What are you reading?

If you’re in the military, and you want to learn more about a piece of equipment, tactic, or mission, you do your homework.  You read the manuals, regulations, and research.  So why would your transition to Corporate America be any different?

There are a bunch of books out there that are recommended reading for those transitioning to business.  Some recruiting firms will even give you their reading list.  Others will recommend you subscribe to magazines, like Fortune or Money or Forbes.  But if you’re here, reading this, chances are you’re internet-savvy enough to dive into the blogosphere, and get some good reading in for free.  You just need to know where to look!

First off, a lot of those recommended magazines publish the SAME content online.  You can read the articles for free, and also read even more contributions from their team of bloggers and contributors.  The great thing about blogs?  It provides FREE personal experience and insight.  Sure, you have to wade through some opinions, and take it with a grain of salt.  But if you skip out on reading business/career blogs because you think they’ll be boring or too subjective, you’ll miss out on awesome gems like Alex Knapp’s “Five Leadership Mistakes of the Galactic Empire.”  (Seriously, you can learn great business lessons from Star Wars!)

Not all blogs update every day; some update only a couple times a month.  You can organize the blogs you read using Google Reader; most blogs have an RSS feed (similar to a URL) that you can use so all new entries pop up in your reader.  I installed an RSS reader on my iPad, so every new article is organized by subject so I can sift through to decide what to read.

If you don’t want to have an RSS feed, following these blogs/magazines on Twitter can allow you to scroll through tweets linked to articles, allowing you to “opt in” whenever you want.

A few blogs I follow:  (in reality, I follow 100+ in various categories)

What blogs are you reading?

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Google Veterans Channel

A mentor of mine sent me a link to some great, short videos on Google’s Veterans Channel.  A lot of them focus on transitioning from military to civilian life, so I’ve included some you might find useful!

How was your transition out of the military? – Lyle (former Marine officer, on working as a civilian) (featured video above)

How was your transition out of the military? – Meg (former Army, on using your support network)

How was your transition out of the military? – Mike (former Army Ranger, struggled when he got out)

Finding a Civilian Job – Luke (former Navy, quantifying military skills/impact)

Finding a Civilian Job – Mike (using network to find a job)

Finding a Civilian Job – Lyle ( treats job hunt like a mission)

Continuing to Serve – Todd (former Marine, volunteering with vets groups)

Going Back to School – Lyle (used his GI Bill for MBA)

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?