After your military service, are you hoping to find a job that is outside the defense industry or government? Do you want to break free from your military self and do something new?
That can be a tough one for veterans and spouses on the job hunt. You are going to need a network strong enough to leap over corporate reluctance in a single bound.
So, bud, who do you know in Corporate America? Who can open a door for you?
Nobody? Then you are pretty normal. This is why most of us give up dreams of working for Disney or Nike or ESPN. Our networks are like every new veteran's network -- forged in the military and honed in defense. Our current personal network can't support the leap across the chasm into your dream job in non-defense Corporate America.
Did you know your network is not complete yet? There are at least three ways to get that break into civilian companies, even when you do not know a soul (yet).
1. A Matched Mentor Through American Corporate Partners
American Corporate Partners has a deep pool of 4,000 new mentors in the civilian world who want to work with you. "It's gratitude in action," Leslie Coffey, vice president of military engagement for ACP, said in a recent phone interview. "It is doing more than saying, 'Thank you for your service.'"
More than 80% of ACP mentors are in non-defense related-occupations, including the most in-demand fields like cyber, information technology (IT), operations management and human resources (HR). They work for more than 1,100 large brands, such as Nike, Disney, General Motors, FedEx, Adobe, Johnson & Johnson, ESPN and Major League Baseball. (ACP also has partners strongly related to defense and government.)
What I like about this program is that they handpick a mentor to work with you one-on-one for a whole year. This is great for introverts because you are not cold-calling a lot of unwilling strangers. Mentors self-identify as being willing to help you, and a relationship develops. Less than 20% of those who start the program drop out over the course of a year.
These mentors are especially helpful when it comes to focusing your search in their industry, including helping you figure out what job title you qualify for at their company. They can also help you tailor your resume for their exact industry, answer your questions and lead you to the connections you need to get hired.
Once hired, veterans and spouses tend to stay. Of those who find work through their ACP mentorship, 85% are still in their first job a year after transition. "It's really about landing well and thriving, so you don't have to transition twice," Coffey said.
2. Go for an Internship
An internship sounds like something that happens only to people who are 22 years old and fresh out of college. Not so. An internship through the Department of Defense SkillBridge program is an invitation into the companies who want you most. Interns include those from every branch and every rank, including O-5s and O-6s.
One I like is the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program. It brings together veterans and spouses with hundreds of the employers you want most outside the defense industry, like Deloitte, Proctor and Gamble, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb.
While working as an intern with a host company, you make all the inside connections you need to land the right job.. Hiring Our Heroes has a 93% placement rate among their corporate fellows.
3. Open the Military Door
I've written before about applying only to companies that have what we call "a military door" -- a veteran or spouse employment program complete with a dedicated veteran hiring team. Those veteran recruiters can be the strongest part of your network.
To make it easy for you, we even have a list of the 25 top companies with a military door open wide for you.
Trying to get a non-defense job is nearly impossible without a strong network. Mentor programs, internships and veteran hiring teams offer you an easy introduction to the companies who want you most.
Jacey Eckhart is Military.com's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website SeniorMilitaryTransition.com. Reach her at Jacey.Eckhart@Monster.com.
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Transitioning military, veterans and spouses may be qualified for the job, but they are missing the secrets of civilian hiring. Find out everything you need to know with our FREE master class series, including our next class You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.