Making the transition into the business world
Guidance to help Veterans and former military personnel leverage their skills and experience
As a member of the armed forces, making the transition from the military to the private sector may seem daunting. But by doing some pre-work, you may be able to change careers easier than you think.
Ask yourself: where should I start and how can I utilize everything I learned in the service to apply for a new job?
According to Transition Assistance Senior Manager JoAnne Fink, Deloitte Services LP and Experienced Hire Sourcing Manager Suzanne Mackiewicz, Deloitte Services LP, one of the first things you should consider doing is taking an inventory of your skills and experience. By translating what you’ve accomplished during your time in the military and putting it in business terms, you can begin to see how you can apply your experience to a new position.
For example: As a logistics manager in the U.S. Army stationed in the Middle East, you were responsible for moving huge amounts of equipment, working with not only military personnel but local citizens as you traveled through towns, while ensuring you kept the project in line with the budget.
This example calls out experience in project management, communication, human resources and diversity, budgeting, and more – which are germane and respected skills in today’s business world.
Something that may help you is carefully reviewing the job description for a role to identify what is required and then determine your accomplishments that are similar to the requirement(s) or skill(s). It may not look exactly like what’s written in the job description, but may require the same underlying skills, such as asking open ended questions or negotiation. This will also go a long way in helping you think about how you executed on a project and how to leverage that experience for a new role.
Think about the military as a business and you as a business person who served in the organization. Shifting your mindset from: “I don’t see how my military experience will ever make a difference to a position in business” to “I have highly relevant skills and valuable experience that make me a unique candidate to an organization” – can go a long way in helping you transition successfully.
The duo also say that in addition to identifying and translating skill sets and experience from military speak to business nomenclature, former military personnel should also consider focusing on telling “how” they succeeded at certain projects and activities during their time in the military. This will be very helpful during an interview.
Keep in mind that many times you are given direction in the military but not explicit instructions on how to get it done. This is similar to the business environment where you have something to accomplish, but nothing prescriptive to tell you exactly how to complete your task. Also, if you can, it’s good to be able to clearly explain the outcome as a result of your accomplishment.
For example: Let’s take our logistics manager example from above. Perhaps the project that involved moving large amounts of equipment, you not only accomplished the task flawlessly, but managed to save the unit $50,000 as well.
Lastly, Fink and Mackiewicz emphasize that veterans and former military personnel should consider reaching out and learning more about someone who made the transition to get insights and tips for how they approached this career change. Tapping a few professionals may help give you the confidence and inspiration needed to jump start this new phase of your career. Also consider leveraging any one of the business social networks that are growing in popularity among Veteran’s and business professionals.