Transitioning from the military is filled with a variety of challenges that require us to travel down different paths than the ones we have become accustomed to on the inside. As we begin to look at civilian careers, we sometimes realize the many differences that exist between our military careers and our desired civilian careers. We realize that we must learn to sell a different part of ourselves. We realize that there are things we may need to change in order to land the job that we truly want. Ultimately, we realize that transition is a time to re-brand yourself for a new career.
Re-brand your Speech
As a Public Relations business owner, I often work with clients who want to reinvent their brand. Whether they are looking to relaunch an old brand or create one that will cause some buzz in the marketplace, the goal is to make something that customers cannot live without. When creating a new brand, my clients understand that what people say about it and how they say it means everything. Re-branding yourself for a new career is no different.
One of the things that sets members of the military apart is the way we speak. We use terms like PT, PMCS, CO, & NCOIC to define who we are and the things that we do. When I tell another military member that I’m PCSing OCONUS, they usually know exactly what I’m talking about. This is great while we’re in but it begins to present a problem when it’s time to get out and we begin to look at a career change or adjust to civilian life. The problem is that most civilians who have never spent time in the military don’t know what an NCOIC is. They’ve never PCS’d and they generally go workout, instead of doing PT.
Re-branding your speech means replacing your military talk with things that make sense to the people around us. This is important when writing resumes and going to job interviews. While most civilians may not understand what you mean when you say you were the Training room NCOIC, they will understand that you were the Senior Staff Officer in charge of all administrative and training for your organization.
Instead of saying that you briefed the Commander, you might tell them that you advised an executive level manager. Give your resume to one of your civilian friends to read. If they have to ask you what certain things mean, there’s a good chance you need to take some time and re-brand your speech.
Re-brand your Look
One of the things I loved about being in the military was the fact that I looked like a Soldier, even when I was off duty. I cut my hair like a Soldier, I walked like a Soldier and as we’ve already mentioned, I spoke like a Soldier. By looking the part of a professional Soldier, I knew it was the first step in people taking me serious as one.
When I got out of the military, I knew I would have to reinvent my personal brand in order to be taken serious in my new career. I changed my hairstyle, I invested in a new wardrobe, and I started creating the new me. It wasn’t that I was ashamed of the way I looked as a Soldier, it was that I now needed to market my brand to a different customer.
Re-branding yourself for a new career means re-branding your look. It means looking the part of the career that you want to pursue. Take time to research people in your industry and use it as a template for your new brand. This will help you determine what your personal brand should look like as you work your way into your new career.
Sell the Brand
So, you’ve spent time reinventing your personal brand by re-branding your speech and your look. The last step is to sell it. This is the best part because you get to decide how YOU want to market yourself. What are the skills that you bring to your new career? What makes you unique?
Now that you’ve worked on re-branding your speech, you can practice communicating your skills and abilities in a way that advertises your brand. Use your resume and job interview to sell your new brand as if you believed it was the only brand your new employer should buy. As a service member, you’ve gained a wide range of skills, now it’s time to sell them and the things that they allow you to do.
Personal branding is all about focusing on the things that you want to highlight about yourself. It’s about selling the skills and talents that make you successful to a potential employer who is looking to hire a talented employee. Take the time to re-brand your speech, re-brand your look and then sell the brand and you will be well on your way to successfully re-branding yourself for the career that you want.
Jamaal Wheaton is a recently transitioned Army veteran with more than 12 years of active duty service. He is the founder and owner of the Wheaton Group, a public relations firm that specializes in being a voice for veteran- and military-related issues. Jamaal currently works as a government contractor for the federal government and shares his personal experience of transition with the hopes of helping others navigate the through their own transition.
Looking for more tips on Personal branding? Check out “The Ultimate Guide To Personal Branding!”