When I was first preparing to separate from the military, I failed in my post-Marine Corps career job search.  About ten months before I was set to leave Camp Pendleton, I sent my resume to over 50 companies over a two-month period and didn’t get a single response.  I couldn’t believe it.  It went against all of the promising things I was told as a Marine from people in the business world.

–       Your proven leadership experience will be sought after by companies in the private sector!

–       You’ve commanded more Marines in Iraq than your peers have managed at this point in their career!

–       The discipline and adaptability that they instill in Marines are traits that the business world looks for when recruiting from the military!

–       You have proven your ability to handle stress, work ethic and to meet timelines – this will separate you from your civilian peers!

I couldn’t even get a straightforward “no” from a business.  It wasn’t that I didn’t put in the effort, either.  I talked to family, friends, business owners, past college professors, veterans, and everyone else I could, and asked for their advice on my resume.  I softened the language about my responsibilities and experiences from Iraq that I thought were distinguishing.  I looked for similar civilian job descriptions and characteristics in an attempt to better communicate how the last seven years built up my “project management” experience.  I refined, revised and tailored my cover letter to each particular company that I was applying for a position with.  But still nothing, and I got pissed because I never felt like I was in control of my future.

I’m not writing this series of articles because I think everyone should stop searching for jobs and just start their own company the way I did.  I’m writing it because the more time I spend in the business world the more I realize those bullet points I listed at the beginning of the post are absolutely true and veterans offer companies an incredible capability.  I hadn’t thought about the job search for a long time and it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago when I sat down with two corporate recruiters from Northwestern Mutual who were looking for help on ways to recruit Marines to join their company that I remembered the challenges I faced.

As we talked about how they go about their recruiting (information will be covered in the next article in the series) I reflected on my failed job search and realized that it wasn’t the company’s fault for not getting back to me, it was mine.  I was working hard in one area of the job search while ignoring the work that I could have been doing to have the jobs come to me. I was working hard, but not smart.

This is the introductory article in a four-part series that is designed to help Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors understand the process of corporate hiring, and how to take tangible steps to improving their position in the job hunt and make themselves a better candidate in the private sector.

The second article is where we will turn the map around and look at a job search through the eyes of a Corporate Recruiter and a Vice President of Human Resources.  Before we can take any action that will be effective, we have to first understand the situation and understand the environment that we are going to be operating in.  We do map studies before we step off on a patrol and this situation is no different.  You will see that your online personality is probably more important than you think.

The third and fourth parts of the series are set up with a detailed step-by-step approach that you can take to begin targeting the companies you want to work for.  I will bring in the CEO for a social media company that works with companies and individuals to take control of that online profile.  The reality is that the companies you want to work for are researching you the same way that you do a Google search of a restaurant’s menu and reviews before you eat there.  Have you ever gone to a restaurant with reviews saying they got food poisoning there? Me neither.  These two articles are how you can ensure they see the information that makes you stand out from the crowd.

This series is not going to tell you that you have to hire a resume writing company or to rely on a headhunter to land you a job.  If you go that route, that’s fine and there are times when it is necessary, but that is not empowering you.  Your career is important and isn’t something that you should completely outsource to others.

My goal for this series is about the steps that transitioning veterans can take so that they can be confident in the search and in control of their future.  Because I’m not a big fan of companies that don’t teach me how to do something myself, I make sure that these last two sections will help you take permanent control of your job-hunting destiny.