Military Transition Q&A: Finding the Right Fit

(U.S. Army/Karen A. Iwamoto)
(U.S. Army/Karen A. Iwamoto)

Q: I'm finding that many employers do not understand how to hire veterans and, when they do, how to get the most value from a veteran employee. My current employer is more focused on "sales" and "profit" at the end of the day, whereas I am more focused on "customer service," making the individual feel valued and presenting a positive vibe. What can I do?

A: It sounds like you may have landed with an employer whose values differ from your own. In any career, it is very important to identify your key target audience -- the audience with whom you will work best. In identifying your key target audience, consider those groups, people and companies whose values align with yours. When we share a similar passion, vision and mission, we tend to work more efficiently and effectively.

This really isn't a "veteran" issue -- professionals everywhere are struggling with the issue of having a different set of values and goals from their employer. When that happens, change is inevitable.

Most professionals, including the transitioning veteran, don't pay attention to target audiences. They work with whoever comes along and try to make it a successful engagement. Instead, take the proactive approach and do your homework first. This way, you are clear about the groups, people and companies you will do your best work with, and with whom you will be happiest and most rewarded.

Here are steps to finding your key target audience. Ask yourself:

  1. Who do I work best with: Younger people or more mature people? Creative types (artists) or more analytical people (i.e., engineers)?
  2. Do I prefer to work behind a desk, or am I happier when I'm outdoors working?
  3. Does travel make me happy, or do I prefer to stay put in one area?
  4. In my past, who typically "gets my jokes," finds me interesting, shares positive feedback on my efforts and makes me feel happiest to be around? Are these professional types, military-focused groups, kids?
  5. What do I know about my target audience? What are they looking for? Do they need technical expertise, financial acumen, leadership skills?
  6. What does my target audience need to feel about me? Do they need to feel I am trustworthy, passionate, ethical? If so, how will I show that to them?

In life and in work, the quality of our interactions creates a reputation for us. If we surround ourselves with groups, people and companies that do not bring out our best, then our reputation will be based on mediocrity. Instead, when we associate with others who align with and support our values and beliefs, our reputation (and personal brand) is strengthened, making us more relevant and compelling.

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