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How can I build my network in Aerospace/Aviation?


Robert Johns Mansfield, TX

I retired from the Army almost 4 years ago as a Major. My background was an Army Aviator, an Aviation Operations Officer (similar to project management) and an Aviation Intelligence Officer. I still have a high level security clearance due to the intel position.

Upon my retirement, I began working at an Aerospace company in the DFW, TX area, first as a Business Development Manager, then I was given the added responsibility of Project Manager (as well as Facility Security Officer and Export Compliance). I enjoyed my time in this position but I decided to leave once a new CEO came aboard at the end of 2018/beginning 2019. Let's just say I had some real ethical and moral challenges with this new CEO's leadership. I was at this organization for almost 3 years and progressively "climbed the ladder."

I enrolled in a Project Management Profession (PMP) course in March and began the actual program in May and anticipate certification within the next month. I've sent my resume off to multiple sources to get their critiques and recommendations and I believe it is a fairly well written resume at this point (at least in my opinion). I've attended job fairs and I am also enrolled in 3 Officer headhunting organizations.

Unfortunately, in most cases, I am not getting through the front door. I have applied for at least 100 jobs (mostly in Aerospace) but haven't received much interest. One mentor source of mine suggested it was because of my lack of a network. This may be true since most of my network is military people. I know very few people in the private/civilian sector.

My question is, how do I leverage my aviation background and skills to continue to serve within an industry that I am passionate about? Or, since it has been 6 months of unemployment, should I just move on to another industry that maybe I am not as excited about? I am open to recommendations because right now, I am not having any luck in the Texas or Colorado area.

15 July 2019 4 replies Military to Civilian Transition



Jonathan Lo Emeryville, CA

Hi Robert,

Have you created a LinkedIn profile? If not that is where I would start in terms of developing your network and leveraging it to generate leads for potential opportunities. Every civilian position that I've held were through folks within my network who've helped me get passed the filters and robots.

In addition to what ACP can offer in terms of mentorship and career training, I would also check out Fourblock, which does career development for veterans too. Both add tremendous value in my opinion.

Send me a Direct Message and I can send you a PDF of how to maximize Linkedin. I received it directly from the Veteran's group at LinkedIn who conducts this training. The tips and tricks continue to help me and I receive messages from recruiters on a weekly basis to interview for positions.




Bob McRae Hinckley, OH

You stuck by your guns because of ethics - that can serve as a strength in industries where compliance and integrity are expected. Your security clearance is valuable in private industry. Your ability to be successful in business development is a BIG strength becasue you can listen.

Try doing self-evaluation exercises to look for advantages you may have that you take for granted that others would value. The book "What Color or your Parachute" is a classic read. Make aviation experience a strength, but not your focus. Audit, inspector, quality control, security, cybercrime, investigations come to mind.


Robert Johns Mansfield, TX

Great advice, Gordon, thank you.

I actually already have my "dream sheet" built. I'll send it to you shortly.
R. Brian Johns


Gordon Stables San Diego, CA

Robert, thank you for your service.
I have been an advocate for Wounded Warriors for a few years now and my suggestions are as follows. Make a short list of Aerospace/Aviation companies in the two locations. Then drill down in Linked In as to who you might have connections in those companies. I would also search the job boards for those companies keeping in mind that every company usually has their own position description wording. I've seen "load-master" called several different descriptions at other firms. The specific company descriptions must be in your custom resume for each company. One of my Warriors had 15 different resumes for each company opportunity since his resume was OCR scanned and he hit 10 out of 10 before he landed an interview. Finally, once you have searched the firms of interest, send me an email at and I will try to locate the Veterans recruiter for you. Once that takes place you will need to send in your resume, list the position you are interested in and the Veterans Recruiter will become your Advocate. Good luck. Gordon

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