As members of the military, law enforcement officers and security providers decide to leave their industry, there are always going to be questions about how their experience relates to success in the business world. This translation of experiences isn’t always clear to a human resources manager who is comparing your resume to that of someone with years of business specific skills. Because leaving a career in the military or law enforcement for the private sector isn’t like going from a sales job in one company to a similar position in another, the job search can appear to be riskier than it really is.
A few weeks ago I was reading an article written by Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of LinkedIn, about assessing risk when it comes it comes to your career. (The article can be found here, I certainly recommend the read). In the article, one of the concepts that he talks about is the tendency for people to overestimate the risks that they face. As a Marine, I saw many people decide to extend their duty (both officers and enlisted) at the last possible moment. Many times this decision came down to a fear or a perceived lack of job prospects on the outside – so they decided to stay in.
This is one of the reasons why I continually write about law enforcement and military personnel starting their own companies or websites before they are ready to transition out. It can minimize this risk. Being an entrepreneur allows you to have something tangible that you can show hiring managers, recruiters, and future employers, and explain how you have the business experience they are looking for. A resume that blends business skills complemented by military or police service, will make you an applicant that really stands out from the crowd of job seekers.
The opposite of risk is reward. Taking the steps to reduce the risk of leaving the military allows you to be prepared to capture the opportunities that will inevitably present themselves. It isn’t about waiting for an opportunity to fall in your lap or hoping that you get lucky – that is the same as waiting for someone to give you permission to succeed. Starting a website of your own is about taking control of your career so that you are in a position to recognize opportunities as they appear.
If you’re getting ready to transition out….
Last fall, I was able to sit down with a corporate recruiter and the owner of a social media company to talk about steps veterans could take to prepare to move into another career. If you’re in that position, I’d recommend that you take a look at those articles as well.