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What is the Best Military Officer Transition Program?
When I moved from the military to Corporate America in 2003, the idea of a military officer transition program was essentially relegated to different JMOs Recruiting Firms. At the time, there were 4 or 5 companies that most of my friends and peers were talking to. Fast forward 20 years, and today, the possibilities are endless and, dare I say, a bit daunting.
Of course, a JMO always has access to his/her own personal network. Still, in my experience, most JMO networks include a handful of friends from college and some senior military officers who are still in the military or have gotten out of the military but stayed in the industry, either working directly for the government or working for a company who primarily contracts with the government. In addition, there are now many different military officer transition “programs” available to military officers, and some are more robust than others. In addition, officers have access to LinkedIn and other online jobs and recruiting forums. There is also the DoD Skillbridge, Hire Our Heroes, and a host of other great and well-intended organizations with the same goal in mind – to help veterans find a job when they leave the military. Frankly, the options seem overwhelming.
Which military officer transition program is right? Which is the best? Which, if any, should you use?
Let’s start by defining “military transition” and “program.”
I have the great fortune of working with military officers as they are planning their move from the military, and I often ask what the phrase “military transition” means to them. Most of the time, the answer consists of something related to finishing Terminal Leave and starting their first day on the job at their new company – essentially finding a job and starting work. I suppose that is one way to look at the transition, but most military officers aren’t just interested in finding a job. Yes, that is the most immediate need – to exit the military and find a means of income to support yourself and your family. That said, most military officers joined the military to lead and grow professionally. Most military officers are ambitious and have the desire to grow their careers to higher levels of leadership and responsibility. Most military officers aren’t just interested in finding a job; they are also concerned about career trajectory and professional growth.
With that in mind, another way to define a military officers transition is this: find a company that is leading in their industry or market and a role that will allow you to capitalize on the leadership experience that you have gained in the military while allowing you to gain new skills that will lead to higher levels of leadership in the future.
Think about it like this: as you leave the military, you are marketing yourself as a military officer with leadership experience with the potential to lead in Corporate America. If you have a successful military transition, in 3-5 years post-military, you should be able to market yourself as a successful business professional with an industry skillset and track record who happen to come from the military. See the difference? In the first definition of military transition, the time frame and goals were short-term; in the second, they are very much focused on the future.
The other word to define is “program.” A program can take on a multitude of different forms. They can range from a minimal time commitment to one that takes priority over other things. Some programs are free, while others charge for specific services (i.e., writing a resume.) Some programs require different levels of commitment, while others require no commitment at all. Regardless, studies show that when it comes to programs or services, people pay for convenience, accuracy, and consistency in the result. Consider everything from your most recent Door Dash order to working with your accountant during the next tax season. On the whole, consumers want convenience and accuracy.
To ensure maximum efficacy in a military officer transition, most officers want to ensure that the role that they go into is commensurate with their current level of leadership and set up for upward growth and career trajectory. Remember, a great transition is one where a few years down the road, you can say you are an experienced professional with an industry skill set and track record who happened to come from the military.
In order to do that, a military officer transition program should contain two key ingredients: a world-class preparation program and a company network that is second to none.
This may seem extremely obvious, but anytime you are facing a significant change in your life, preparation for that change is crucial. Think back to all the work you did to prepare for college or the training and leadership classes you participated in to prepare to be an officer. One of the biggest mistakes I see JMOs make is thinking that their military service is adequate preparation for a move to Corporate America. Yes, the business world values your leadership experience and track record, but managers in Corporate America typically fill their open positions with industry-experienced business professionals. When they look outside of that and consider a military officer, they want to know that the officer is adequately prepared to compete for a position in a completely new industry where the bottom line is profitability, not warfighting.
A military officer transition program should offer at least four distinct but cooperative pillars of preparation: a process to increase your business knowledge, a means to conduct robust career field research to understand how your experience relates to different roles and opportunities, extensive interview coaching, and a resume-writing process that understands how to make your resume stand out to Corporate America.
There is something to be said about the power of comparison and choice. Sometimes when the impact on the decision is low, we don’t need many options and can be overwhelmed by the number of choices (i.e., peanut butter in a grocery store.) When the ramifications of the decision are high and can have long-lasting effects, either positive or negative, more options can be better. Comparing many of the most important criteria, both intrinsic and extrinsic, when deciding on your next career will be so much more effective when given multiple options to compare. A military officer transition program should offer the opportunity to evaluate multiple open positions, often as many as 11-13, to compare everything from location and salary to company culture and the relationship you’ll form with your boss and team. The key to a strong network is the ability to simultaneously consider all open positions to compare opportunities and offers for employment.
As you are considering which military officer transition program is right for you and you value preparation and access to a network of leading companies representing open positions, Cameron-Brooks may be an attractive option for you. We have a proven track record of helping military officers transition to Corporate America for over 50 years. If this is an option you want to consider, I’d like to meet you over the phone or in person for a 30-minute, no-obligation conversation to explore your goals and plans for the future.
Cameron-Brooks is a Military-to-Business career transition specialist who partners exclusively with Junior Military Officers to launch rewarding careers in Corporate America.
We invite you to call us at 210-874-1500, check out our website, or follow us on YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. We have been helping JMOs launch successful business careers for over 50 years, and we have a wealth of resources including: