Career Advice from Colonel David A. Lee, U.S. Army (ret.)
Use your military problem-solving skills to find the right job
Every job seeker, veteran or not, needs to use their strengths to aid their job search. A strength that most veterans have and take for granted is their ability to solve problems. While in the military, a veteran has learned to use a process-oriented approach for solving simple and complex problems. The three pieces of advice I have to offer correlate to this experience.
1. Develop a Plan.
Every military operation is based on a plan that begins by gathering intelligence. There are several sources you can leverage in this effort.
First, build a network of "scouts" who can provide information about a company and the opportunities they have available. Tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can help make connections with other veterans who can aid the job seeker. Google and Glassdoor.com can provide information about specific companies, while other websites can help translate military experience for development of a resume.
Second, develop one or more courses of action for how to find a new career. Like any military plan, use measurable objectives. Finally, develop a plan that includes phases and a chance to evaluate the performance of each phase/objective.
2. Execute with Passion.
Veterans should approach the job search like another day in the military. Start the day with physical training to help reduce the stress of looking for work. (Trust me, this process is stressful!) After a good workout, shower and dress appropriately for the position you seek, even if you are working from home. Keep good records; this will come in handy when it is time for an interview.
3. Continuously Evaluate Performance.
As mentioned earlier, it will be important for job seekers to evaluate the performance of their search. Find a mentor who can provide an unbiased assessment and offer ideas for improvement. Think like the military.
After each phase of an operation, leaders do a quick evaluation to determine how the plan is progressing. If after 30 to 60 days you haven't had any interviews, evaluate the plan and determine what changes may be required. After each job interview, take time to identify strengths and areas for improvement so the next interview will be even better.
If veterans use their strengths in problem solving, they will be victorious in finding a new career.
David A. Lee is a retired U.S. Army colonel who currently leads Amazon's employer brand. He has been commander of a 625-soldier multiple launch rocket system battalion, strategic planner for the Army chief of staff and a secretary of Defense corporate fellow. David shares thoughts on leadership and the hiring process on his blog, www.DavidALee.com.