No. Military transition and career transition are not the same thing. It may sound obvious, but you wouldn't know it from the protocols used to execute what passes for military transition today. To prove my point, ask yourself this question: How do most service members define a successful transition? I would submit that it has something - if not everything - to do with landing a job. Unfortunately, military transition isn't about employment. It is about uncovering your identity from under the uniform so you can step confidently into the next chapter of your lifeRead More
I know what that feels like to look up from the bottom of the hill. I've been there.
Both times that I left the military, I approached the process of searching for a job as an insurmountable climb. It wasn't just about a job. It was about acceptance. It was about proving my worth. Any success in the military wasn't enough. I was striving to meet the standard of 'good enough' in order to get a chance to step out as a leader in the civilian world. My price of admission into that world was my resume - or so I thought. It was the symbol of my hard work, achievement, and sacrifice. Because my perspective was from the bottom looking up, I wasn't showcasing my potential. I certainly wasn't leading. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was screaming to anyone who could hear me that I was simply not good enough.Read More
We honor military service for its selfless quality, but is it really? To be sure, the military life can be a hard one. Anyone who has been to combat knows that the sacrifices are real. All that said, you volunteered. You answered the call. Hell, we all did, and given the choice, most of us would do it again. We see past the hardship and actually consider our service a privilege. It was deeper than the uniform. It wasn't just a job. It was our life. It may have been a selfless endeavor, but it satisfied an intrinsic drive to find purpose and meaning. It brought us closer to understanding our why.
In part 3 of this 5 part series, I'll explore how the deeper reason why an organization exists shapes the culture and offer some questions that might help you discover the right tribe in life beyond the military.Read More
People follow a leader because they want to - not because they have to. Leadership is a human phenomenon - not a management construct. The two indispensable characteristics of the leader follower dyad are trust and inspiration. Think about it: If someone ordered you to trust them, would you? Of course not - it doesn't work that way. Trust is something given freely to a leader. Inspiration is a feeling. Leaders move you to action. They provide the intrinsic, emotive energy for movement along a path toward an objective. Consequently, leadership is more about what's in the heart than what comes from the head.
As Part 2 of a 5 part series on finding your new tribe after military service, I'll explore how these qualities influence the culture of an organization and offer some questions that might help you discover the right tribe in life beyond the military.Read More
Disconnection from the military culture is the hardest part of transition. Likewise, connecting with a new culture in civilian society is the hardest part of reintegration. Social connection is one of our core psychological needs. According to Brene Brown, it is the reason why we are here. Culture matters. Regarding the challenge of reconnecting with society, it's called a civil-military cultural gap for a reason. So much of the urgency surrounding how to find a new job hovers around the idea of finding the right fit in a new tribe, but what does that mean? How can you assess the culture of an organization, and more importantly, how do you determine the right fit for you?
In this part 1 of 5 series, I’ll help you to better understand (1) the factors that inform the culture of an organization and (2) the strategies on how to assess whether or not a particular culture is the right fit for you.Read More
As you enter that space between the military and civilian worlds, you hear a lot of voices. When it comes to which players you might recruit to be on your team, you've got plenty of choices. There are facilitators, coaches, mentors, branding experts, recruiters, hiring managers, hiring specialists, headhunters, veteran advocates, scouts, veteran champions, employment directors, employment specialists, transition experts, transition advisors, career coaches, human resources specialists, career counselors, lions, tigers, and bears… oh my! With all of these players carrying all of these labels, how do you make sense of who's who in the transition space? More to the point, how do you know you've partnered with the right players for your transition journey?Read More
The military has its own version of the F-word. Like the other word you might be thinking of, this F-word is considered an obscenity in our culture. It represents something that is not to be tolerated. If you used this F-word to describe a fellow service member, he or she would definitely be offended. It represents what lurks underneath our persona and warrior ethic. We don't like to talk about it, but trust me, we all know it's there.
The last enemy you confront in your military journey is the one you face when you drive out the main gate for the last time. The F-word that haunts you during military transition is FEAR.Read More
I still had about nine months before retirement, so I wasn’t looking for a job per se. I was giving my pound of flesh to feed the beast we call networking. The rhetoric surrounding this process had reached a fevered pitch that surpassed hyperbole and landed firmly in hysteria. For this trip, my goal was to meet with at least 20 organizations and collect as many business cards for follow-up conversations. According to the process, those conversations would lead to other connections. After enough iterations, I hoped to finally connect with the right person for the ideal job opportunity. Unfortunately, it didn't work…Read More
Let's be honest. The reasons for hiring veterans has become . . . cliche. You've read the same article or listened to the same pitch before. The usual justifications typically involve some combination of the words leadership, teamwork, performance under pressure, integrity, accountability, adaptability . . . and the list goes on. It's time to change the dynamics of post-military employment and veteran utilization across the corporate landscape.Read More
When it comes to the value of hiring senior military leaders, we've lost the narrative. Employers, hiring managers, and recruiters try to fit someone with 20 or more years of service into a 10 or less years of service box. When we consider these leaders for positions commensurate with the level of authority and responsibility they enjoyed through the military, we retreat to the usual excuses hidden in the civil-military cultural divide. But, what if these assessments are wrong?Read More
Thank you for your service. You've had an impressive career . . . but you're not what we're looking for.
