By: Stephen Quesinberry

Any major life transition causes a complexity of emotions including fear, anguish and excitement. A military transition is no different and arguably may be more complex. You’re leaving a security blanket and leaping into the unknown. With that comes an unbelievable growth experience that requires hard work, incredible tenacity and thorough self-introspection.


 When you came out the other side, what did you learn? What did you learn about the process of the transition? What made you successful? When asking these questions to transitioned veterans, most often you’ll get the high-level responses such as: “I networked or prepared well for my interviews.” I want to take it one step further and dive deeper to provide you with 10 “secrets” or creative approaches that you often may not hear.

    1.  Begin Networking Now


I don’t care if you have six months, one year, or three years until a military transition, start networking now. Networking is far and away the best avenue to obtaining a job and yet we are not focusing enough time and energy towards it.  It’s why Veterati was created, and it’s why you should take advantage of such an incredible platform. Work on making real personal connections with other people. Dig your well before you’re thirsty.

    2.  Study groups


Having a group of like-minded people that met weekly to practice interviews and provide candid feedback was truly a rewarding experience. It makes such a huge difference in your interview skills to have peers analyzing your answers. If you don’t know anyone transitioning, ask a few of the recruiting firms. Tell them you’re looking to create a study group and ask for contact information from other transitioning service members in your area. Try to meet weekly if possible.

    3.  The Growth Mindset


It’s a way of life. There are distinct advantages for anyone with the growth mindset. It transforms your way of thinking. If asked to present a topic in front of peers and supervisors, do you see this as an opportunity to stretch yourself? Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Having a growth mindset during a transition will allow you to see opportunities that others will not.

    4.  Civilian Mentor


Extremely helpful. Get one. Believe it or not, people really want to help. Professionals get satisfaction by mentoring job seekers and especially transitioning service members. You have an army of people in the Veterati platform.  Use that to your advantage.

    5.  Be Flexible but focused


I think in my transition I was almost too flexible. During my shotgun approach, I was jumping from opportunity to opportunity instead of targeting specific companies I wanted to work for. In my opinion, that is the sweet spot for being flexible but focused. A desire for a preference can create ideas that otherwise might not have been considered. If you know what you want, go after it. Remain flexible and open to new opportunities but still stay focused, determined and persistent in achieving your goal.

    6.  Find Proven Models of Success


“To move forward in life, everyone has to learn from mistakes. The only question is whose: yours or those of the great achievers who lived before you?”

Take this to heart. Start by asking people that have made the transition before you. Understand their points of friction and what enabled success. If you start with a collective base of knowledge and experience, your own ceiling for a higher level of achievement is much greater.

     7.  Never Say No


Seek and explore each and every opportunity that presents itself.  Even if you think an interview or hiring conference is not worth attending, try it out. See for yourself. You never know.

     8.  Filter out Military Jargon


There’s no place for it in the civilian world. Use your study group and watch each other’s language.  Hold each other accountable. It can waste extraordinary amounts of time and cause unneeded confusion in an interview.

    9.  Power Reading


Read, Read, Read. Read anything you can get your hands on. There are so many great applicable books out there. I would start with Good to Great by Jim Collins; The Goal by: Eliyahu M. Goldratt; and PCS to Corporate America by Roger Cameron. Make a habit of reading. It will improve your business knowledge and increase your civilian terminology.

    10.  Connect in an Interview


The biggest mistake in an interview is not connecting with the hiring manager. Think about it. Four candidates for one position. Each one is qualified. Without knowing anything else, who gets the job?


The candidate who can clearly communicate, express accomplishments and challenges and those actions involved. Through their conversation, the job candidate is able to connect with the hiring manager by relating his experiences and aligning them to the company’s culture. Beyond his competencies, he was able to demonstrate his style and demeanor and whether they matched with those of the company.  Does it mean that one candidate was the better option for the position? Not necessarily, but that was the candidate that connected best.

Author - Stephen Quesinberry

Stephen Quesinberry is the Co-Editor in Chief of the Veterati Transition Center. Former U.S Army Artillery Officer with three years’ active duty experience, and MBA/BBA in Business/Finance. Stephen is currently in the very first CoreLogic Leader Development program cohort. For more on Stephen schedule a call on Veterati or reach out via LinkedIn!

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