Knowing What We Know Now
How the Leading Voices in Veteran Recruiting and Transitions Would Conduct a Military ETS in Today’s Environment
We as a group are frequently asked by Veterans the following question:
“Knowing what you do now, what would you recommend if you were about to launch your transition from the military?”
In a first of its kind partnership, Veteran Recruiting experts from Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle, in conjunction with Veterati, Victory Media and LinkedIn, have come together to create a product that documents how we would transition from today’s United States Armed Forces.
The struggle for Veterans leaving the military is real and while there are loads of resources out there, not all of them are as well-known as they should be. This whitepaper, in addition to the comments section of this article, is meant to serve as a one-stop-shop for Veterans who are about to launch their transition.
Every Veteran who leaves the military struggles in some form or fashion. Sometimes that struggle is a shock from starting in a new workplace/culture. Other times it is dealing with moving across the country (or world) or even adjusting to a new, and perhaps lower, paycheck. Tons more struggle in linking their military service to corporate terms and then filling in the gaps that may be left from that translation.
In addition to those struggles, almost every Veteran struggles with finding satisfying and meaningful employment after they leave the military. Transitioning from the military cannot be done passively; your transition MUST be a deliberate and aggressive action.
Because every Veteran is different, there is no “silver bullet” guide on how to transition that can apply to each member of the military. With that being said, Colby, Matt, Josh, Diana, Ian and I are all in agreement on the following time-line and actions:
24 Months Out: Start to identify what lines of business you would like to transition into. Once you’ve obtained that knowledge, start utilizing the numerous services out there to further your education, network and skillsets.
Research is the key to any organized job search, and the flexibility you have 24 months out allows for you to spend good time figuring out what you want to do, where you should go, and what jobs to look for. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics is a great place to start.
While looking at different industries, it is important to look at the large companies, fast-growing companies, and market leaders in each industry so you begin to see who are the best companies to work for. Retail and finance are great industries for veterans, for example, but different sectors and different companies within those industries will offer different opportunities, growth, and salaries and benefits.
Military Friendly® Employers
Military Friendly® is focused on helping veterans access the top Military Friendly® Employers and Military Friendly® Schools for transitioning military members. The list distinguishes elite companies who boast the strongest job opportunities, hiring practices and retention programs for transitioning service members and spouses seeking civilian employment.
Top 25 Hot Jobs for Veterans
To create the list, GI Jobs asked the 2016 Military Friendly® Employers –all 228 of them! – to identify the top jobs for which they are recruiting America’s veterans. For each job, you’ll find a job summary, the median annual salary, projections for job growth, similar job titles, and education/training requirements.
Hot Jobs for Veterans: http://www.gijobs.com/hotjobs
MOS is not destiny – if you want to change your career path from what you did in the military, you need to look at what you need to do to set yourself up in your new career. Do you need a degree? Certifications? Hands-on training? Industry experience? Plan and budget to get the education and training you need to make your transition as easy as possible.
If you are interested in returning or going to school to further your education, the folks at Military Times have recently released their “Best For Vets” Rankings of the Top 175 schools in the United States for Veteran Students. Those schools, as well as numerous other rankings, are listed here:
Greg Call, Daniel Savage and the team at LinkedIn do fantastic work when it comes to furthering the education and opportunities for Veterans. In addition to reaching out and following Greg and Dan, start taking the Lynda.com courses that are available for free to Veterans. Further, upgrade your LinkedIn Profile to Premium which is a free feature for military members.
Career Skills Programs (Army) and Skill Bridge Programs (Navy and Marine Corps) offer great training programs for service members within six month of their ETS in many different industries. Check with your transition office to see what the eligibility requirements are and how your personal ETS calendar syncs with these programs.
The CCFIT Quiz uses the skill and knowledge requirements of top jobs sought by the Military Friendly® Employers. There are eight different job groupings or clusters of jobs that require similar sets of skills and knowledge. Since employers within a given industry tend to focus on similar hiring requirements and positions; and since they also tend to show preferential hiring toward individuals with relevant industry experience, you’ll notice an alignment of these job clusters with their closest industry match. The result is a simple assessment that helps pull people toward job groups and industries that best align with their interests and career goals. Take the free quiz here: http://www.gijobs.com/civilian-career-fitness/
Where do you want to go in the industry?
Whether you are staying in your military career field or switching to a new occupation, look at the industries that employ people in your career path to research growth and employment opportunities. With over 500,000 open positions nationwide, IT professionals can stay within the IT industry, but they are also needed in almost every other industry, such as finance, banking, retail, insurance, manufacturing, etc. Logisticians, Operations Managers, Finance and HR professionals, and salespeople are needed in all industries.
