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Work Life after the Military

In total I have spent more than a year in Iraq, at least two years in training doing pre-deployment training, and recently have returned from a “WESTPAC” tour while serving aboard the USS Boxer. Our government has spent tens of thousands of dollars training me to adapt and overcome, find creative solutions, and accomplish tasks that are “above my pay-grade”. Yet finding a job that will allow me to develop to my full potential has become treacherous.

My name is Joshua Fulmer, and I am a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, a small business owner, and a transitioning veteran.

There are a few categories of people who I expect to read this content:

Business Owners / Hiring Managers: Please take this article for what it is meant to be, an acknowledgment of the difficulties veterans can face while transitioning to the civilian work sector. This isn’t a complaint. I do not want you to feel sorry for myself or any other veteran but am simply addressing problems others might face and solutions I have found. That is the goal of this post.

Transitioning Military Members: I’m not a certified transition specialist. I don’t work for TAMPs, but am here to share my advice on how you can better yourself for your next step in life!

Other: Maybe there is something here that can help you. Always read with an open mind.

Translating: Getting Rid of “Roger That”


Take the time to “translate” your military experience. I will be using a section of my summary to show what I mean by this.

What I was translating, in simple abbreviated military terminology.

“I graduated bootcamp and went to ITB so I could become an 0351. After I got to V1/7 Animal, I became a dismount and later got my qual as an 0933 / 0931 so I could teach my Marines how to shoot.”

What on earth does that mean to Mr. Smith, the hiring manager for Company X? What is ITB, and why does it matter what your number was? Let’s take a look at how you could describe your actions in a more civilian friendly way.

“Starting as an entry level employee, infantry based in the military, I have made leaps and bounds to place myself above my peers in the civilian work sector. After only eight months with my assigned work section, I pushed myself to gain instruction and employment as a training manager. Subsequently, less than one year later after gaining more employees and responsibility, I successfully completed a three month course to become an instructor of training teams. While using these qualifications, I ensured my company qualified more than 200 employees in tasks essential to their employment”

Taking the time to show what you have done and how you benefited the workplace, will be much more helpful to a hiring manger’s understanding as to why you, a veteran, would be a great employee. Something else to think about is your work experience. Try using more commonly known words. For example, you are a Supervisor instead of a Sergeant. If you are going to list experience as “Section Leader” or something similar, take a sentence or two to describe exactly what that is and what you accomplished: “Assault Section Leader: Successfully responsible for the training and employment of 16 employees, 4 teams of 4, and approximately $800,000 worth of equipment.”

Attire: No More Boots and Covers


You’ve been dressing a certain way for years now. After your basic training, you were told what was acceptable and professional. This week, take a minute to reassess how you present yourself. Look at professionals in the field you want to work in and decide if you’re dressed appropriately.

Now in some industries and work environments, your regulation haircut will be acceptable, but in many it isn’t. At least consider growing out your hair in an orderly fashion but losing the fade. There are countless articles on how to dress and conduct yourself to land the job you want. Take a minute out of your day and read at least one a week. Invest some time in improving your appearance to a potential employer.

The Search: Where to look for jobs


You, as a veteran, have countless resources available to you during your transition and the years after. One thing to keep in mind is to make it to your transition course as soon as you are allowed. Though the course itself is beneficial, learning about tasks you want to accomplish 6 months before separation when you are a mere 2 months before you finish your contract, is frustrating. Here are a couple sites to get you started.

USAJOBS – Government jobs. Don’t forget to switch from U.S. Civilian to Federal Employees and search again while keeping an eye out for Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) or Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA).

Hiring Our Heros – United States Chamber of Commerce has helped organize job fairs all over the nation for you to take advantage of. Look for one near you and try to make it to at least 1 in the following months.

Now, I could go on linking sites and showing you all the resources online we have available, but this week you need to get off the computer and discover the resources you have already. The best way to learn about and get into a good interview is by word of mouth! I’m constantly asking friends if they know of anything I might be suited for. If they do, it’s more likely the company will take the time to interview you because someone they already hired said you’d be a good fit!

About a month ago, I had a series of interviews with a major company for a really amazing project because I was put in contact with the Project Leader of the job. I hadn’t responded to any job posting online but emailed the contact directly with information on how I had heard about the job and why I would be a good fit. A few days later, I had my first interview. Though I didn’t end up receiving a job offer, it was a great learning experience on how to initiate contact with a company I wanted to work for while staying away from job posting boards.

In Closing: Tying It All Together


You already have the tools to succeed by utilizing the classic OODA* Loop in your search. Take time to think about BAMCIS** on the job you are planning. For those of you who didn’t learn these terms and their uses, try using other techniques you’ve learned over the course of your service.

* Observe – Orient – Decide – Act (LOOP). ** Begin the planning – Arrange the recon – Make the recon – Complete the planning – Issue the order – Supervise. You can and should plan an approach to the job that you want. ”¢ Don’t just use the same resume ”¢ Don’t have information not relevant to the job you want ”¢ Don’t wait for the right job to find you ”¢ Do design a custom resume for the job you want ”¢ Do take time to research the company you want to work for ”¢ Do plan questions that matter for the interview you’ll get ”¢ Do take the time to ask for help if you need it

Thank you for taking the time out of your day, and I hope this article helps you in your transition and job search. Sincerely, Joshua Fulmer

Editor’s notes: (This article was originally posted on the author’s LinkedIn blog.  However, we feel it is relevant to many of our Stack-up supporters.  Understanding and knowledge are what help our vets reintegrate into civilian society as well as educate civilians on military life)

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