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BY Joel Junker

Location vs. Opportunity in the Driver’s Seat

Location vs. opportunity is one of the most common discussions  we have with JMOs about transitioning. As a recruiter, I have the opportunity to travel across the country to meet and work with great officers.  In my nearly 9 years at Cameron-Brooks, this topic that has been a mainstay in my discussions with JMOs.

Location IS Important
As a former Cameron-Brooks candidate and a business person of nearly eighteen years, I have been faced with the location vs. opportunity situation many times.  I want to be clear when I say that at Cameron-Brooks, we believe location is a factor in a career search. You will not find anyone at Cameron-Brooks who would suggest otherwise. After all, as a JMO with your OPTEMPO and having little say over where you’ve been stationed in the military, it’s understandable to want more control over location. The question is not whether you have a location preference or whether it should be a factor.  The question is how will you manage location preference with regard to achieving your career goals? In recent discussions with officers, I’ve been using an analogy that I thought would be helpful to illustrate.

A Location Vs. Opportunity Analogy
You might recall those old trucks (and some new ones) with a bench seat in the front instead of two bucket seats for the driver and passenger.  Well, think of your business career as this truck.  There are a lot of factors that will go into navigating your business career – opportunity/growth, location, spouse’s career, compensation, children, quality of life, etc.   Whatever factors you deem as important will occupy a spot in that bench seat in your truck (career).   But, the most important part is recognizing that only ONE of those factors gets to drive at a time — location vs. opportunity.

You’re a JMO considering making an industry shift away from the government/National Defense industry into Corporate America. This means you’re making a more complicated transition than simply moving into a DoD role, GS position, etc.  With this more challenging and complicated transition, Cameron-Brooks advocates for allowing the opportunity  to drive initially. (Opportunity =quality of company, position, growth potential, etc.) Then you use factors like location as “tie breakers” between equally good opportunities.  And, as you gain experience and become a business professional, the other factors in the bench seat can/may eventually occupy that driver’s position and lead your career.

I’ll give you an example of location vs. opportunity for me at this stage of my professional career and life. If I were to make a change, location would be the top priority for the first time in my business career.  Why?  I have a senior in high school and I want him to finish out his high school career with his friends.  As a result, I would be focused on finding an opportunity in my local area.

For others, you may find that as you navigate your business career other factors come into play. Your spouse’s career may lead or compensation may become the most important factor based on your situation.  All of these are important considerations. However, as you initially launch your business career, allowing “opportunity” to drive will enable you to firmly establish a strong career foundation.  From there, location, compensation, etc. can then become stronger factors as your career progresses.

Additionally, my colleague, Joel Junker, recently posted a really informative and helpful YouTube video further discussing location vs. opportunity  that I believe would be helpful for any JMO considering a transition to Corporate America.  You can find that link here.