What to look for in an industry? Growth. A growing industry, with jobs continuing to be added quarter after quarter, is the best place to start with more opportunities for entry-level and mid-level managers and professionals. Check out the BLS Career Outlook page to begin.
Syracuse offers a terrific PMP Program for Veterans as well as Onward2Opportunity. Onward to Opportunity (O2O) is partnering with military-friendly companies to provide easier and more effective access to service members and military spouses earlier in their transition from the military into civilian life. O2O also partners with the SANS VetSuccess Academy in San Antonio, TX aimed at provided transitioning Veterans the skillsets, technical training, certifications and connections for jobs in the cybersecurity community.
Interested in entrepreneurship?
Start reading up! The steepest curve is learning the language for entrepreneurs. Start with award-winning ‘Evolution of an Entrepreneur’ by Jack Nadel:
Then start to look into programs. Here are a few that help Veterans break into the startup ecosystem or learn to build a company:
Patriot Boot Camp: www.patriotbootcamp.org
GrowthX Academy: https://gxacademy.com/veterans/ (sales, marketing, or UX/UI design training).
Interested in franchising? Read up on the 2016 top 15 franchises for veterans.
-Tons of Veterans who have worked with these organizations have made themselves readily available to talk through the Veterati platform if you would like to learn more about their experiences.
24 Months Out: What do CEOs and Olympic athletes have in common? They have coaches and mentors to get them to peak performance! If you’re not sure what industry you’d like to transition to, or would love to speak with someone who is at a company you’re interested in, reach out to mentors at Veterati.com. Veterati mentors are well-networked, successful professionals in a broad range of industries and can give valuable intel into the current job market. About 2/3rds of Veterati’s mentors are Veterans, 13% are senior executives, and 22% work at Fortune500 companies. The Veterati platform allows you to select your own mentors (unlimited!), explore different career paths, and build your own Cabinet of Advisors to support your transition. Veterati is free for Veterans, Military Spouses, and Active Duty Service Members.
Access mentors now: http://www.veterati.com/
12 months out: Do a quick search for homes/apartments etc. in the geographic part of the country you are looking to relocate to. Home prices fluctuate depending on the time of year and searching a year early, but during the same timeframe, will give you an idea of what the home values will look like and how much salary you will need to accommodate your standard of living. All of this data can be found utilizing the following link:
12 months out: Begin to finalize your resume and reach out to your on-post facility and meet with a resume coach. Your Veterati Mentors can also help you throughout this process.
Write a resume designed to be read by corporate recruiters, not a government resume. Make sure the meat of the resume is about how well you did your job, not just job descriptions of what you did on a day to day basis. Qualify and quantify all of your results – recruiters love to read about professional achievements, rankings, deployments, training achievements, inspections results, readiness ratings, early promotions, etc. Where do you get all of this great information? Your evaluations and award citations are a great place to start. And everyone under ten to twelve years of experience should keep their resume under one page in length.
Example: “Served as the Senior Logistics Officer in a 140-person Forward Support Company. Developed and streamlined a new standard operating procedure that resulted in the unit receiving the “Top Unit in FORSCOM” during the Army Award for Mechanical Excellence competition. The selection pool for this award was comprised of over 50 like-sized organizations and is given to the unit who best exemplifies excellence, efficiency, attitude and readiness for future operations.”
12 Months Out: Annotate on your LinkedIn profile your availability window and your desired geographic location for future employment.
Example: “I am a Senior Enlisted Leader and Combat Engineer within the US Army with 20 years of progressive leadership experience. I have an educational background in Computer Science and I am looking for opportunities in the Technology Sales industry. I am open to relocation to Austin, TX, Washington D.C., Seattle, WA and Boston, MA. I will be available to begin work on April 4th, 2018.”
Grow your network. Build your LinkedIn profile and have someone such as a Veterati Mentor (or Mentors) review it. Remember that your profile is a selling document, not just an online resume – ensure that you work with the experts at LinkedIn and Veterati to build the best professional online version of “you”. Then connect with everyone: peers, friends, people you know from other units, your pastor or priest, your commander who got out six months ago, your old platoon sergeant, the names at the bottom of this article and even your DI from boot camp. Connect with everyone you can because you never know who will be the link between you and your first job out of the service.
Do some research on companies in your ideal geographic region of preference that you’d like to work for and who has Veteran Recruiting Teams internal to their company. Reach out to those teams to determine what they recommend when it comes to applying at their company, including what timeline works best for that organization. Every organization is different when it comes to working with transitioning Service Members and the VRT would be the expert for each respective company.
