ClearanceJobs recently sat down with Tremayne Williams and Liz Seamans from Frontier Technology Inc. (FTI). We chatted about how they transitioned out of the military and came to join FTI. And they also gave some tips for military members who want to make the transition.
The Path to FTI
Williams and Seaman had different but similar paths to FTI. The theme for both of them was their own personal effort that they put in and the culture of FTI as a place that recognizes and develops talent.
Wiliams has been with FTI for just over two years, and his careful preparation for his military transition was a key component in his career path. Williams explained that, “One of the first steps I took to prepare for my separation was to identify my separation date and availability date. It’s important to know these two dates because the hiring managers and recruiters may not be able to offer you a new opportunity if you’re not within a specific timeframe.”
He also paid careful attention to his resume and networking profiles, so that recruiters could find him on places like ClearanceJobs. He did the hard work of removing military lingo and making sure his accomplishments and skills could be recognized. He said, “I believe it’s important to have consistency across the board with your resume and your networking profiles. So I labeled myself as a transitioning service member on my profile and was available for opportunities. You know, this gives the recruiters and hiring managers an easy access to know that you’re ready to work and transitioning out of the military.”
Williams was quickly recognized by the hiring team at FTI, and hasn’t looked back since he started a little over two years ago as a senior recruiter.
Seamans was formerly enlisted in the Navy, but around the 10-year mark, she made the decision to transition out of the military. She also knew that the road could be bumpy, but like Williams, she took advantage of all the tools at her disposal. She said, “So, one of the first things that I did was I got really in tuned with all the different services and things that the military provided to transitioning service members – whether it was classes, workshops, opportunities to go out and do kind of mock interviews. I really got a handle on all the things that were available to me because I knew that it was going to be a very new space that I was getting into…the other thing that I really worked on was I started hitting my education piece really hard, making sure that I had all the degrees, all of my military training and that I understood how it could translate into the corporate world.”
Seamans made sure that her military experience translated to the corporate world. She even asked friends outside the military to review her resume and interview – just to make sure that everything made sense in the new space. Then, she began to explore job opportunities, using job fairs as a key tool in the process. Despite confidence and skills, Seamans remembers some person rituals she would work through to get ready to meet recruiters. At her third job fair, she met FTI employees who connected with her on her Navy experience. They began to mentor her – even before she landed a job at FTI. Seamans commented on the mentoring and advice that she received throughout the interview process with FTI, saying, “So that was a really special moment for me. And one of the moments that I knew that I really wanted to try and make it to make FTI at home because they had that kind of, you know, welcoming environment. I knew that I would find mentors and peers in the space that would be able to say, Hey, like you’re transitioning out of the military. It is challenging. Here are ways that I was successful. Here’s what I did. You know, being able to have that conversation as you transition out is so incredibly important.”
When people are willing to make connections and share knowledge, it makes a company unstoppable. And Seamans credits her four years and counting status with FTI to the fact that she had the ability to sit with other teams and learn all the different process, procedures, and skills as she navigated her way to her current role within the company. She’s currently in project management and sits in the role as their small business innovation research coordinator.
What are some key struggles in the military transition?
Williams not only made his own military transition, but he helps others out who are making their transition too. He said, “I’ve interviewed candidates for opportunities within our company, and the common denominator remains the same. You know, some of the key struggles that I typically see is service members, not having a clue on how to translate the work in the military, to the civilian talk or civilian language.” We talk a lot about translating the language, but Williams points out how challenging it can be for military members to think in terms of director or program manager instead of platoon commander or leading petty officer. You can’t rely on having a recruiter who speaks the same military language.
He continued, “So another struggle that I see with service members is not knowing how to properly interview and understand the mechanics behind all of the questions that are asked. You know, a couple of examples I can give you – some of the softball questions that I ask is tell me about yourself and what peaked your interest to apply for a role. You know, as happy I am to learn that Shakespeare is your favorite playwright and Muhammad Ali is your favorite boxer, and your pet golden retriever is your best friend in the world, that is not as exactly what I’m looking for. When asking a question like that, ‘tell me about yourself,’ I want to know professionally what you currently do, what you’ve done in previous roles and why your past and your present roles make you the best candidates for the role you’re interviewing for.”
The interview is the time to shine, and the way to do that is to do your homework on the company and the specific roles you’re applying for. Wiliams also encouraged military members to not just jump at any opportunity that knocks. Negotiate a salary that works for your needs. Asking for more money won’t lead to an offer being rescinded, and being to hasty to accept whatever comes your way can just lead to another job search sooner than anyone intended.
Seamans shed some light on some of the struggles for women as they transition out of the military. Everyone operates differently, but Seamans, she explained, “everybody has a different experience in the military, you know, male, female, where you serve, how you serve. But for me, one of the biggest things that I had to understand was that I spent a lot of my time in the military justifying some of the space that I took up and advocating for myself. And this is something that, you know, it’s not just limited to female military members. There’s a lot of ‘Hey, like, prove your value, prove your worth and your teams and things of that nature.’ But I found myself falling into patterns where I was, you know, a little bit more concerned about trying to prove my value and worth versus being open and communicating and asking for feedback on how to improve.”
While women veterans are growing in the defense and technology contracting space, Seamans remarked that sometimes there aren’t as many we’d like to see yet. However, it’s important to those people who have walked a similar path. This has helped her think through past struggles with imposter syndrome and growing in her acknowledgement of her skills and place in the national security space. And mentoring is a key way to take what we learn in our own career paths and share that experience with others.
Top tips for making the military transition
Making the military transition can be challenging, but service members can learn from other veterans. Williams and Seamans shared specific recommendations for military members about to make the transition.
Williams shared the following:
- Understand that it is a process.
- Know who you are so you can zero in on which skills to improve or highlight for a job.
- Get an idea of how others perceive you.
- Understand what you need for life after your transition and take time to figure out the different employee benefits and salaries.
- Learn to be patient in down times, as the pace of the civilian life can be different.
- Find a veteran friendly community.
- Keep moving forward. Your first opportunity after your transition won’t be your last one if you keep moving forward.
Seamans shared the following:
- Decide what your next chapter is going to look like because you have the control on what you want to do now.
- Pay attention to the different emotions because it’ okay to feel all of them.
- Give yourself the space to reflect and plan.
- Remember the importance of company culture, as it makes a major impact on how much of your personal goals you will be able to achieve.
- Communicate your thought process and emotions with others.
- For females, find other women who have made the transition, as it helps to give voice to specific thoughts and concerns you may be having.
- Ask someone to be your mentor.
FTI provides a culture of mentoring and surrounding employees so that they can achieve goals and grow their career. And they are especially great for veterans as they navigate the different world outside of the military.
SPONSORED CONTENT: This article is written on or behalf of our Sponsor.