Thursday, July 28, 2016

Making the Transition From Military to Civilian Life

In years past, the unmanned field has drawn a lot of retired military vets into its ranks. This has a lot to do with both the kind of work being done, and the fact that many unmanned contracts required some level of military involvement. Having connections within, and ability to liaison with, members of the military was considered a plus—and security clearances were certainly deemed beneficial.
In the last year, we’ve seen more of a shift away from this symbiotic relationship between the military and the unmanned and robotics industry. This is partially because there are simply less unmanned contracts within the military these days. But there are absolutely still those within the industry who covet that military experience. Which means for some vets transitioning out of the military, the unmanned and robotics field can still serve as a great new career path to pursue.
So long as you know how to make that transition happen.

Know Your Strengths
One of the biggest things I see some of my ex-military clients struggling with is how to qualify their military experience in a way that translates into civilian work. Even vets who were valued and high ranking in their fields can sometimes have difficulty putting their experience into terms that mean something to hiring managers outside the military.
For instance, telling a hiring manager you ran a multi-million dollar mission and oversaw 4,000 soldiers and contractors won’t actually translate into real-world experience—all that hiring manager is going to gather is that you have limited experience with hands-on management. Your typical commercial employer needs to know you can personally and directly inspire, motivate, and guide 15 employees… or 3. So structure your resume in a way that highlights your direct management experience, showing how your skills could translate into managing a small team. For instance, instead of saying, “Ran a multi-million dollar mission and oversaw 4,000 soldiers and contractors,” say, “Directed a team of 15 tactical specialists through the oversight of a multi-million dollar project involving over 4,000 soldiers and contactors.”
The key is in recognizing that it’s not about past job titles or rank, it’s about the skills you gained along the way. You need to be able to identify the strengths you acquired in service, and then know how to apply those to the skills required for any number of jobs outside the military.

Use Your Network
So much of finding a job these days is about networking, and there is perhaps no stronger network than the one formed between service men and women. Working with a quality recruiter can help you to get your resume in front of hiring managers, but former friends and co-workers from the military can provide invaluable references and recommendations.

Update Your Resume
The resume you used while in the military will be practically useless to you in the civilian job hunt. While the military prefers precision and detailed lists, hiring managers outside the military are far more interested in being wooed. You need to find a way to present you experience in a powerful and impactful way, so that in just a few seconds of review, the hiring manage gains an idea of who you are and what you can offer, and has been “sold” enough on your capabilities to want to bring you in for an interview.
That “selling” really is part of it, and it may be something you want to consider hiring a professional to help you to do.

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