Remember the movie “Castaway” with Tom Hanks? He played a man who crashed landed on a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And he lived there for many years, alone, until one day the tide washed up a piece of metal that he used to build something that helped him get off the island. The point was that you never know what will wash in with the tide and how it could be the very thing that will save you. This has been my experience with job hunting. You never know what will happen, so be prepared to use every resource.
Everyone who has served in the military is accustomed to making things happen with limited resources on a daily basis. When I transitioned about eight months ago, my number one resource was information. I wanted to do something that I had experience with in the military. The question was how to get started. Although I did not see it coming or knew what job I would ultimately get, I was prepared to take advantage of any opportunity no matter how small to make it happen. As a young soldier, and later as an officer, accomplishing the mission with the resources I had was the standard taught to me by many outstanding leaders.
I worked with a few organizations to get my military experiences translated into an effective resume. The transition assistance programs the military provides is a great start for younger soldiers who do not have a resume and that need to get something to work with. Use them and learn how you can translate your skills to create success for the company you are applying to.
The most important resource I was able to use was my individual network. For most of us leaving the military, we already have a network of people who are or have transitioned and who work in multiple industries. I have many friends that I have served with all over the world and keep in contact with them to this day. This is the one single factor that helped me get my new job and start my new career. My network kept me informed of any job openings near me that closely related to what I did in the military. Just before my last day of terminal leave, I was told by a former colleague that their company had an opening so I applied. A few days later I was interviewed and was hired shortly after that. Yes, I had a little luck in timing. But having my information ready and available with my resume closed the deal. Stay in contact with old friends you served with and let them know when you are transitioning. Using LinkedIn is a great way to get your message out and companies like Veterati can help you sharpen your message so recruiters and future companies can see what you have done and how you can bring value to their organization.
Now, knowing what you want to do is key. You may also have to accept starting at a lower position in a new career. Having the patience to develop within the job is key. Appreciate the opportunity and use it to move up in your career. You did not become a master sergeant in a month or a captain or colonel in six months — it took years of deployments, assignments, and training. Learn as you did when you were a young soldier and show the desire that you want to succeed. This is something we as the next generations of veterans can offer to any organization.
Be prepared for changes that will happen almost daily in your job search. Most importantly, be prepared for what the tide might bring and run with it once it does.
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