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BY Joel Junker

6 Steps to Prepare for a Career Change Due to Military Downsizing

Army Officer Separation Boards (OSBs), AF Force Shaping, VSP, military downsizing, right sizing, reduction in force, RIF, Marine Corps Career Designation – whatever you want to call it, the military is getting smaller and some military officers will involuntarily and voluntarily leave the service.  Even if you don’t think you will be affected, based on past military downsizing programs, it is wise to gather information, consider your options and prepare for a potential career change.

Here are 6 steps to take to learn more about your options and be prepared for a potential career change.  These steps are based on gathering more information.  The saying, “Knowledge is power!” is true.  The more you know, the better you can evaluate courses of action.  Don’t forget what the military has already taught you through the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP):  Gather information; Develop courses of action; Evaluate the courses of action (pro and con analysis); and, Select a course of action.  Here are several ways to build your knowledge.

1.  Evaluate your career options.  Do you want to be a leader in business?  Become a lawyer?  Coach and teach?  You can speak with people in those career fields and learn more about what they do.  If you have time, potentially even shadow someone.  At Cameron-Brooks, we have access to thousands of our Alumni who are willing to speak with JMOs about a business career.

2.  If you are interested in business, learn more about the different career options available to JMOs.  I highly recommend one of our 1-hour webcasts that discusses options in business, why Corporate America loves the JMO, how you can prepare for interviewing and specific career options available.  You can sign up for one at https://www.cameron-brooks.com/webcasts.html.

 3.  Speak to a professional recruiter and find out your marketability.  We offer a Personal Marketability Assessment for JMOs considering options in business.  During this assessment, we will ask you questions to learn more about your credentials, goals and interests and give you feedback on your marketability, the career fields for which you qualify, the salary range and benefits you can expect, and what you can do now to improve your marketability.  If you want to sign up to conduct a Personal Marketability Assessment with me or one of our other Recruiters, you can email candidates@cameron-brooks.com or sign up at https://www.cameron-brooks.com/PMA.html.

4.  Read PCS to Corporate America 4th Ed.  I know that this is biased because our founder wrote the book and I am one of the co-authors of the recent addition.  However, I feel it is the best investment of roughly $10 you can make with ZERO risk or commitment to learn what is out there.  You can learn more about the book and read the Introduction and Chapter 1 for free at https://www.cameron-brooks.com/difference_book.html.

5.  Start a quality reading program.  Read some business books to include Good to Great and Great by Choice by Jim Collins, The Goal by Eli Goldratt, Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni or any business book by Lencioni, Integrity Selling for the 21st Century by Ron Willingham, and To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink.  The back of PCS 4th Ed. has more recommendations.  I also recommend reading a business periodical like the Wall Street Journal, FORTUNE Magazine, Bloomberg Business Week, and Forbes.

6.  Look into some business-oriented certifications in Lean, Six Sigma and Project Management.  Syracuse University has Veterans Career Transition Program offering education in these areas http://vets.syr.edu/education/employment-programs/, and you can also pay for certifications through Villanova at www.villanovau.com/Certificate.  There are other options, but these are two favorite recommendations to get you started.

Fear of the unknown and fear of the economy can keep you from developing and preparing.  Don’t let them!  Take action.  The economy doesn’t look so good on the surface, but when you dig deeper the private sector is adding jobs and we have GDP growth.  Additionally, and most importantly, while the overall unemployment rate is 7%, the unemployment rate for those who are 25 years of age and older with a college degree is an astounding 3.2!!  (See for yourself at http://bls.gov/web/empsit/cpseea17.htm)


So what happens if you decide to stay in the military and/or are not selected in the reduction?  These steps will help you become a better officer and leader!  Taking these 6 steps will help you reach your goals.



Joel Junker