There is one guarantee about getting into the military: Eventually, you will have to get out. Whether you are retiring, choosing to start a new career, or forced out due to sequestration, transition at some point is inevitable.
As you know, finding a job is a lot of hard work. Here are five steps to complete your battle plan for your transition.
Build Your Profile
• Resume building with an expert — Timeline: at least six months before transition. I firmly believe this is a time to bring in the “special ops team” … you need to seek professional resume services. Visit your local family-support center on board your nearest installation for resume workshop classes and help from one of their employment readiness experts. Search for a company or organization that specializes in preparing resumes for the transitioning military and veteran population. Active duty members are required to attend TAP (Transition Assistance Program) and they will help you with resume preparation; however, it is a general overview. Many military-friendly organizations that help with resume prep are free; it’s a benefit included as being a member of their organization (MOAA). Always ask the organization if you will have to pay out of pocket. Whatever you decide, just make sure you have someone who can evaluate, proofread and edit.
• Maximize LinkedIn — Timeline: at least six months from transition. Your professional profile is now just as important, if not more important, than your resume. You must have a clear photo. It does not need to be a professional head shot, but please, no sunglasses, hat, or shirt off and don’t stand 500 feet away — this is a professional site. Recruiters are now going directly to your LinkedIn profile as soon as they receive your name and/or resume. Make sure it is filled out completely before you submit your resume or give a contact your business card. Start building your LinkedIn profile now, well in advance of transition. Active-duty members and veterans can also receive a free LinkedIn upgrade services for a year. https://veterans.linkedin.com/
Get the Tools
• Professional business cards — Timeline: at least three months from transition. I’m sure you are saying, “What business card — I am not even employed yet?” Well, this is the way the networking world works, so you need a business card with your contact information. Go online to a site that prints professional business cards. Vistaprint.com has many designs; you can even select a patriotic-type card and have your name, contact phone number, your LinkedIn profile link and a personalized email address like FirstName.LastName@gmail.com. http://www.vistaprint.com
• Clothes shopping —Timeline: Three to six months out. As they say, you only get one first impression. It’s time to get rid of the suit that was created before 2012 — trust me, the gold buttons and wide lapels are a dead giveaway. You need to take the time to get fitted and invest in a new suit. Many of the men’s stores like Jos. A Bank offer military discounts and for women, you can find a great sale at Macy’s and other department stores to purchase a new suit.
Get Out There
• Hiring fairs — Timeline: Three to six months out. USAA and MilitaryOneClick have teamed up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes Program, and they provide career fairs across the country. Both USAA and MilitaryOneClick also serve on the Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Councils, working with the best companies developing strategies to hire you. Find an event near you and attend. Check The American Legion's job fair calendar for veterans. http://www.legion.org/careers/jobfairs
Your battle plan for transition is now ready. Create your resume, fill out your LinkedIn profile, purchase business cards, buy a new suit, search for hiring fairs near you and get ready to find your new career. We hope to see you out there networking!