Category: Military Transition

Soldier to Civilian: Networking as a Veteran

When I left the military in 2007, my next move was business school. As a fresh veteran, I knew little about the private sector, let alone business. What I learned one short week after arriving was that networking is everything.

Networking can be unusual and unnatural for soldiers. We do little of it in our military careers. For the most part, our OER and NCOERs (military performance appraisals) speak for our professionalism and experience. The Army and sister branches rely on this system, in my opinion, for these three reasons:

  • Efficiency – The Army is the large organization with an enormous Human Resources challenge.
  • Continuity – If everyone operates under the same grading system, with all soldiers given equal opportunity to succeed (shine), promotions and job assignments should be fair.
  • Community – When we enter the service we’re designated to a career within a specific branch or corps. In short, everyone will eventually know each other or be one degree away from knowing each other before long.

This system is designed to practically eliminate the need to network the way our counterparts do in the private sector. So where does that leave veterans as they transition into the civilian workforce?

My first week of business school was a networking nightmare. Everyone was doing their best to leave strong first impressions while discovering what each other’s past careers were and where future careers were headed. This felt hokey to me and I was reluctant to participate. After a few weeks I made some friends who asked, “why aren’t you attending networking events?” I explained my reasons and they explained why I was making a mistake.

Here’s why networking is everything

I graduated from Cornell in 2009. Since then I have had three jobs. I worked at a New York start-up straight out of school doing business development. After this experience, I moved to San Francisco and landed a job doing operations management with SRI. Finally, in early 2011, I left to begin my first of three businesses for military service members. My third and the one I’m most proud of is Purepost.

Over the past 9 years, what got me work and allowed me to start funding my company was meeting with hundreds of people over coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks, running groups, biking groups, dinner parties… you get the idea. It’s all about networking.

In the private sector, every professional is looking for the next opportunity, even if they say they aren’t. I was in the Army for eight years and never networked to get a job. My father was a Cold War soldier for 21 years and never networked to get a job. It’s because you’re always, technically, in the same organization.

In the private sector people don’t share their performance appraisals when interviewing for a new job with a new company. What they share is a resume and, nowadays, their LinkedIn profile.

I’m not going to tell you how to get over the hokey feeling of networking. You are a veteran or a Soldier, Airman, Marine, or Sailor. You’ve been in tougher situations. What I can provide are some tips to help with the networking process to ease your transition as a veteran entering the private sector:

  • Find a mentor and coach who has made a successful transition from military service to the private sector. No need to re-create the networking wheel — learn from another veterans’ mistakes and successes.
  • Find a mentor and coach who has been in the private sector for their entire career. They can provide just as much guidance and assistance as a veteran. In many cases, their advice may be more valuable as you begin.
  • Prior to leaving service, start translating your military experience to private sector relevance. You’ve accomplished some amazing feats – now you need to translate them. Before you know it, you’re a year way from leaving the military and need that resume and a year of preparation to find your next job.
  • Create a LinkedIn account a year to six months prior to leaving the military. LinkedIn is currently providing a free, one-year subscription for their premium account. The premium account allows you to send messages between other LinkedIn users and gives access to benefits to other features. This is how you get a free premium account: a. Join LinkedIn and complete the profile.
b. Be sure to add your military experience, so LinkedIn can verify you are serving or have served.
c. Join the Veteran Mentor Network and then join the subgroup, “LI Job Seeker Subscription.”
 LinkedIn will later connect you to information on the premium upgrade.
  • Create a 30-second personal pitch. What’s your story?
  • Create a Meetup profile and start searching for groups that interest you in your local education or business community. Meetup will help you meet non-military people who enjoy the same activities and have the same interests as you do. This is a good way to network without feeling like you are ‘actively’ networking.
  • Be courageous and put yourself out there! It’s scary at first and seems uncomfortable, but as with everything else, you will succeed and land yourself the jobs and opportunities you deserve and desire!
Anthony Garcia
Purepost, CEO and Co-Founder

How to Obtain your DD214 or Army ORB / Army ERB

These instructions will be helpful to anyone needing:

  • An electronic copy of your DD214
  • An electronic of your Army ORB or Army ERB

If that’s you, read on!

Your DD214

For Purepost users, if you’ve already got a PDF copy of your DD214, you can stop here and go to your Purepost profile to upload it for review.

