Bill Toti is a U.S. Navy retired captain who joined the service in the 1970s. While the military transition looks a bit different today, Toti has seen countless friends and colleagues’ transition be pretty unsuccessful. Employment instability post-military is one of the biggest stress-inducing factors in a veteran’s life, contributing to serious concerns such as PTSD, failure to thrive, and can cause high turnover rates among veterans – which costs companies millions.

In his book, From CO to CEO: A Practical Guide for Transitioning from Military to Industry Leadership, Toti avoids hand-waving cliches you may hear through the military transition and instead provides nuts-and-bolts advice for veterans and the companies that want to help their military veterans succeed.

On this episode of ClearedCast, we discuss his journey and a phrase he coined “The Great Lie” and other lapses in military transition assistance programs that he learned from his own and other fellow veterans’ failures.

Toti was a submariner in the Navy (his favorite station being Pearl Harbor) but learned through his own transition that he was being mentored by officers who had not undergone the transition themselves. As military members endure stress even deciding when they should retire – which requires a lot of research and self-assessment – learning how to be successful in the civilian world should be taught in an environment with professionals that have successfully transitioned years prior.

Top tips for job interviews, compensation negotiation and goal setting

  • Learn the language and assumptions of civilian business culture.
  • Do a good social scrub when you are applying to companies.
  • Learn how to effectively network.
  • Show your interest by asking if you can talk to a few folks on the team and following up.
  • Build your inner confidence by practicing.
  • Define what is important to you in civilian life and get those questions answered.
  • Download the Security Clearance Compensation Report for salary negotiations in your market.

Do you know how to properly define goals for your future careers? Do you know what does it takes to succeed in today’s defense industry? Download Toti’s book to learn how.


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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