Job Search Advice – Ask Chad about Careers, Part 10

Ask Chad about Careers, Part 10  |

By Chad Sowash  |  chief experience officer at RecruitMilitary and a former infantry drill sergeant in the United States Army  |

Published in the September/October 2011 issue of print Search & Employ®  |

Chad Sowash answers career questions submitted by men and women who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life, veterans who already have civilian work experience, members of the National Guard and reserve forces, and military spouses.

I have been in the military for 13 1/2 years. I am now in the Army National Guard, where  I’m a 25 B, Systems Analyst working with every aspect of networking, computer repair, and satellite communications. I have a BA in business management and recently completed my master’s in IT Project Management. What are my options?

Federal contractors everywhere are searching for candidates with your type of schooling and experience. You could easily do a traditional job search or use a new network of job sites dedicated to helping transitioning military find jobs at (not .com but .jobs.) This site allows you to enter your 25B MOS, and it will send you to a site that has relevant civilian jobs. You can also type into your browser and find the same result: civilian jobs specific to your needs from companies looking to hire transitioning military.

I’m a former Army MP who got out in 2001, and I am looking to change my career field. I don’t have a college degree, and now I’m 39 years old. It seems like I’m deadlocked to work in law enforcement or security for the rest of my life. My first choice would be to work in the intelligence community. My second choice would be to work as an instructor in a security or law enforcement-related field. I’m not averse to training for a new career or getting a formal education. Any ideas?

First and foremost, enroll in school because it is never too late to start driving toward your degree. Even if you can only manage a few classes here and there it will still put you in the right frame of mind, and demonstrate to others that you believe in bettering yourself. Remember that many already have a degree although they may have just been sitting on it for years without getting back into class and refreshing those old skills with new ones. So, do not feel like you are behind, because when you enroll you are ahead!

Secondly, you are never deadlocked. The decision to change may be hard, and you must assess the long-term risks versus the rewards. You may have to forgo some of the daily amenities that we tend to spoil ourselves with and focus on only our needs. America is the “Land of the FREE,” but it is also the “Land of ABUNDANCE,” which means we should regularly sacrifice some of our short-term wants and focus on our needs to help reach our long-term goals. In layman’s terms, we may have to drive our cars for a few more years, drop satellite TV, and sacrifice other items or services that are not “needed” to truly be happy and reach our goals.

Last but never least; I challenge you to look before you leap. Check out the career areas you believe that you would like and explore them further. Network with people in the industry or profession you are seeking to enter. You should also research to see if it is a growing field. The last thing anyone wants to hear is another story about someone taking the time to go to school, landing a job, and then soon after getting downsized out of the position. No matter the decision, do thorough research, put your head down, and drive on!

I retired from the Air Force as an officer 15 years ago and stayed home to raise our kids while my wife continued her active-duty career. Even though I am nearly 60 and have been out of the workforce for 15 years, I still worked part-time as a property manager for our rental properties.  kept the books, balanced budgets, and hired small groups of managers and contractors on a repeated basis. I want to return to the workforce full-time. What could you recommend?  

Your mindset needs to change dramatically. You have not been out of the workforce for 15 years. Rather, you have worked for yourself in a small-business environment. I would also caution the “part-time” label, knowing that managing rental properties might be very light some days and incredibly demanding at other times.

This is a major change in how you perceive yourself and moreover, how employers will perceive your skills. Do not lead with “I stayed home to raise the kids.” Lead instead with, “I worked in a small business environment which provided the necessary flexibility for my family while my wife finished her military career.” It sounds as if you have a wonderful skillset, although it will not be perceived as such if it is not presented in the appropriate manner.

Do not apologize for being out of the corporate world. You should tout your entrepreneurial and self-managed/motivated skills, which every employer should want and need. Presentation is EVERYTHING!

Second step, start researching a career which lies within your interest, research the industry to ensure it is ripe for growth and then execute the search.

Drive on!


About the Author

This article was written by Chad Sowash