If not, you have a few options for obtaining a PDF copy of your DD214:

  • If you have an electronic DD214, but it’s in a photo format such as .jpg or .png, you can convert it to PDF:
    • Open the image with your favorite photo editor and either…
      • “Save as…” and choose “PDF” as the file type and save the file, or
      • “Print..” and choose the Print to PDF option and save the file
  • If you have paper copies of your DD214:
    • Use a scanner to save your DD214 to your computer in PDF format, or
    • With a smart phone, snap a picture and save it as a PDF with one of the many apps in the Apple or Google store
  • If you have already ETS’d and don’t have a paper or electronic copy of your DD214:
    • You’ll need to request it from the VA’s eBenefits page.
    • Access will require either a CAC or Department of Defense Self-Service (DS) log in.

Here are the steps for obtaining your DD214 from eBenefits:

  1. Go to the eBenefits home page at https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage
  2. Select Log In or Register, depending on if you’ve created an account
    Clicking “Register” will help you create a new Department of Defense Self-Service (DS) log in
  3. After you’ve established your DS account, go to the Login page
    You must first agree to the terms before logging in
  4. Select “Request your OPMF Information” button on right side of screen
  5. You will be taken to DPRIS – U.S. Government Information System page
    Select the “Accept” button with your cursor
  6. Enter the email you wish to have your DD214 sent to
    Check the Army box, check the DD214 box
    Click “Submit”
  7. The system will email you once your records are ready for view.
    It can take up to 3 days for your records to be ready.
  8. When you receive an emailed indicating that the records are ready for review, follow steps 1-3 above.
  9. Select “View your Retrieved OMPF Information” button on the right side of the page.
  10. Your records will be located at the bottom of the page and will be viewable/downloadable for 14 days only.
  11. Save your DD214 as a PDF, to a location where they can be easily retrieved.

With the PDF files downloaded from eBenefits, you can now upload your DD214 to Purepost.

Your ORB/ERB/SRB/2-1

Why an updated and accurate ORB/ERB/SRB/2-1 is important?

The ORB/ERB/SRB can be considered a military resume. It details all of your accomplishments and achievements while serving in the military. To best prepare for transition out of the military, it is an excellent practice to ensure that your record brief is always up-to-date especially with your schooling, awards, and assignments.

How do you obtain your ORB/ERB?

How to obtain your ORB/ERB from AKO (Active duty Soldiers only):

  1. Go to Army AKO at www.us.army.mil.
  2. Select “ORB: Officer Record Brief”/ “ERB: Enlisted Record Brief” link under Army Links column on right side of the screen.
  3. Once forwarded to the ORB/ERB page, select the “view/print” button.
  4. Save as a PDF to your desktop, where they can be easily retrieved.
  5. Finished!

How to obtain your ORB/ERB in the Reserves/National Guard:

  1. Contact your Unit Administrator (UA) for assistance in building your 2-1/SRB.
  2. Ensure that you have all documentation required to help the UA build out your completed and accurate 2-1/SRB.

Feel free to contact us for assistance or with any questions in gathering your military documents and records.

-The Purepost Team

The Why of The Purepost Skills Translation Method

We’ve Walked in Your Boots

Have you ever been to a Military resume builder or translation website and the system tells you that your Military position doesn’t transfer? We’ve seen it and we’ve experienced it. That feeling you had of “what do you mean?”, is understood and felt here at Purepost.

My father Tony Garcia, Sr. and I are Veterans. Tony experienced the Military transition challenge in 1993, when he retired as a LTC. I did later in 2007.

We got fed up with the current “bad solutions” and decided to make something that works for all Veterans and Service Members.

Unlike many resume builders and websites that know little more than military titles and ranks, Purepost knows “how the military runs” and more importantly – deeply understands the amazing takeaways from your service experience. We illustrate this in your Purepost profile and resume, which takes less than 10 minutes to create.

Create Your Free Purepost Resume

We know the complexity of each military speciality and we work hard to fully and accurately understand where you’ve been and what you have done in your specific specialty.

Purepost can do this because we possess a rich and clear understanding of your military career path, training, education, and position responsibilities that correspond directly to your career experience.

Purepost also possesses a real time inventory of job postings to make sure we can match your real capabilities to your future civilian job aspirations.

How We Create an Effective Civilian Resume

  1. We take a hard look at your military position experience by examining each position held against the official regulation based responsibilities and duty bullets
  2. We research and determine the skills you acquired during your military career path, that includes broadening assignments, training and real world problem solving.
  3. We relate your total experience, training, and final position level attained to a compatible civilian industry job position and role
  4. Purepost develops civilian compatible resume statements to compliment your military duties by position
  5. With each resume statement, we pair up civilian leadership and technical skills that reflect what you bring to the civilian job market.

Why Your Military Job Title and Description is Translated

As a Military member, your rank and duty title/position may not make sense to a corporate recruiter. Your Purepost profile and resume bridges the gap between Military and civilian life as you transition. Your civilian compatible job title and resume statements may not be clear to you at first, because we are focusing on descriptions of what you accomplished with the mindset of a civilian recruiter/hiring manager. If the civilian recruiter or hiring manager don’t understand what you did – you wont get an interview. You’ll see differences in what you may have created in the past and what your Purepost resume states. We match a civilian job title with your Military duty title to support your job responsibilities and level within the Army. That civilian job title is listed on your resume to bridge the gap.

Create Your Free Purepost Resume

Your Skills

At the top of your Purepost profile and  resume, you will see your top nine civilian skills. Purepost uses its research based, proprietary Skills Bank and mapping algorithm to accurately map in-demand skills that you have acquired during your military service to your resume statements. Review your resume statements and compare them with the skills listed. Make sure they make sense to you. Then review your top skills and research what they mean and how they relate to what you did in the Military.

We’re Here to Help!

We know this transition process is “the road less traveled” for you, your buddies, and even your families. The job search process brings uncertainty and fear to many people. Consider us your battle buddy in your search for a new job. We are here to provide support to veterans along this journey.

Create Your Free Purepost Resume

Supporting Your Spouse During a Military Transition

Whether you are crossing off the days on the calendar or wringing your hands in anticipation of the new adventures ahead, the active duty to civilian career transition process can be long and stressful.

As most spouses know, there is really very little official work that can be done on behalf of the soldier in helping them navigate, prepare, finalize paperwork, attend workshops, and take phone calls on the Army side of the house.

So, what can Military Spouses do?

You’ve been by your soldier’s side through it all. You’ve endured and outlasted the many odds against you and you are ready to be just as involved in this military transition process as everything else. But how?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Networking – The military spouse community is small, but the connections are wide! Between units, schools, locations, volunteer organizations, and moves, you’ve created an expansive network of connections. In mind of employment and career options, reach out to those you know who’ve already positioned or who used specific services for job placement and resume assistance. A few emails with a, “Hey, we are getting out soon. Any advice or direction?” can go a long way. Sit down together with your spouse and make a list of 10-20 people you can reach out to and reconnect with. Use the strong community ties to your advantage.
  2. Research – Knowledge is power. While most of the transition is out of your control, you can understand and utilize the many venues and services out there catered to the military community. Whether you start by filtering through the various VSOs (Veteran Service Organizations), veteran community organizations, or work to understand the purpose and place of the VA in your retired life, the more clarity and information you have to align with your changing path the better.
  3. Active Listening – Resiliency training and re-integration phases often stress the importance of communication with your spouse. The cycle of stress is real. Mutual support and understanding of each others’ goals, needs, and wants during this phase of life will impact the overall emotional and mental success of the transition. Serious conversations on course of career, relocation, financial changes, and role reversal PRIOR to the transition beginning will assist in an easier roadmap as the transition plays out. But just as active duty life changes with little notice, this experience together will be no different. So stay open, connected, verbal, and also listening to your partner.

If you’re eager to help your spouse gauge how their military experience can be translated into the civilian workforce, click below to quickly create an accurate resume for free!

Tips To Overcome Culture Shock After the Army

cul·ture shock (noun):
the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.

The most common hurdles in military transitions are frequently discussed: employment, VA benefits, paperwork, medical out processing, etc. But what other elements of this transition experience exist that aren’t being as openly discussed?

We often tend to keep “culture shock” in strict reference to locational or geographical changes. A deployment to the Middle East warrants culture shock. A duty assignment in Korea warrants culture shock. A redeployment from Iraq back to Fort Bragg after 15 months is an acceptable reason for culture shock. (Even a PCS from Fort Drum to Fort Polk can be deemed worthy of culture shock. If you’ve been to Fort Polk, you’ll get it.)

But what happens when the “shock” isn’t so widely accepted or understood? It quickly changes from a cliché term thrown around in vague description to something deeply personal and conflicting.

If you ask a transitioned soldier what the hardest part of assimilating into a civilian job was, it’s going to be navigating through the unfamiliar culture, daily routines, interactions, attitudes, language, jargon, terminologies, and values of a civilian company. It’s not a simple job transfer. It’s not as easy as “took a new job today.” It’s a deep mental shift from one way of life to another and the more we continue to acknowledge, accept, and discuss this phase of transition, the better off our soldiers, families, and services will be.

A recent independent study on veterans in the workplace from the Burton Blatt Institute and Competitive Edge Services reports that “transition experiences can be complicated by a number of factors: physical and psychological service-related injuries (including PTSD), the lack of an easy way to communicate one’s experience and skills, and the lack of a written rule book on the prevailing unspoken corporate rules. Some reported being misunderstood by co-workers due to differences in one’s manner, expectations, and speech. Others were frustrated by the lack of a clear chain of command and a clear path for advancement. Others described missing the sense of mission and urgency within the military that resulted from knowing that the lives of others might depend on the speed and quality of one’s own work. Some also spoke of missing the camaraderie and bonds fostered by working and living in close quarters and depending on each other in critical, life and death situations. And others described how losing such bonds can create feelings of painful loneliness.”

In short, culture shock.

So how do you assimilate? How do you ease the stress of the cultural transition? In an ideal world, observation, research, and time to adapt would be key. But in a fast moving market, on the job training and job performance are expected immediately leaving little time to ease into the culture of your new career. So as you prepare, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Knowledge is power. Ask questions. Be bold and clear in your intentions. At any point in the employment seeking process the following set of questions are appropriate to ask:

“Could you explain the chain of command within your company’s structure?”

“How would you describe the daily pace of work here?”

“What are the defining elements of the team culture in this company?”

This short clip will provide you great additional material for conversations with potential employers: Top Ten Interview Questions to Ask an Employer

Stay involved. Staying connected to a community the understands where you’ve been, what you’ve done, where you struggle, where you thrive, and where you are going is life preserving. Even if you relocate and are far removed from a military installation or active military community, still seek out ways to remain connected. Veteran organizations that offer local chapters like Team RWB or Team Rubicon that offer events, get togethers, and physical training outlets are incredible morale boosters, networking, and destressor opportunities. Engaging in LinkedIn or Facebook communities geared towards veteran networking and support also provide real time, interactive platforms to stay engaged. Don’t shut yourself out. Don’t suffer in silence. A community exists to support you, just have seek out and reach out.

Focus on the commonalities. While the finer threads connecting military roles to civilian jobs may not always be strong, the encompassing strategy is the same. There is a job to be done, a team put together the get the job done, and specific parameters and expectations in which the job is to be done. Channel the energy and strong skill set you possess towards positive momentum in your new career.

Set realistic timeframes for adjustments. Two days on the job won’t leave you fully adjusted. The first 4-6 weeks in a new job are often training and information overload. Expect this and plan for it. If anything, veterans are apt to adapt and envelope loads of information under stressful situations, just remember those skills still exist it’s only the stream and source of information that has changed.

A smooth transition out of the military can be difficult, so here are some helpful tips to set yourself up for success in your new endeavors!

ETS Equals Active Job Seekers

I decided to leave the Army in April of 2006. My 8 years of Active Duty Service would be complete May of 2007, which gave me roughly a year to prepare for my ETS.

I didn’t realize I should have begun my job search as soon as I decided to ETS. No one explained to me that my civilian counter parts have their next job lined up before leaving their current job. No one explained to me that I should have been applying for jobs, networking, and discovering how my military skills transferred to specific job opportunities in the private sector.

To be honest I figured after leaving the Army I would find a job while taking a break from work. However, being unemployed in the private sector while looking for a job is a red flag for recruiters and employers. Here are some of the stereotypes:

  • The unemployed are lazy
  • The unemployed are incompetent
  • The unemployed don’t want to work
  • Something is wrong with the unemployed
  • The unemployed lack the skills necessary to find work

Bottom line, employers believe the best workers are the ones who already have work. If I had known this to be true I would have been actively seeking work while employed by the U.S. Army.

So what does being an active job seeker mean? LinkedIn says that an active job seeker or candidate is actively looking for work. This does not mean they’re unemployed, but it can. In our case, we’re not unemployed; we’ve just made the decision to transition from the military. The key is now to find work before our ETS date.

LinkedIn further explains that the active job seeker is looking for new work for a variety of reasons:

  • They’re concerned about their current employer’s stability
  • They would like to take more responsibility and grow professionally
  • Their job was outsourced (meaning the job is now held by someone separate from the current company)
  • Their employer went out of business

About 25% of the work force falls in this category, so we’re not alone from our civilian counter parts.

Now that we know we’re active job seekers there are a few steps to being effective active job seekers.

Resume

First, it starts with creating a resume that translates your military experience to civilian terms that recruiters understand and are searching for. Purepost takes care of this for you in about the time it takes to a 1040EZ tax return online. Building your resume has never been simpler, and we support all service branches.

A resume is important because it provides an overview of your professional achievements to a recruiter and employer. In many ways, a resume is similar to your ORB or ERB. Like your ORB/ERB, the resume provides a snapshot of your past and current jobs (duty assignments), achievements (awards), and education (training, badges, schools).

Your resume is:

  • What you will apply to jobs with, online
  • What you will email or take with you, when networking with professionals
  • What you will take with you to all interviews

Job Search

Once you’ve created your resume and understand how your military skills map to private sector skills, you’ll want to begin your job search.

Here is where you will want to be strategic in searching for your next career in the private sector. You will search for your job in one of three ways:

  • Location
  • Company
  • And of course Job characteristics

When I left the Army, I followed on to complete my Masters in Business Administration. Once I completed my education, I knew living in the San Francisco Bay Area was top priority to succeed in my next career.

This told me that I would not be looking for any career opportunities outside of the Bay Area.

After I settled on my location, the next most important factor to me was the type of job I wanted. This put the priority of company last and actually allowed for more job opportunities.

Once I decided on the type of job I wanted, I compiled a list of all the ideal companies I wanted to work at in the SF Bay Area. This is not as simple as it sounds and takes research to discover what companies where ideal for me. Here are some topics to research that can be discovered online or through Glassdoor.

  • The product or service provided to the consumer
  • The Culture
  • Company Leadership
  • Salaries
  • Current events and news concerning the company
  • Company Vision, Mission and Goals – what do they ultimate want to accomplish and create in the future
  • Current financial and cultural health of the company – i.e. have they laid employees off recently, how are their products and services doing in relevance to market share – in other words, are customers happy and are the products and service successful

I realize this all may seem overwhelming, but the articles here on the Purepost blog provide the guidance you need to break this task down in a manageable way, providing methods for determining the company you want to work at.

Networking

Once you’ve decided the location, job, and company you want to work at, it’s time to network. I’ve chosen to discuss networking before applying for a job because of one main reason – It’s all about who you know in the private sector. By knowing someone who works at a company you desire to work at, or an industry you desire to work in, your chances of finding a job increase. This does not mean you have to network to obtain a job; it just might speed up the process.

When I moved to San Francisco I applied to countless jobs. What was surprising was 90% of my interviews came from knowing someone at the company before submitting my job application.

For example, I was interested in working at a major health care system located in Oakland. Before applying for the job, I did my research on the company and later reached out to a gentleman, who I’ll call James. James also graduated from the same masters program I had attended. This was a connection I obtained from a friend who I also went to school with.

When I met James it was over coffee and he had 30 minutes to meet with me. Prior to our meeting, I had studied the company and knew of 3 jobs I was interested in. James first asked me why I was interested in his company. I explained that my background in the Army was Medical Service, in terms he would understand. I handed him my resume and explained my background. James asked a few questions about my Army experience and I fired back responses similar to being interviewed.

He then asked, how can I help? At this point I had brought up the jobs I was interested in and asked questions about these opportunities. I also explained why I was qualified. James explained that he knew people in that department to include the hiring manager (The employee who requested the position you are interviewing for. If you are provided a job offer, and decide to accept, you will be working for the hiring manager). James explained to send him an email with my resume to forward to the hiring manager. This experience resulted in an interview.

This happens across all industries and job types. One of my good friends, who had worked in a warehouse at a major grocery company, obtained a job as a forklift operator/driver from networking with my father. My father also worked in the same distribution warehouse and introduced my friend to the hiring manager after filling out a job application. It does not matter what type of skilled worker you are, networking works.

Applying for a Job

I discussed networking in length and believe it helps, but it’s not necessary to get a job. What is necessary is having a resume and filling out a job application. If you’ve never done this it can be a bit challenging and over whelming at first. This is why I recommend having a job search strategy. This will at least allow you to focus on specific jobs and companies to apply to.

So what does this process look like? The short answer is you have to apply for a job online. This could be through a companies own website or a job board like Monster.com.

Job boards like Monster.com are helpful in your job search.

Family Dollar uses Taleo for their application process.

Nestle also uses Taleo – this can make it easy when applying to other companies who use Taleo.

