Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to Leverage your Military Contacts During your Transition

The career transition from being in the military to working in the civilian workforce can be challenging. Use all the tools available to you to make the transition as smooth as possible. One very valuable tool is networking. No matter the size of the base where you work, the military can be as intertwined as a small town and the opportunities for networking are abundant.

I had a situation where one of my clients – a retired Air Force veteran – worked for a company. Her husband was recruited by the same company. They have since hired two other military members they worked with previously and are still recruiting to fill more open positions. This is an example of leveraging your networking contacts at its finest! Here are some ideas to help you achieve the same success.

People you have worked for or worked with
These contacts are often the most obvious choice. Former supervisors and co-workers know your work ethic, know your skills, and are very familiar with your abilities. Keep in regular contact with all your former supervisors and as many co-workers as possible, even after they leave the military. Make sure to let them know when you are ready to make the transition. Don’t forget to touch base with your supervisors and co-workers who are still in the military. They may have contacts they know that can help you network your way into a job.

People who have worked for you
Don’t forget to talk with the people whom you have supervised when you are separating from the military. These people know your leadership style, your skills, and know first-hand what you are capable of achieving. Spread the word among your team that you are looking for a job and be clear as to the type of position you are seeking.

Military contractors you have interacted with
This opens your list of contacts considerably. I can recount many examples of military service members who separated from the military and went to work for the contracting company they used to coordinate with during their military career. You are already familiar with the company’s product, their goals, and how to interact with their customers. Leverage these contacts and the biggest change in your career might just be who signs your paychecks.

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