I retire August 2020 and I am having a tough time honing-in on how to market myself after the military. Do I focus on the leadership/management or do I focus on the analytical, resourcing, technical background. I am very broad in my experiences, but as I read job announcement I would not consider myself specialized in an area. Any advise would be appreciated. Trying to manage my expectations and at what level should I pursue in Corporate when applying for jobs.
A few things I have found after retiring in 2008 and having landed a Fortune 100 company 4 months prior to my retirement ceremony and now as a HR Director, with a recruiter working for me and the things I have experienced when considering military for positions.
The first I advise is determine your fit. I was allured by corporate america until I was in it. Do you prefer, private sector, small business, medium business, corporate america, fortune 100, 500, non-profit, government, small business owner. Do you what to be a contributor or a leader or both?
1. I was hired for my leadership and management, not any particular subject matter expertise, I went into oil and gas in the records and information management arena. Sure I had transferable skills anyone with a Bachelors and Masters, like yourself, would have.
2. You need to check the military jargon and mindset at the door, unless you are looking for defense contracting. Civilians won't connect, grant it, it is what we have known for 22 or 24 years. Don't check your professionalism, character, core beliefs and values. It is a completely different bureaucracy, military vs corporate vs small business vs non-profit vs government
3. Military, while highly respectful, courteous, professional, and more...take a step back when they begin to use old terminology, out-dated references, example, I had someone recently reference a mainframe computer in a technology company like ours. They just seem out of the mainstream. The military is often behind in the technology arena. I did weapons systems modernization and acquisition for AWACS.
4. Military are adaptable, resourceful, problem solvers, focused, able to perform in pressure situations...does some of this characterize you? If you shared a few skills you have in the military or positions you held I bet we could translate those into things you have not thought of. If you provide a few I will translate them for you.
Congratulations on your upcoming retirement. I retired from Fort Belvoir, Va, and am personally familiar with your stated apprehensions and confusion on how to market yourself.
I believe a very important question to ask your self is do you want to continue to be a leader/manager or an individual contributor to an organization. The type of position you want to pursue will greatly influence how you market yourself. If you are seeking either position; I would recommend creating resume/Cover letter packets for both.
As far as marketing yourself for the actual position; I suggest tailoring your resume to reflect the qualifications and Knowledge, Skills, Attributes (KSA's) that the organization is asking for in applicants. Bullets should reflect key accomplishments in which you used the KSAs' to accomplish goals. Specific metrics should be included in your bullets to more accurately reflect "substance".
For example; I work in healthcare. I led a team that created and implemented a credentialed certified medical assistant curriculum below projected cost and above schedule. I retooled my resume to state:
"Mentored 17 Department of Defense Educators to build the First Certified Medical Assistant training curriculum under the projected cost and on time at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital"
The bullet is solid enough to convey a leadership accomplishment; gives scope of team size and is specific to what the accomplishment is; leaves enough information out to generate interest to further discuss during a potential interview. The bullet can also be retooled to express what "under cost" is, if I felt that the prospective hiring firm is more interested in cost, than timelines or the actual certification.
I used to be an Officer Recruiter for Medical Careers in The U.S. Army. I was a Center Commander and an individual contributor in that role over a 4-year period. As an individual contributor I created and executed my own marketing and business development campaigns to recruit Physicians; Nurses; Dentist; and other medical professionals; my resume bullet was as follows:
"Pioneered Social Media marketing and business development campaigns; created engaging low cost "guerrilla" adverts that yielded 37 Medical Officers for the U.S. Army over 2 years"
The bullet shows that as an individual contributor I am open to new technology techniques; cost is important to me; I am organized, focused, and resourceful in my planning, and overall... I get good results. Depending on who or what I am applying for; I can retool the bullet to state percentage results against command missions which would make it well over 50% of the battalion mission for medical providers. I could also retool it to expand on the "business development" aspect,e.g.
"Orchestrated Strategic collaborative recruiting partnership with 3, level 1 trauma centers; Partnerships resulted in 14 qualified leads, of which 10 joined the U.S. Army"
The above bullet shows employers that are more interested in the business development aspect of a job that I can produce results that contributed over 20% to the overall mission..essentially providing 1/5th of the battalion mission through the generation of referral leads.
The skills and attributes that are on the resume should support the bullets and the summary.
I have found that as a civilian, more often than not, our military training, education, and experience far outweighs that of our civilian counterparts. A Field Grade Officer and Senior NCO have the skills needed to function and out-perform corporate counterparts. The Major skills we lack are organizational cultural knowledge and firm specific policies.
I have had a few Field Grade Officer colleagues that have since left service and work as individual contributors; they are either in positions that allow for broad autonomy or decided to go into business for themselves (mostly borne out of frustration with variable civilian work ethics and initial influence in organization).
I have also had a few of the same demographic that slid into corporate roles as; COOs'; CFOs'; and directorate/division heads. The majority of them are in their positions years later. My personal opinion is that corporate positions allow a comfortable comparable position during a stressful time. I believe they stay on with the Firms and go to others once they realized that they had less overall responsibility, more pay, more respect for their worldly view, and on average... they have better public speaking skills and confident leadership presence.
This is not to say they didn't have their own coping challenges with Corporate Employment. Which ever path you decide; you will more than likely have some difficulty in adapting to the new life. You may decide to "take a knee" and be an individual contributor and decide later that you want greater influence and control over your organization, by going corporate... that is ok. The time spent as an individual contributor can be couched as "learning to lead from the ground up", and if you decide to go from Leadership-to-"Production floor"; the time can be couched as " affecting changes from the ground up".
Whichever path you decide; Do Not Skimp out on the SFL TAP process. I have found that Fort Meyer has the most Corporate Senior Leadership Focused SFL TAP program. JBAB and Belvoir have the most production focused SFL TAP programs. I hope all the best for you, please don't hesitate to Direct Message me for any further dialogue!
Congratulations on your retirement and thank you for your service! I am currently a corporate attorney, and have worked in banking and the big 4. If you would like to send me a message I would be happy to review your resume if you would like help making the language more “corporate”. Happy to help with interview conversation as well.
Mr. Rusnack and Prieto-Rodriguez provided exceptional advice. I have a step-by-step process to help you transform your current resume into a Top 1% Resume. It includes a BEFORE and AFTER resume from a former Naval Officer who acquired a Corporate level position in a Fortune 500 Company 1 week after he submitted his application and resume. I will work with you for free to assure that your transformed resume portrays you as the blatantly obvious candidate for the position. firstname.lastname@example.org
You have a couple of great replies already but i will take a slightly different approach. Concerns you probably have at this stage, "How will know if THE company i select is right for me and How will THE company I select know we are a good fit?"
Consider to use the time you have until retirement to try to find a company or companies that will allow you to perform selected tasks in an "internship" paid or unpaid type of role, assuming it doesn't interfere with your responsibilities to the Military and is agreeable to all.
This approach solves several problems at once.
It helps you get a feel for the company culture
it helps you get a feel for the industry and if you feel like it fits
It lets the prospective company get a feel for you and you capabilities
It gives you the opportunity to kick start your new career and do something now vs. wait and just mark time
It takes any pressure off to make the right decision out of the chute without all the data
Good luck in your new adventure!
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