If you look closely at the Family Dollar’s and Nestle’s job application site, you will notice they are quite similar – that’s because they’re both powered by Teleo. Taleo is a talent software product for companies, which allows a company to manage their job applications. This also makes it easier for job seekers who have already filled out an application under within the Taleo system.

For example, if I fill out an application at a company that uses Taleo, I may not have to fill out a complete application or upload my resume to the next company. This definitely makes it easy if you’re applying to similar jobs, however if you’re applying for a different job, it’s best that you start over and complete the application to satisfy the job you’re applying for. This may also require you to upload a different resume with different skills selected. Luckily, Purepost makes this easy to change.

Becoming an active job seeker is a job in of-its-own. I know this can seem overwhelming, but it takes practice and it’s best to start as soon as you’ve made the decision to ETS. I’ve found that on average, it can take 3-6 months to find a job, once you’ve fine-tuned your process. Which means you need to treat your job search as a second job.

You’ve got incredible experience and skills that transfer perfectly to several career opportunities. Employers respect your service, they know you will learn on the job, and they know you’ve got core values that ensure success. A Purepost profile will assist in translating the rest.

Anthony Garcia
Purepost CEO
U.S. Army Combat Veteran, Iraq ‘03-’04 and ‘05

Set Yourself Up For Success Before Transitioning Out of the Military

Army soldiers are no stranger to preparedness and situational awareness. By the time most military personnel are transitioning out of the military, these skills have become second nature not only in relation to their military role, but in everyday life as well. Yet somewhere along the line, we see many veterans leaving out these very formative skills that are not only essential, but critical to a successful transition from active duty to the civilian sector.

Preparedness

You can never start too early. The industry recommendation in beginning your transition is somewhere around a year out (and most military offered assistance programs start around then as well), but there are many avenues of preparedness that you can begin at any time in your career. First on the list of early preparedness: a resume. Your resume will become your story. But, that story has to be translated from the military jargon and technicals terms that strongly define your experience into a meaningful snapshot of how you will benefit a future employer. That future employer will not know what your MOS, military awards, or training credentials mean to them as a civilian company. You have to be prepared and have that translation ready. So whether you’ve just enlisted, just finished the Captain’s Career Course, or you are reaching 25 years and counting down the days, start building your translated resume, and allow that story to build with you.

Situational Awareness

While your situation may no longer be in a combat zone, there are many layers of life, family, and future to work through as you strive to make the best decisions to sustain or even improve quality of life. A successful transition begins with staying actively engaged with the goal in sight. The transition experience is weighted with decision making, but when preparing early, there are a few basic parameters that you’ll need to be aware of and how your situation stands:

  • Are you willing to relocate?
  • Will you have children in school?
  • What fields or industries will you pursue?
  • Do you have a network to pull from? (If not, start here: 3 Steps to Building a Network)
  • What are you actually qualified to do in the civilian workforce?
  • Can I articulate my military experience in a way a civilian employer will understand?

If you start to ask these ‘veteran in transition’ questions early and engage in conversations with mentors and spouses, the framework to your transition will slowly begin to build. If you have a strong framework and concept of the direction you desire to go BEFORE you hit those mandated military transition programs, you’ll be able to better piece together the picture being offered for life after active military service.

Active, self-guided involvement in early preparedness is key to a successful transition. Don’t wait until someone says, “Your first TAPS workshop is next Monday.” Go into that transitional period with a plan in place. Remain knowledgeable about your options, clear on the storytelling of your military experience with a translated resume, and aware of the parameters you’ll be needing to set, meet, and achieve.

For more career-driven preparedness tips, check out this blog post!

A Veteran’s Call to Action

When I left the Army in 2007, I had been away from combat for one year and was in the process of transitioning to life as a student. As ridiculous as this sounds, I was more afraid of going to class than receiving a 0300 Dustoff mission. I was afraid because I didn’t know how to act as a civilian, I was zoning out in class thinking about Iraq, I was surrounded by people who had never experienced combat, and I believed I had lost my identity.

Warriors and the Village

Hundreds of years ago, warriors left their villages to fight wars. Sometimes they were away from home for years. Villages knew their warriors, the same as small towns like Bandera, TX and Elmira, NY know their warriors today. When warriors in the past returned to their villages, they were welcomed back with open arms. Every person in the village understood what their warrior had been through. Warriors were not held on pedestals, but were respected because villagers knew they were fighting and defending the community. This understanding helped make the transition from warrior to farmer a relatively smooth one. This understanding eliminated misconceptions about combat and what it meant to be a warrior transitioning to a new profession. Older generations of warriors in a village were the norm, which reinforced the re-assimilation of younger warriors returning home. Our community understood us.

