This is the 3rd “Prepping for Transition” blog from U.S. Army SF LTC Gregory Reck, a GSF SkillBridge Fellow in the process of retiring from Active Duty. Read his other blogs here.
As breathing is to life, networking is to job hunting.
So, we have talked about finance and certifications as a means to attenuate the trauma of transitioning from the comforting embrace of our beloved service to the unfamiliar territory of civilian life. You are good, right?
Okay, so here is a word that you will hear endlessly, ad nauseum, and without a doubt, far too much. However, it is something that you have done, even if you don’t know that you have done it.
If I had a dollar for every time that I heard that term, I would not need a job because I would be rich. Nevertheless, it is something that you should really start doing…oh, about 20 years ago.
Don’t worry. You have. Again, you have, even if you don’t know it yet.
Do you even network, bro?
How do you network? Well, everyone has an opinion and you know what they say about opinions. However, I recommend that you spend some time reading some books on the topic. I recommend, and so does everyone else, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Never Eat Alone, and The Charisma Myth. Yes, we are all amazing public speakers and can chat up people from around the world, but can you do it and get someone to want to do something for you? Now, there is a course of action, where you don’t ask people to help you, but you ask how you can help them, but in the end, we are doing it so someone will do something for us. It may be an oblique way of doing things, very SF, but it isn’t altruism.
There is no place that you should go that you don’t have a business card. Get business cards and don’t just go with the self-printed ones. Branding is key. You want a VP position, act like one. I went with a style that I felt made me stick out, but not in a bad way. Oh, get a good pic of yourself, a professionally done one. Be in a suit or collared business shirt. Selfies are a decided no-go. Wherever you go, create an opportunity to get that card in someone else’s hand.
Everyone is a target. You never know who is going to get you a shot at an interview. For example, I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t get traction to my best friend. He said, let me have your resume, I’ll give it to my dad, he knows people. So, I got an interview because what I didn’t know was that his dad was the President and CEO of a tech company.
It’s like High School all over again.
Join as many organizations you can. I took this one to extremes and in hindsight, I bit off more than I could chew because I failed to create a good communications plan early on. That being said, you should look into The Global SOF Foundation (obviously), Your Grateful Nation, The Honor Foundation, Elite Meet, Military MOJO, Vetted, Recruit Military, the STAR program, Withyouwithme.com, Bradley-Morris, The Lucas Group, and Orion. Yes, I am sure that you just rolled your eyes at those last three, but do you have a job lined up? Every opportunity presented is an opportunity to meet someone, who knows someone, and that could lead to a job.
There are far too many social organizations to mention them all, but a few notables: The Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, The Rotary Club, your local VFW Hall or any number of veterans’ organizations. Go to some meetings and lie to new people about how awesome you are.
Don’t be a wallflower. Get out there and introduce yourself.
I love it when a plan comes together.
The reality of this is that you need to develop a plan. At first blush, the process can be overwhelming. Like you eat an elephant, you have to do this one bite at a time. I started early and it wasn’t too painful. Those last few days of your military career, you don’t want to be wondering WTF am I going to do?
Plan. Plan some more. Refine your plan. Plan some more. Execute your plan. You can set your timeline, so set it early because you definitely don’t want to be playing catch up.
I am not going to lie to you, there were days where I was so pissed, I beat my hands bloody on my heavy bag. I am not alone. I spoke to a lot of fellow vets, one of whom admitted that he had thought about killing himself.
That is a secondary effect of networking by the way: you meet fellow vets, you connect with people you haven’t seen in years. Animosities melt away, anxieties are attenuated, you see people who have weathered the storm. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
This is my last blog as a SkillBridge Fellow. I am happy to say that last week I signed an offer for a good job with a great company. I got the opportunity because I listened to people in the know, networked, looked beyond my comfort zone. The position has a great salary, full benefits, stock options, and bonuses. If I can do it, you can, too.
Good luck, my brothers and sisters. You got this!
De Oppresso Liber –always!