The U.S. military is the most effective training machine ever created, turning civilians from all walks of life into one cohesive unit that accomplishes its objectives, even in the face of great uncertainty. The idealized Spartan culture can’t compare to the efficiency with which our military system creates effective executives. This makes it all the more surprising to me the number of veterans who find their way to my doorstep looking for advice on their struggling job search and transition.
I spent three invaluable years at West Point before beginning my civilian journey which includes founding and running several companies, advising large and small organizations, and building highly effective teams. Today I am the Managing Director of the Startup Institute. Our mission is to help people transition into careers that they are passionate about by providing them with the hard and soft skills and network to succeed. We’re pleased to be partnered with RallyPoint and excited to announce our Veteran Scholarship program.
To learn more and get started in tech, check out join.startupinstitute.com/veterans
To help with the transition, here are our top three pieces of advice for veterans beginning their first civilian job search:
1. Figure out what you want to do and why.
The military career path doesn’t take much input from its primary participant. From the beginning, we’re trained to complete the job we're given with 100% intensity. Coming from military, the transition to civilian definitely has its obstacles. For instance, rarely will you see a job opening titled, “Executes with 100% intensity.” While it’s certainly an attribute that will make you successful, it isn’t the lead. The key is to figure out what job you and want and to develop a story that supports it rather than stating, “I’ll do what needs to be done.” The mental transition is a subtle switch from displaying purely results, to telling the story on how you executed tasks to achieve results. If you’re uncertain about what you want to do, use job fairs, your Veteran network and informational interviews to understand the full set of jobs you’re highly qualified for.
2. Translate your skills.
The military’s highly specific job codes and titles (often filled with acronyms) don’t help hiring managers in the civilian sector understand what you can do for them. At a minimum, translate your resume out of military jargon. Even better, get experience through internships, apprenticeships or volunteer work so that you can tell stories about how your military experience translated into your ability to be effective on the job. These proof points allow the hiring manager to understand where you’ll add value and more importantly break down concerns about your ability to meld with the corporate culture.
3. Break stereotypes.
Hollywood created a mental image of the soldier that isn’t entirely accurate but is widely held. Everyone knows we spent our days locked in hand-to-hand combat, storming buildings and blowing things up. We follow orders. We don’t mix well with civilians. We’re inflexible. The list of stereotypes goes on, but the truth is that they are not characteristic of everyone who’s been in the military and certainly not to this extreme. Demonstrating initiative and flexibility are the two most important stereotypes to break. Don’t wait to be asked, work examples of these behaviors into the stories you tell.
Startup Institute can help with all three of these points. Our 8 week full-time course helps you build the hard skills to succeed in a career in tech in the areas of web development, product and design, technical marketing, or sales and account management. Moreover, through our core curriculum, we personally coach you through the nuances of telling your story - helping you figure out what you want to do, how to translate your skills, and break through stereotypes - and ultimately, transition into a career that you’re passionate about.
For more info on the program or Veteran Scholarship, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RallyPoint is partnering with industry-leading companies and organizations like Startup Institute to empower military service members and veterans with the most relevant, exciting career opportunities.