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BY Cameron-Brooks

Why JMOs Should Think Carefully About Location vs Job Opportunity

The desire to choose one’s location is one of the top reasons junior military officers (JMOs) transition from the military.  This makes sense as I often hear officers tell me, “I ended up with this assignment, even though it was my 10th choice!”  I also hear, “My spouse has been following me around for the last 5 years and now it is time go where he/she wants to go.” 

Since the military allows JMOs to have location preferences but rarely gives them a choice, JMOs weigh location heavily in their transition decisions.  This includes potentially narrowing their career search to a specific city/state or prioritizing location above the quality of the position and company.  I understand how natural this thought process is, but I caution ambitious JMOs in narrowing on location early in a career search before fully evaluating an opportunity or even accepting a position with a company based on location.  To illustrate why, I want to share a recent email I received from a Cameron-Brooks Alumnus.  I removed his name and company name for compliance with his company.  He is a USMA graduate with an engineering degree, former Army Infantry that made the transition in 2003.

“Joel, I saw the post on your talk about location and quality companies.  So relevant at any level of the organization and has been a huge factor in my career. Absolutely a situation I have faced multiple times and once again last year.  Last year, I was recruited to a company to run a new high growth business.  As part of this we had to move from California to Florida.  Florida is by far the last place in the country my wife and I wanted to move. However, it was such a great opportunity with a great company.  I turned the role down multiple times over 6 months but they kept coming back and I finally took the position.

Since being in the position, I turned around a section of the business and integrated two acquisitions.   I delivered results and gained even more credibility with the organization and now we will be moving back to CA, our prime location!  Not only are moving back to our ideal location, but I will have expanded responsibilities and will be a part of the corporate leadership development program for high potential executives.

Keeping people focused on the long game strategically vs. the tactical short term is the key in this situation. My recommendation to folks I mentor is to make sure that their professional career map is matched up and aligned w/ a family plan.  The location decision is one JMOs will cross not once but multiple times in their career.  Thanks for continuing to do what you do for the JMOs and our Alumni network!”

This Alum’s story is not atypical, it is the norm.  This Alum took the assignment to Florida because he considered all of the factors and not just the location.  Now he is being rewarded with a promotion, his ideal location and a leadership development program.  What if his decision-making model and criteria stated, “I will not consider any opportunities in Florida,”?  Or, even more restrictive, “I will not leave California,”?  He would have missed out on the opportunity.  He made a short term sacrifice to trade off location for the opportunity, and he and his family are reaping the rewards.