Are You a Veteran?

Last month I was fortunate to attend an event sponsored by the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) and the Center for Transitional Leadership (CTL). The topic was Hiring from the Talent Pool of US Veterans. The primary focus of this event was on assisting veterans who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life. I received many good ideas that I can use as an employer to hire more veterans, but (if you are a veteran) I also learned a number of tips I can share with you to help you find that next job.

Veterans need to find someone who can help them translate their military career into business-speak. The military is famous for its acronyms and jargon that most civilians do not understand. Even words like platoon or battalion need to include manpower equivalents. A great number of military activities and training have a direct business correlation, but it is the responsibly of the veteran to provide that translation, not to assume that the civilian understands.

I learned that soldiers, and especially officers, need to learn to listen. The military trains them to be decisive and work within a very structured command and control system. That does not always translate well to businesses. Soldiers were also encouraged to be very introspective about what their skills, strengths, and weakness are. Attributes that are strengths in the military may not carry the same value in the business world.

An important consideration is that veterans often leave the military without a large network of non-military contacts. They don’t know people in business and therefore it is harder to find a job. LinkedIn was cited as a critical resource. What many veterans don’t know is that they have an enormous informal network of former military that have already made the transition. Working with LinkedIn and with a few known contacts (possibly through AUSA or CTL) soldiers who are about to be discharged can begin an active networking process and build substantial relationships before the leave the military.

Finally, veterans, like everyone else, need to be persistent. Two of the speakers at this event shared that they went 1-for-150 and 1-for-90 respectively on job applications. For the first man, a Colonel, he had to apply for 150 jobs before he was hired.

The secrets here are universal truths, regardless of your military background:

  • Successful job seekers need to make sure they present their background in fashion that whomever they are talking with can relate that background to their need,
  • You need to listen – as my Mom said, that’s why God gave you two ears but only one mouth,
  • You must network and tap into the hidden job market, and finally,
  • You must be both persistent and patient.

Now, let’s get busy and find you that next job.


If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to, network or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Click here for more details.


One huge key to job search success is persistence. Here are two real stories.

One day I was at work, doing normal stuff and my boss, the company president, came in at sat down. He said, “Roger, I’m afraid I have to use one of things you’ve taught me. We’ve decided to eliminate your position and today will be your last day of work.” I was blindsided – I had absolutely no idea that was coming. He went on to tell me about a meager severance package and then I was done. That was in early September. The following May a friend told me about a new company that was just starting – maybe they’d need an HR person. I networked into the President and met him. He felt I would be a good person for that job, but they needed to complete an acquisition first – he’d be in touch. I followed up with him about every 30 days while I continued to look for other opportunities. Finally, in October – 13 months after I’d been fired – I started with this new company. That turned out to be a great job for me.

Here’ another – in 1999 the company I was working for was struggling. The family that had owned the business for 3 generations was trying to turn in around and had brought in a turn-around specialist. Then one day the President gathered the senior team and announced he’d sold the company to our cross-town rival. The new owners would decide if they needed us or not. (In the end, they decided not.) But, during that transition I had an idea. I would take my experiences of finding jobs and write a book. My plan at the time was to be leading edge and publish the book along with a CD-ROM of resources. I wrote that book and then put it in a drawer because by then I had a new job and no time to work on it. Ten years later, I took the manuscript out and brought it up to date. Then I started shopping it to publishers. After three years and over 20 rejections, I found Lighthouse Point Press. There were some other issues and delays, but in August, 2014, I’m Fired?!? was published. My 15-year-old baby was finally born.

My message is that I know being out of work sucks. And I know it is hard to wait and to keep looking and looking. I know what it feels like to be rejected, to have your resume ignored, to be a finalist but not get the job, and to have to come back and try to explain to your kids why you don’t have a job. But I also know that good things come to those who wait. Not wait by sitting on the couch, but wait by working to find those good things. Persistence pays off. Tenacity is an excellent character trait.

Make the plan, work the plan, and keep the faith. The right job for you is out there. If you work for it, you’ll find it. Now, let’s go find that job!

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.