Fast forward to the first half of the 20th century. Many communities were smaller than they are today. There were still generations of warriors in these communities. Organizations like The American Legion and the VFW provided a common place where warriors could come together. Service was mandatory and generations of warriors were still abundant.

It’s different today in the early 21st century. Technology and industrialization have grown our communities and formed our great cities. Our military is vastly improved. We have superior combat technology and our warriors are better trained and educated. We do more with fewer warriors, resulting in only 1 percent of our population serving at any given time. Generations of warriors are widening. Today, a warrior comes back from years of fighting, separates from service, and is thrown into a society that does not understand what he has been through.

Who can help Warriors?

So how do we do a better job of veteran assimilation? I could make the argument that our government and local municipalities should solve the homeless veteran battle, veteran unemployment, and the lack of healthcare resources. I could also make a case for joining the local VFW or American Legion post. I believe it’s our duty, as fellow veterans, to welcome back our brother and sister warriors. It’s our duty, as veterans, to be the community that assists with the transition from warrior to farmer, so to speak. No one can do this better than veterans. And every veteran can make an individual difference. With social media, technology, and the cell phone, we’re all connected and closer than we were 10 years ago. A couple of months ago I discovered that a flight medic I served with was retiring. I got this from his Facebook timeline. The village is not dead, it’s just changed a bit.

Here are some examples of how veterans can help veterans:

  • Telling your transition story to a veteran – Warriors need to understand that they are experiencing nothing that another warrior before them has not been through. This can assist with avoiding isolation from loved ones and assist with combating PTSD – resulting in encouragement to seek professional help.
  • Resume writing – A veteran assisted me in translating my military service to private sector understanding. I was completely lost without his assistance. The process involves digging up old OERs/NCOERs, looking at past assignments, and reflecting on your career. Assistance from a warrior whose made the transition provides validation that what you did while serving can translate to the private sector. It will help you to understand how you can contribute after service and what gaps need to be filled through education and training to be successful. This is why I founded Purepost.
  • Coaching newly separated veterans on how to interact in the private sector – I currently hold monthly Skypes with two buddies who are in the process of leaving service. I tell them about my mistakes and what I thought when I was interacting for the first time in the private sector. The questions they ask me are the same questions I had back in 2007.
  • Connecting veterans with civilians in a social setting – I knew very few non-military folk when I left the Army. It took me a while to make civilian friends. After I made a few good friends, I could see they were just like me. In fact, I would argue having new friends, who have never served, is vital to the transition.
  • Offering assistance – When I was an Army Aviator, crew coordination was paramount to the safety and success of all missions. A vital element to crew coordination is “Offer Assistance.” Crewmembers offer assistance anytime a crewmember sees or recognizes anything that posses a hazard to flight. This could mean taking the controls if the pilot on the controls is having difficulty, or questioning another crewmember prior to taking action. All warriors in combat offer assistance. It’s a matter of life and death. Why should this be any different after service? If you meet a fellow warrior, ask how they’re doing. If you feel a connection, exchange emails or phone numbers. I consider any day I meet a fellow warrior in the San Francisco Bay Area to be a good day. We’re few and far between in this area and it’s good to know we can lean on each other if needed. Even if it’s for a discussion over a late night beer or coffee.

The days of the village welcoming the warrior back home are still possible. The village is now virtual and comprised of veterans. This past year I changed my profile picture on FB to a photo of me in my dress blues. I later noticed my news feed filled with dozens of profile picture updates. Fellow warriors were changing their profile pictures to high speed photos of them kitted up, wearing their dress uniform, or busting a pose in front of a Black Hawk. We do this because we’re proud of our service. We do this because other veterans are proud of our service. And we do this to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters to cope with. We may be hard to find in the real world, but we’re all discoverable and accessible in the virtual world.

I challenge all warriors to reflect on how they can welcome a warrior back to our village. We’ve been fighting for over a decade. We all have suffered, lost brothers and sisters, many have physical wounds, and we all have emotional wounds. We understand each other. We can’t sit around and wait for the government to do something for us and we can’t count on an organization to solve our problems. We all have the power to have a direct impact on a warrior. That’s something worth living for.

