THE ANSWER: Introducing: Rucksack to Briefcase: A civilian-side job-hunting guide
for service members and their families.”
Excerpt from the Introduction…
Who am I?
Like many of you reading this, I am a war veteran. I deployed twice and served with our sister branches, the Navy, Marines and Air Force, as well as in our reserve components.
I am also a certified human resources professional with over ten years recruiting experience, and 4½ years as an Army “foot recruiter” in the New York City Recruiting Battalion where I received numerous awards for recruiting excellence. The remainder of my experience has been in the civilian sector, which, I believe, qualifies me to offer guidance on this subject.
I am a well-seasoned military recruiter in the oil and gas industry, and served as a personnel recruiter for an international offshore drilling company reviewing thousands of resumés, conducting interviews, doing telephone screenings and hiring candidates to fill job positions around the world. Because of my military background, I am the “subject matter expert” on all things military and who handles calls and correspondence from veterans.
I understand very well the adjustment process one goes through when transitioning from the military back to the civilian sector because I have done it. I understand what you have done, what you continue to do and how valuable your contributions are because I’ve walked more than a mile in your boots down the same path, and I wanted to offer a simple, practical, step-by-step manual to help you and others through that process.
My Story, and How it Can Help You
As a veteran returning from a tour in Iraq, I was faced with the sobering reality of transitioning back into the civilian work force. Like many, I learned it can be challenging whether you’ve served six months, two years, or an entire career in the military.
I found it challenging because, quite simply, there was not a single, simple guide by someone who knew what it was like to be a service member that offered the tools necessary to make it a smooth transition given our unique reality. My fellow service members and I went through ACAP (Army Career and Alumni Program), FFSC (Fleet and Family Support Center) training, and the TAP (Transition Assistance Program) classes during which we received books and tips to make the transition happen for us. These “how to” guides did provide clear actions that needed to be taken as well as simple and concise tools to be successful. However, the ACAP briefing, for instance, was offered no less than 90 days prior to leaving the service. In other words, we had to take it while we were actually still “on mission.” Therefore, the challenge was figuring out how to balance the obligations of your unit’s mission while at the same time focusing on trying to have a smooth transition more than 90 days later. TAP, on the other hand, simply didn’t provide enough time to thoroughly prepare for a smooth transition. However, these two courses were all the preparation we had, and so, we received them with the military’s best intentions.
Rucksack to Rejection
With two deployments under my belt, a successful military career, and the ACAP and TAP trainings, I thought, at the time, it would have been an easy road to obtaining employment. However, things did not go as smoothly as I had imagined. No callbacks. No interviews. I struggled during this period trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. What did I need to do to increase my chances of being successful? I asked anyone I felt could help me. First, I was told
I needed a better resumé, so I went to a professional company to help me write one. The company requested my military information and created a four-page resumé that listed everything I ever did in the military. It was a great looking resumé…for another military deployment, that is! The resumé was not shaped in such a way to highlight my relevant civilian-side skills. Any company looking at that resumé would not understand what I brought to the table or how their bottom line could be improved by having me as a part of their team. It had too much information and was way too long. The results: still no callbacks; still no interviews. I was successfully going from rucksack to rejection!
Here’s what I learned from that experience: resumé companies are good at plugging information into a software program and, with the click of a button, they can produce a resumé you think will have companies knocking down your door to hire you. Things didn’t quite work out that way. One reason for this, I discovered, is that the people creating these resumés—more often than not—do NOT have any military experience at all! Or even if they do, they aren’t well informed about translating that military experience into what companies are really looking for.
Rucksack to Resumé, and…
Finally, after months of struggle and frustration, I was fortunate enough to run into some people—true professionals—who helped me improve my skills, tighten up my resumé and they pointed me in the right direction. The first step, once again, was getting a better resumé, but this time, based on what they taught me, and my discipline in implementing it, I started receiving calls and getting interviews, until I finally landed my first job! I had done it! I had gone from rucksack to (better) resumé, then from resumé to briefcase! Going from rucksack to briefcase was, for me, a long four-month process that stirred up the passion in me to start giving back to others who may not have been as fortunate as I was. I vowed to help others—especially my brothers and sisters in the armed forces. I knew there had to be a simpler way for our service members, or anyone else for that matter, to better prepare for and succeed in their transition and obtaining employment in the civilian sector.
Yes, like many veterans, I learned it can be difficult whether you’ve served six months, two years, or an entire career in the military. There was not a single, simple guide that gave me the tools necessary to make it a smooth transition to obtain civilian employment. So, after achieving success myself, I created this short guide to address the unique challenges service members face when going from rucksack to briefcase.
It includes insights, information and ideas for
• Adjusting your mindset for success
• Translating your military experience into civilianspeak
• Creating the perfect resume
• Networking to get working
• Interviewing for success
• Going beyond employment
• and much more!
I’m sure you’ll find it useful!
Chief Warrant Officer Raymond
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