Retiring March 2020, to Colorado Springs Colorado and I am interested in an executive/director position in either the commercial or defense industry. I am looking for mentorship and coaching that ties my education and 20 year military career into a rewarding position within a corporation. Additionally, seek advice on positive aspects of the interview process, as well as networking avenues that are within my area. I am not opposed to travel, but am steadfast on living location.
Congrats on you upcoming retirement! I have successfully transitioned from being an Active duty Army Medic (Corpsman) into an executive entry position in Hospital Regulatory Management. I cannot speak for interviewing and acclimating to defense positions (I wanted a bit of a break); however, I can speak to some of my lessons learned for the interview and acclimation process:
o Do research on the company you are interviewing for. Go on their webpage and learn their mission, vision, values and adjust your pitch to parallel theirs. Look at their executive staff page and read the Bio's; you may be surprised to learn that at least 10% of them are prior service, use that info as the opportunity permits to build rapport.
o Research how the staff rates the business, i.e. get to know the culture... good and bad. Online ratings tend to sit on the negative side... still, very valuable information. Once hired make an concerted effort to figure out the culture and identify who are the official decision makers and who are the unofficial movers and shakers (think lance corporals and warrants).
o Leverage your military benefits in the salary negotiation process; I successfully negotiated for more pay by stating that I would not need their healthcare or community discounts program (vet services are better). Shop around - I received to executive level offers, I was able to use the offer from one as incentive for the other to bump up their pay and relocation allowance offer
o Dejargonize- I cannot stress this enough. Use their terms, asks for clarification on their abbreviations. I did this on numerous interviews and was able to turn a knowledge deficit into an advantage. The interviewer asked me how my old facility used NIMS, ... we did, we called it something else (ERT) and I explained how we executed it... the expalnation wowed the interviewer and ensured that the interviewer viewed me as a professional who took corporate programs seriously and executed them with military gusto and precision.
o Interviews - Interviews are easy compared to enlisted promotion and service boards. If they interview you, you made their shortlist. The interview is to ask you about key resume/CV items, experiences, and to get a take on your presentation and problem solving skills. Some questions are banal boilerplate exercises, i.e. "how would you settle an employee conflict", "how long you have been in your career field", "what is your 5 year plan etc..."; I noticed on the corporate level, they ask questions that usually occur between a Master Guns/1SG and CO/BC, BC and COs' etc.. e.g. "we have X concern in our organization, what are your thoughts about how to fix it", "we want to expand in X market, how would you do it?", "we have x press on x in our company, what are your thoughts". This is where your experience should shine. Take your experiences in the Military and form them into the raw details e.g. "I was leading a clinic that rendered humanitarian aide to Iraqi citizens in Baghdad, Iraq. We offered free clinic options, but had few takers. the locals just didn't trust us. I conferred with fellow leaders in my group to figure out the problem. We asked Iraqi citizens what we could do better and found them hesitant to speak with us. If was then that we noticed that the elder tribal leaders were the ones detering people from talking to us... it dawned on me... we didnt engage and obtain grassroots community support for our efforts. We changed our plans from forcing a clinic on people, to asking their village tribal elders and religious leaders what the town needed.... then, and only then did we start to make headway with accomplishing our task"
-In that story the interviewer is able to note that your are a critical thinking team playing lead from the front leader who values diversity and respects people for their official and unofficial clout.
The Army runs a corporate intern/apprentice program, if the corps has one... use it... it really helps with acclimatization to the civilian world. I have had some fellow senior NCOs use to great effect. If not let people know when you advertise yourself.
o market yourself- I have used linkedin, indeed, the VFW, reserve units, certification officials, religious leaders, and the TAPS process to craft a network. On Monster, Indeed, Zip recruiter, facebook, twitter, etc... make sure people know that you're available for distance internships. I know some troops that started the programs and learned how to use office applications and software they never really get to in the military, its a safe way to learn how civie corps work, learn a skill (adobe, lync, zoom, access, etc..), and build your resume up. One interviewer was impressed that an older gentleman was willing to learn new tech to keep up to date with trends.
o Veterans, everywhere- I did not advertise that I was recently retired. I am proud of my service, but did not want to detract from work, and admittedly after 20 years, I just wanted to feel like a "normal" citizen... that did not work. Instead I found that many people have done a military stint, where current reservist/guard, and/or were able to infer that I served from how I engage and solve problems... it is truly that little things people notice... which is not bad, as it opens the door to professional vets. Socially, and if office politics, service gives you political points. I have seen how my current leadership team uses those connections for an array of interest.
I apologize for the long response, however, I feel that you are in the appropriate window to start planning for a corporate transition and could benefit from these small, yet crucial points.
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