Anthony

Spend Less Time on Veteran Resumes and More on Getting Life Situated

Veteran resume writing can be tedious. It can also be expensive if you outsource, upwards to $2,500 for custom written veteran resumes. If you google “tips on preparing a veteran resume” you’ll find thousands of conflicting pieces of advice. If you ask a buddy for help, they’ll more than likely have gone through the same revolving door of resources with little substantial, meaningful outcome. So where is the real start and how do you know the best way to spend the right amount of time on a resume without letting it overshadow the rest of the checklist as you transition from active duty status?

Your veteran resume should be a quick capture of your organizational skills, your preparedness, your experience, and function as your vessel to market yourself. It is an example of your value as an employee to a potential employer and your ability to thrive in any job setting. Sounds easy, right? Truth: It’s hard to explain 5, 10, 15, 30 years of experience in ANY job in a concise, organized manner. Add in the expertise and intensive training and job experiences of soldiers, sailors, or marines and you’ve taken job translation to a whole new level.

SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER?

This sub-standard experience for veteran resumes was the catalyst for Purepost. Our CEO and Co-founder, Anthony Garcia, experienced exactly what most veterans experience: frustration and time suck during a very critical transition period. He had a fellow veteran and his father assist in translating his military service to private sector understanding. He admits he would have been completely lost without their assistance. The process involved digging up old OERs/NCOERs, looking at past assignments, and focused reflection on career experience.

As he reached out and started talking to others transitioning about this experience, he noted that assistance from other warriors who have made the similar transition successfully provides validation that what you did while serving can translate to the private sector. It helps you to understand how you can contribute after service and what possible gaps need to be filled through education and training to be successful. But all of that could be done for service members in a more productive and automated fashion.

Years of behavioral science and skill based translations have fueled Pirepost’s automated resume service. Kickstarting your transition with an automated resume will save you time and resources and ultimately connect you into the network of job opportunities you need to be successful. Spend time on the family transition, the medical paperwork, the interviews and job opportunities. Don’t waste unneeded time on rigorous resume work when the muscle has been done for you.

Begin your translation experience here today – with a Purepost professional profile and free resume.

3 Steps to Building a Network

During my transition from active duty, I attended many career events and transition seminars that stressed the importance of networking and making connections. I didn’t heed this advice. At first, I felt my ability to network was proven during my time in the military as I built relationships easily with peers and members of various battalion and bridge staff sections. In the military realm, these relationships helped me quickly obtain supplies that I required for mission success or sped up the processing time for random paperwork. However, I quickly learned that networking in the military and networking in the corporate world are two different animals. I should have paid attention to those speakers. So to save you a little time and lessons hard learned, let’s breakdown the basics of networking outside of the military:

Social Network: This network is your family and friends. The people who provide the emotional and moral support required as you enter this new phase of your life. Regardless of your experiences in the military, leaving a job with an almost guaranteed paycheck on the 1st and 15th of the month is stressful as you look for your next job in an uncertain market. This is even truer if you did not adequately plan your finances to cover your expenses between departing the military and landing your next job (more on this in a future post). A well established social network of family and friends will be there to help support you during these times. 

Professional Network: Individuals focused on matters of business. These individuals can serve as mentors and help navigate you through your transition as you search for and/or prepare for entry into a new industry. The most well known professional networking tool is LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers itself as an excellent source for finding people who are already established in your desired industry. Fostering relationships with those individuals can give you valuable insight into the industry, market, and connections. Building up this network not only helps prepare you for your new job but it can also open up new opportunities in the future. For example, someone within your professional network can introduce you to job openings that only an “insider” would know about and you would not hear of it otherwise. This network can also direct you towards classes or skills that you need to develop in order to be successful in your new job.

Organizational Network: Organizations, trade groups, and professional associations related to your interested profession. This network avenue is excellent for learning the current and future state of the industry. By tapping into your organizational network you will be able to learn the intricate details of your industry, its best practices, and understand the future challenges and changes that will impact the industry and your job. I recommend that you join industry related groups on LinkedIn, following their social media feeds, and when ready join their organizations allowing you access to their publications and insights. Additionally, attending industry forums and seminars will provide you great insight into your industry and new technologies about to enter the market.

Networking is an essential component of your transition to best prepare you for your new role in civilian life. Building your support structure and network prior to transition will greatly assist you as you weigh your options and decide on the correct path for you – entering the work force, enrolling in school, or even starting your own business. Your balanced network will help guide you, ensuring that you are making informed decisions and setting yourself and/or your family up for success.

– Anthony

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