Our Blog

BY Brock Dudley

What are your biggest military transition obstacles?

Hello everyone, and welcome back! I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend and you were able to spend time with family and friends, reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day, and partake in the freedoms and activities we enjoy that honor the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. While I have made the transition out of the military, I look back on the military, all the men and women who are still in, and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice with a sincere gratitude for their service and sacrifice. It’s never lost upon me the little freedoms we have in life. I am even thankful I live in a world and a country where I can write as freely as I am right now, all in hopes of helping others reach their personal and professional goals.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog posing the question: Am I a development candidate? Why?

I’m back to pose the third question in my four-question series that will hopefully help junior military officers gain more clarity on their transition out of the military. Question one was designed to help a junior military officer think about their personal and professional goals and question two was designed to help one navigate which route to go as they consider the transition out.

My plan today is to shed some light on the similarities between military planning and transition planning and introduce a few obstacles that a junior military officer should consider and may encounter when making the transition. Of course, every junior military officer has a different situation, so this isn’t a one size fits all post.

Military planning

Like any major decision that is made in one’s life, it’s important to understand some of the risks, and to mitigate those risks.

Why is planning so important in the military, and what does it have in common with planning a military-to-business transition?

Well, military operations often involve high stakes, including the safety of personnel, achieving strategic objectives, and minimizing collateral damage. Effective planning helps ensure that missions are well thought out, with clear objectives, strategies, and contingencies in place to adapt to changing circumstances.

They also involve significant resources, including personnel, equipment, and time. Planning helps optimize the allocation of these resources to achieve the mission’s objectives efficiently and effectively. Military operations inherently involve risks, including enemy resistance, environmental factors, and logistical challenges. Planning helps identify potential risks and develop mitigation strategies, reducing the likelihood of mission failure or casualties.

Despite careful planning, military operations can still encounter unexpected obstacles or developments. A well-designed plan includes contingencies and flexibility, allowing commanders to adapt to changing circumstances while still working towards the mission’s objectives. Overall, planning is essential in the military because it provides a structured framework for decision-making, resource allocation, and execution, ultimately increasing the likelihood of mission success and minimizing risks to personnel and resources. Military planning is no different than transition planning.

I even italicized some words that I felt apply to the military to business transition.

Transition planning

There are many parallels between planning a military mission and planning a transition to the business world. Cameron-Brooks understands the challenges and uncertainties that junior military officers face when transitioning into civilian careers. We’ve been there ourselves and we know what it’s like to navigate the search process and find companies that value your background and experience.

Cameron-Brooks has been around since the early 70s and with over 50 years of longstanding and growing relations with our client companies in Corporate America. With over 80 years of experience between our four former military officers and principals within the company, to include our CEO and SVP, we are experienced in helping junior military officers successfully navigating the transition.

For the same reasons military planning is so important, transition planning is so important. It’s important to have a plan, identify the obstacles and potential risks, and establish plans that help mitigate those risks. One blog post will not provide one with all the answers and develop a foolproof plan, but my goal is to introduce some of those risks and the obstacles that might have to be overcome so they’re on your radar.

So let’s dive into your biggest military transition obstacles

Potential obstacles to overcome

  1. Junior military officers make up 1% of the working population.

    99% of the advice a junior officer receives on how to transition, how to interview and effectively communicate and interview isn’t designed for them. There’s a lot of noise out there. SkillBridge, Transition assistance programs, family, friends in the military, LinkedIn posts, friends who have made the transition already, etc. The most common approach I saw when I was in the military was people trying to do the same thing a shipmate or peer of theirs in the military did. “It worked for them, so why not me?” Well, everyone’s situation is different and doing what someone else did does not equal transition success. There are too many factors and variables in the transition equations.

In addition to this, the corporate hiring process isn’t necessarily designed for a junior military officer because not every company in corporate America goes right to hiring a junior military officer. This is logical as a JMO’s background is non-traditional. Majority of companies will look for someone with industry experience first. Not every company knows what to do with the JMO background. Just because a company has a veteran recruiting program or a rotational program, doesn’t mean it is right for you. One of the biggest missteps in the transition is jumping into a role right out of the military because you need a job, a paycheck and it fits with one’s desired location preference. Often, this can lead to underemployment and even taking a step back. This can make it harder and take one longer to rise up in leadership and responsibilities within that company. Cameron-Brooks can help a junior officer navigate the noise and build a game plan that avoids the missteps. If you want to know more about the most common missteps, give me a call below.