Sound familiar? I've heard that before, and if you're a senior leader, perhaps you've heard it too. Interestingly enough, I didn't hear it when I left the army as a junior captain. I remember attending only one hiring conference about three months before my separation date. From that one event, I had eleven follow-up interviews that landed six job offers! Three of the six offers had compensation packages that exceeded what I was making in the army. Finding a job as a junior officer was easy. But this was not the case when I left the army for a second time after more than 20 years of service. So why does this happen?Read More
Given the relatively low unemployment rate, veterans don't seem to have a hard time finding a job. Given the high turnover and underemployment, they do have a hard time finding that sense of fulfillment and connection in life beyond the military. Perhaps we think that when we start a new job, we can just stop being the soldier. Changing your external reality in order to change your internal state of being doesn't work. Maybe we should invert that process. Successful reintegration from the inside-out is how we discover our sense of purpose, meaning, and connection in the right job for a better story about life beyond the military.Read More
When I wore the uniform, no date on the calendar had more meaning for me than the Fourth of July. I was inspired by the courage of colonial settlers who risked everything for the hope of a better life. They founded a new nation on the belief that we were born to be free. Ordinary citizens became the first soldiers to fight for that belief. We celebrate them as heroes in the birth of our nation, and for the next 242 years, soldiers have deployed to far away lands and dangerous places to protect and defend that belief. I may no longer wear the uniform, but I still feel that sense of connection to soldiers past and present.Read More
Do you remember the first time you saw yourself as a leader? Maybe it was through sports or a similar activity from high school. Maybe you assumed a leadership role in your family or community. Perhaps it happened before you were even a teenager. You hardly noticed it because it didn’t really require you to do much of anything. You were just being yourself. Others were drawn to your energy. People were inclined to follow you. Through your leadership, you discovered a genuine passion to serve others. You believed that you could make a difference, so you did.Read More
When I went to my first career conference as a junior officer, I had 11 one-on-one interviews that resulted in 6 job offers. I crushed it! Some of the offers included starting salaries that exceeded what I was making as a captain at the time. My luck changed when I attended my second career conference as a retiring battalion commander. I didn't have any offers. I had three times the education, more than twice the leadership experience, and a resume crafted by one of the top business schools in the country, and yet I didn't have a single interview. Not one.Read More
This question - or versions of this question - represents the number one thing I am asked by military leaders in the transition process. I think am asked this question so often because I demonstrated what not to do. I am that guy - I had 8 jobs over the course of 3 years. Future veterans don't want to repeat my mistakes, but I'll have you know that I am not alone!Read More
I remember what it felt like to get that last stamp on my clearing papers. After more than two decades of service, the subtlety of that final act seemed somewhat anticlimactic, but I was finished! The day that seemed so elusive for so long had finally arrived. I was overcome with a sense of accomplishment and nostalgia. Like you, I had my fair share of difficult days, but I was grateful for the fond memories and the wonderful people I met through the military. I couldn't contain my smile as I walked proudly out of the personnel processing center for the last time.Read More
Connection. That is the reason why leaving the military is so hard. It all stems from our biological and psychological need for belonging. How powerful is our need for connection? Brene Brown, renowned author, social worker, and researcher, says "connection is why we're here, it's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and belonging is in our DNA. And so 'tribe' and 'belonging' are irreducible needs, like love." The military gives us a sense of purpose, but it also gives us the comfort and security of shared empathy that comes from connection.Read More
I have a unique perspective on military transition. I did twice. I also did it poorly, twice. The first time I left the military as a junior captain. I put my faith in a junior officer recruiting company to find the best job opportunity. By "best" I meant the option with the most prestigious title and highest paying salary. They did. Unfortunately, it was the wrong job for me, and within a year of my separation, I was miserable. To make matters worse, I was laid off when the tech bubble burst. It was a total disaster. My second transition was my retirement after 21 years of military service. Once again, I ended up in the wrong job. Once again, I was unemployed. Once again, I was miserable.Read More