Not every company will have a Veteran Recruiting Team. In that instance, do a quick search through the Veterati mentor database, as there may be mentors in your target companies already waiting for you to reach out for a phone call through the Veterati platform.
Further, networking is truly instrumental to finding future employment. Some studies have suggested that up to 80% of positions inside of companies are never posted on their websites. To build your network, start with asking for introductions from those you know, then reach out to mentors as they’re already prepared and willing to help you advance your network (some Veterans have 25+ Veterati mentors). Finally leverage the massive power of LinkedIn to send messages to virtually any professional in any company.
As you begin reaching out to members of your new and established network who work in the industries and companies you are interested in, ask them for 15-20 minutes of their time to learn about what they do, what they think about their industry and company, etc. Veterans never turn down a call or a cup of coffee from another Veteran and will give you the information you need. Respect their time and ensure you let them know about key points in your job search. Peter Thomson has a great roadmap on how to do this over time here.
9 months out: Start gathering all of your medical information and conducting appointments that you have been putting off for the hurt back or sore ankle you’ve been dealing with throughout your career. These records will prove vital to your VA Disability Claims process. Here is a quick walk-thru of what that process looks like:
9 months out: Reach out to third-party staffing firms such as Orion, Bradley Morris, Lucas Group, Alliance, Cameron Brooks, etc. and get on their radar. These recruiting companies work based on a “wholesale” model and frequently conduct high volume hiring initiatives for their clients. Getting on their radar and attending their transitional/informational meetings on your base will complement your new gained expertise on your future industry that has already been obtained from Veterati and the members of your network. Always ask what commitments these companies ask for up-front, if they require you to work exclusively with them, and how well they do placing military professionals with your background with their clients. If they can’t represent you well, move on to another third-party staffing firm.
Bradley Morris: https://www.bradley-morris.com/
Lucas Group: http://www.lucasgroup.com/
Cameron Brooks: http://www.cameron-brooks.com/
6 months out: Partner with a Veteran Advocate and determine what the ideal submission window is for your VA Claims. Certain regions of the country are faster or slower than others; your Veteran Advocate will have full knowledge of that region’s processing route and can suggest how and when to go about submitting your claims. The following link can point you towards Veteran Advocates in your geographic location:
6 Months Out: Finalize your preferences and restrictions for your search. Where will you move? What areas of the country are off-limits? What is your salary range? What benefits are important to you? Is travel a deal-breaker? Do you have to be near family? Do you want to be on the other side of the country from family? If you are married, ensure your spouse is in agreement with you before you set foot in an interview.
Research corporate benefits packages such as health benefits, HSAs, FSAs, bonuses, life insurance, 401K programs and their percentage match, etc. This will put you in the driver’s seat to compare apples to apples when you start interviewing and receiving offers.
6 months out: Start attending military specific career fairs put on by Hiring Our Heroes, Recruit Military, Military MOJO, Hire Heroes, Service Academy Career Conference, etc. Think of hiring fairs as live training grounds to practice your personal pitch, talk to many employers and establish culture-fit, and discover companies and opportunities that you may have overlooked. The locations for career fairs can be found at the following websites:
Hiring Our Heroes: https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/hiring-our-heroes
Recruit Military: https://recruitmilitary.com/
Military MOJO: https://militarymojo.org/
Hire Heroes: https://www.hireheroesusa.org/
6 Months Out: Finalize your resume and references list. Keep them as two separate documents.
Practice interviewing – you must learn to interview well in order to make a great impression on corporate recruiters and stand out from the crowd. 15-20 hours of interview practice alone and with others is necessary to be able to navigate the interview process and be ready for individual, panel, and behavioral interviews. Practice, practice, practice. Given that you can access unlimited mentors through Veterati, you can set up mock interviews with various mentors from various backgrounds. Ask for their feedback on how you interviewed and then compile all of that information, do some personal analysis, and find the best way to present yourself, your background and your skillset.
If you have any suggestions that you feel we may have missed, PLEASE do not hesitate to provide more useful links in the comments section! Best of luck to all of the Veterans who have read this and do not hesitate to reach out to us!
-Max Lujan, Veteran Recruiting Program Manager, Oracle
-Josh Shaffer, Veteran Recruiting Program Manager, Oracle
-Matt Brogdon, Military Base Engagement Manager, Microsoft
-Colby Williamson, Military Recruiting Manager, Amazon
-Diana Tsai, Chief Executive Officer, Veterati
-Ian Faison, Strategic Business Development, Victory Media