Do you think you are ready for your job search? It seems like the older we are, the harder it is to transition from the service. But you can teach an old dog new tricks – I’m a prime example that it can be done. You might be making some mistakes in the process, so here are a few tips if you are retiring.
Mistake #1: Thinking Your Transitional Job is in the Bag
Challenge: You and your military counterparts may be telling each other about the great job we are going to get when we leave the service. Finding the first transitional job is tough. Due to perceived responsibilities and lack of understanding, some retiring military will often work until the last month.
Solution: Start early, long before the last day. Once you retire, keep busy. Remain active by volunteering, consulting, or blogging in your field. This increases your brand and network. Many retirees get their transitional job through former colleagues. You must keep in touch with your friends and acquaintances. You also need a new network, so join a professional organization, if you have not done so already.
Mistake #2: Using an Old School Email Account?
Challenge: You have been using your .mil account for years. You may have also been using an old AOL, Netzero, Prodigy, or Yahoo email address.
Solution: You need to migrate to Google or Outlook and create a professional email address for your job hunt. If your name has already been claimed, add something that identifies your desired profession, such as KjonesAdministrator@ or Kjonesmarketing@.
Mistake #3: Your Networking and Digital Presence is at Zero
Challenge: You have been told for years that OPSEC is key. Therefore, you purposely have not developed a digital presence or brand. If you are no longer on the cutting edge of national defense, it is time to create the robust professional networking or social media profile that will get you a job.
Solution: It is time to network, connect, tweet, friend, blog and post. Almost 100% of recruiters and HR professionals surveyed state online professional networking platforms are essential resource for their recruiting. So many transitioning military confuse privacy with invisibility. You need to get a digital presence to be noticed. You never know who is in a position to assist or make the right introduction. Do not be afraid to go deep into your network to connect with old acquaintances from years ago, like college and high school classmates using social media or professional online networking tools.
Mistake #4: You Have Inflexible Salary Requirements
Challenge: As we retire, we often think we will demand a high salary within the civilian world. We find out that this is not always the case. We also find out that if you want the “big bucks”, you are probably going to have to work hard.
Solution: Throttle back on salary demands. This can be a real challenge for retirees, often finding it insulting to be offered less than they were making in the service. Try to negotiate Paid Time Off (PTO), more flextime, or other perks that can bump up your total compensation. Consider going to work for less money and later negotiate a better salary later. You can always move on if this technique does not work.
Mistake #5: You Are Overlooking Jobs
Challenge: Military retirees often rule out jobs.
Solution: We do this for various reasons. Maybe the job did not have the right title. Maybe it seems like we are poorly suited for the work or it is below our capability. Do not pass up an opportunity because you do not believe it to be a perfect fit. Do not over analyze the job and the associated description. It might be a great job; it is just not what you have been doing. The job listing is often a wish list of what capabilities the company desires to have in a new employee, but only a few the requirements are really essential. Your skill sets and experiences are transferable. Remember, a great “can do” attitude and a solidly translated work history will land the job. For more on this check out The Transitioning Military Project Manager.
Mistake #6: You Overcooked Your Resume
Challenge: Often a military retiree resume is full of jargon and lists every job since entering the service. Recruiters will often scan your resume in less than a minute.
Solution: While you may not need to limit your resume length, the longer on you go, the more unnecessary content you might be adding. It’s also important to not date yourself – just talk about the past 10 years. Tell them about your degree, but not graduation date. Recruiters will ask you if they want to know when you graduated. Whatever you do, do not tell them you are a retiree.
Recruiters are interested in results. Use bullets and while telling a story of your brand: that you cut costs by a certain 37% or improved maintenance production or training readiness by 25%.
Do not think that one resume will fit all job applications. You may need to create different resume for your different skill sets. And of course, proofread, proofread, and proofread. You don’t want to get passed over for a lack of attention to detail.
Remember to persevere and push through “the suck”!