.
I recently spoke to a soldier getting ready to join the civilian workforce. He was concerned about being able to stay in the community and town he loved, because there weren't many jobs available for "someone like me," he said. I asked what that meant, and he told me that his specialty was human performance and organizational management. "All we have are manufacturing companies in my town."
What Can a Company Offer You?
I asked him to name a company in his area. He picked one. Then we looked on the company website and found all of these teams and departments inside that one company:
- Human resources
- Supply chain
- Corporate communications
- Research and development
- Facilities management
- Real estate
- Shipping and receiving
- Information technology
- Veteran resources network
The companies you will talk to in your transition will likely meet you through one channel. Maybe you apply for a supply-chain job, or perhaps you meet the marketing director at a reception, or maybe your friend works in human resources. Instead of projecting a narrow view of the company and what they can offer, consider all the facets that make a business run and where you might fit in.
Start with Your Talents and Interests
Consider your military training, skills, talents and interests. Your career in human performance in the military might suit you well in human resources, leadership and development, branding, marketing or even sales, if you remain open-minded.
Consider Working with Veterans
Are you passionate about working with service members leaving the military? Many companies have veteran hiring initiatives (and resource groups) that could benefit from your perspective and experience. Perhaps your skills in finance or logistics, combined with your passion to serve military veterans, could make you a great candidate for an opportunity within a company learning how to hire veterans.
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