  1. Lining up timing with quality positions can be one of the hardest things to navigate in the transition.

    The military is the only organization that I know of where you have to submit your resignation 9-12 months before you part ways with them, and still continue to work for them for those final 9-12 months. This is a challenge because it’s hard to do a serious career search until you are 4-5 months out of the military. Companies want to hire you for the open positions and start work as soon as possible, and you can’t start work until you are on Terminal leave. This can lead to anxiety and pressure as your separation date nears. At Cameron-Brooks, we work with officers on their timing and tailor their interview and career transition preparation to align with their OPTEMO and separation date so they can attend one of our five career conferences a year.

  2. Getting past the filters is a challenge.

    With the implementation of AI, it has introduced new challenges for officers navigating the transition. Many companies now use AI-powered applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen and filter resumes. These systems are programmed to scan resumes for specific keywords, skills, and qualifications relevant to the job description. Resumes that do not match the criteria set by the ATS may be automatically filtered out regardless of the candidate’s actual qualifications or potential. Companies average 250 applications for every open position and 98% of these get rejected for many reasons (Highly desirable positions at highly desirable companies can see more than 250 applications), but the main one is that a junior military officer doesn’t meet the experience required for the position.

While AI algorithms are proficient at processing and analyzing structured data (such as text in resumes), they may struggle with nuanced or contextual information. Resumes that contain unconventional career paths, diverse skill sets, or non-traditional experiences like the junior military officer may be misunderstood or undervalued by AI systems, leading to their exclusion from consideration. At Cameron-Brooks, we help junior military officers navigate the filters and go straight to the decision-makers and hiring managers.

  1. Balancing the extrinsic and intrinsic factors is a challenge.

    When we talk to an Officer who is considering making a military-to-business transition, we ask them what some of their personal and professional goals are. Things like: A fulfilling career; a career with meaning; impact; growth; more predictability in my schedule; working for a great company that values my skills; a company who is doing meaningful work that has a purpose and that aligns with my values are some of the most common things we hear. That’s good, and that also makes us excited because we know we are talking to future leaders in business. We also know that certain factors like location, salary, and work-life balance are important. At Cameron-Brooks, we act as a guide to help junior military officers navigate these competing factors and build a plan that will help an officer successfully transition and find personal and professional satisfaction.

  2. External factors like the economy can be a challenge. These are uncontrollable factors.

    You can’t control interest rates, high inflation, what companies are hiring, where they are hiring, when they are hiring, start dates that align with your terminal leave start date. Additionally, preparing in today’s economy can be challenging because the bar is high. Companies are selective and want candidates who have not just one skillset or experience, but a variety of skill sets and experiences. In the world of profitability, every company is adapting, changing, and improving operations, processes, and products. The experience(s) required to fill these roles is becoming more complex as well. Cameron-Brooks can help an officer be prepared to competitively interview and navigate the transition regardless of the economy we are in.

So, what’s up next?

We are two weeks away from our June 2024 Career Conference. Now that I’ve covered your biggest military transition obstacles, I’ll be taking a quick break in my four-part series to work on our pre and post-conference blogs. I’ll shed light on the types of roles and industries represented at the June 2024 Career Conference and talk about lessons learned from officers making the transition.

On July 9th, I’ll be back with Question 4 in my four-part series:

What is your plan and who is your guide?

If you want to talk about your transition options, or you’re curious about how Cameron-Brooks can help, don’t hesitate to reach out below. I’ll get you scheduled for a personal consultation.

I’ll also put a plug out for our most recent podcast here. Listen to three officers who came to our April 2024 Career Conference and learn more about their military backgrounds and where they decided to launch their business careers.


Brock Dudley

Principal, Transition Coach


Cameron-Brooks Website

YouTube Channel