October 1, 2012 08:30
Remember when you were a kid and someone asked you what you wanted to do when you grew up? Sure you do. Back then the answers were simple, Cowboy, Astronaut, Nurse, Movie Star…..whatever. Some of us got there, most didn’t. For the vast majority of us it wasn’t because we weren’t talented or hard working, it was because either the job wasn’t realistic or our ideas changed. If you have either transitioned from the military or are getting ready to, there is a very real “Good News- Bad News” scenario coming up here….. Wait for it………….. OK, here it is!
The “good news” is that you are facing the same question again and that for the most part you get to answer it anyway you want to. The “Bad News”? Well, this time if you choose Cowboy, Astronaut, or Movie Star you are probably going to starve!
For those of us who have left the military, regardless of branch, this was one of the hardest questions to answer. Even for those who knew what they wanted, they still had to decide where and for whom they wanted to work. A few thoughts on the subject: (Otherwise……. why would I Blog?)
- Be Realistic. I’m not saying don’t dream, but if you are a separating E5 and you decide you want to start your new career as CEO of General Motors, then you might as well go with “Cowboy!” However, if you are willing to start at the bottom, work hard, and learn, there may be a path for you to get pretty close, if not there. Whatever your role is as you depart, you didn’t start there and you should expect to start a little lower in your new organization too.
- Assess your talents and your “others” (I would say “weaknesses”, but that is so negative.) Accentuate your strengths and figure out how to fix the “others.” Look for educational programs that can get you what you need. They can be costly, so be very careful with an eye to what you can afford, what is their accreditation, does it meet the hoop? If you want to be a welder, you don’t need an MBA, conversely welding school won’t get you a job in Finance.
- Translate your resume’. This is so important, I’ll say it again, Translate your resume’. There is a great cartoon floating around, where a man is standing in a shirt and tie in front of a desk at attention. The man seated at the desk, reading a paper says, “Killed bad guys; 1982-2012, just a wild guess, but is this your first resume’ Mr. Clark?” There are many, many resources on the internet (which I REALLY believe is going to catch on!) that you can use to translate what your MOS or NEC or designator means in “real life”. Many companies will assist you free of charge as well, Incepture being one of them. Believe it or not, most people won’t realize that “Killed bad guys for 20 years” really means that you were a mid-level manager responsible for over XX number of people. That you planned and executed the training that ensured they were ready for the tasks that they were assigned. That you were responsible for all aspects of administration, supply, and the maintenance of all assigned equipment. Etc. Etc. ………
- Buy some clothes, look the part, don’t mix old uniform items with your new “outfits.” The new suit will look goofy with your old Corfam uniform shoes. While technically they meet the hoop of being a “black plain toe oxford suitable for wear with a gray, black or blue suit”…..everyone will know that you got close, but not close enough. And the Fashion Police will come and take you away in their dark colored van at midnight!
There is so much more on this subject that you could write a book. In fact many people, much more articulate than I, have written books on the subject. So go to the library and check out a few and see what they have inside. Quite often free advice is worth what you pay for it, so pick and choose what you see in multiple places. If a book tells you that you can interview in flip flops….find another book!
Until next time comment or follow me on twitter, at @KHCO00 (That’s KHCO zero zero)