Success Story: Brian

After four years at a service academy and a year as an Army officer, Brian knew what it was like to “adapt and overcome.”  But then life threw him a huge curveball: a career-ending training injury that thrust him into the civilian job market at the height of the recession.

“Like many other twenty somethings,” Brian says, “I was forced to move back in with my parents while attempting to come up with a plan for my future.”   (In these economic climes, 40-60% of twenty somethings move back home at some point, or plan to!)

Within a year, he crossed the country to begin a PhD program in History, with the intention to become a university professor… only to discover that it wasn’t the career path he wanted to pursue either.  Brian realized what many JMOs need to consider when they leave the military: your transition is the ultimate opportunity to reinvent your personal brand.

“Consider this an advantage,” Brian advises, “In the future, your personal brand will be defined by your education and career experience… Each future decision will affect your brand, so consider each option carefully with an eye to your long-term objectives.”

For Brian, that meant focusing on what he truly loved: technology.

“I focused on my career contemplation until I developed a laser-like focus on the objective of becoming a ‘techie’ and subject matter expert in a large firm with a technology focus, based out of a major city.”

Does a goal get any more defined than that?  Armed with his objective, Brian left the PhD program within a year, landing a job with one of the world’s largest publicly traded technology companies.  It’s obvious that he loves his job, and has found something many JMOs actively seek in their transition: career fulfillment.    He’s now a standout at his firm, one of the top-performing technical experts in his age group.

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LinkedIn

I’m a LinkedIn believer!  I even bought a book about it.  I’m a social networking addict, but LinkedIn was something I avoided for a while.  I didn’t sign on until I knew that I’d be making my transition.  I knew it would be important for networking, building my connections with others to find out about career opportunities, get advice, and keep in touch with fellow professionals.

LinkedIn isn’t magic.  You don’t create a profile and suddenly have an Inbox full of job offers.  You need to work on building connections with people you know, picking their brains, researching companies and available jobs, and ultimately doing the legwork on your own.  But it’s still a great resource and first step for those considering leaving the military for the civilian workforce.

My LinkedIn Tips:

  • Have a complete profile.  Work on it!  Just like your Facebook page, you are representing yourself and how others see you.  Make a good first impression, and make it complete.  Use a professional-looking photo.  Use your resume as a guide.  Make it complete, so you look put-together; a crappy profile looks like you didn’t make the effort.
  • If you find a profile you like, let it be your guide!  I learn a lot from seeing other people’s profiles.  They may include something that I’ve overlooked, like an accomplishment I forgot about.  They may have some great verbiage that sounds more professional than mine.  My LinkedIn profile is a fluid thing, and I actually get messages from people complimenting me on it!  But I owe thanks to the people who’ve already established themselves and set a good example for me to follow.
  • Get recommendations.  I’ve been told 1-2 recommendations per job can make a difference.  I found former bosses/professors on LinkedIn, and sent them a recommendation request.  When a couple of them asked for suggested comments, I provided them some examples of great ones I’d seen on other profiles.  It’s like a mini-reference for your profile, and you aren’t ‘complete’ without a few.
  • Find people.  Look for fellow college alumni, join groups for veterans, and seek out good, solid connections.  The great thing about LinkedIn is that is will recommend people for you to connect with, based on your current connections.  It’s a great thing to review every once in a while, to build your base. You can also use the search box to reconnect with former employers and coworkers.  This is a great way to find people who can give you those recommendations.

Do you use LinkedIn?  Any tips?