Think Teamwork: Tips for Veterans Transitioning from the Military to Civilian Life
By Aaron Saari
Special to In Military Education – Military1.com
Would you ever walk off the FOB by yourself on a deployment? I hope not. But tons of veterans seem to simply jump into the civilian world without collecting intel from fellow veterans who have transitioned successfully.
Everything in the military centers around teamwork. Successful veterans carry that principle forward and build their team before they transition…or right after. Here’s why you need to reach out to accomplished veterans right now.
Most Will Respond to You
Loyalty and Selfless Service are two of the 7 Army Values. I know the other services have similar principles. Those values don’t disappear when we leave the military — they’re a cornerstone of who we are for the rest of our lives. Therefore, most of us feel a moral obligation to at least reply if we get a message from a fellow veteran. It may not be immediate and the reply might be a simple “Sorry, I can’t help right now,” but our loyalty and selflessness inspire us to at least send a response.
You’ll Learn New TTPs
That’s Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) for you non-Army types. Talking to successful veterans in your desired field will give you an idea of the tactics that have worked for them and which ones failed. If you’re thinking in military terms, this is basic prepping of the battlefield. Things to ask about:
- What do hiring managers look for specifically in that industry?
- What certifications are required and which are just nice to have?
- What does [Insert Job Title] actually entail?
- What tactics did you think would work but didn’t?
- Who else should I talk to?
You Might Just Find a Mentor
Most of us were successful in the military because we had a leader who gave us advice when we weren’t sure what to do. Having a mentor in the civilian world is just as crucial. A network of mentors is even better — collecting multiple perspectives on a problem is the kindling for innovation. But remember, successful veterans are busy people, so don’t just take their time without giving anything in return. Mentorship is a two-way street, so practice some Selfless Service yourself and find a way to add value to the people you connect with.
Where to Find Successful Veterans
You have interests, you have hobbies, you have skills. Start there and use tools like LinkedIn and Rallypoint to find vets with jobs that align with those interests/hobbies/skills. If you’re transitioning or already transitioned from the military and you’re not on these networks, you’re wrong. Very wrong.
The military doesn’t put a lot of value on networking, because the “Needs of the [Insert Service Here]” can trump any by-name request. But networking is a requirement in the civilian world. In fact, most jobs are filled not through job postings, but through personal networks. So start building your network today if you want to be successful in the future.
About the Author
Aaron Saari is a veteran and tech entrepreneur in San Francisco. He writes about military-to-civilian transition, entrepreneurship and empowering Veteran-Owned Businesses. Aaron is a former Army Engineer officer and West Point graduate who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before leaving the Army in 2012. He immediately joined a tech startup and has been working in tech in San Francisco ever since. He founded Base of Fire, where he helps businesses leverage technology to supercharge their growth. He’s particularly passionate about working with Veteran-Owned Businesses.
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