One of the biggest questions about getting a job after retiring from the military is, “How far out should I start applying to jobs?” But did you know that there are steps you should take before you even start applying?
Brian Henry, senior vice president of operations for Orion International and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran himself, shared strategies on finding a career after retiring from the military, in which he highlighted the need for identifying what type of job you want, brushing up on your social media profiles and leveraging your network. But when should you actually do each of these steps to obtain your dream job? Below is a suggested military retirement timeline for getting a job.
Start Engaging with a Recruiter:
2 Years Prior to Retirement
The best time to engage with recruiters, according to Henry, is about two years prior to your retirement. “This way you can see which recruiters are a good fit for you since recruiters specialize in different career fields, professional levels, and geographic areas.” Start to develop a positive rapport with recruiters who match your needs; that way, when a job becomes available, they will already know you.
At this point in time, you may not know what you want to do after retiring from the military, and that’s OK. But about two years prior to retirement is when you should ideally start putting the pieces together for your job search.
Define Your Drivers and Restricting Factors to Develop a Strategic Plan:
18 Months Prior to Retirement
About a year and a half prior to retiring from the military, you should focus your job search efforts on narrowing down what you want to do after your military career. Do you want to stay in the same field? Do you want to move to a certain city? Do you need to make a specific income? This part of your job search will require you to perform research.
“This is a great time to start looking at job postings to see what specific requirements are needed and what tools you need to add to your skillset,” says Henry. If you are looking into moving into the project management realm and you notice most jobs require a PMP Certificate, now is the time to get one so that you can align yourself with what you want to do.
Review Your Social Media Usage:
1 Year Prior to Retirement
More than ever, companies are using social media tools to find and vet their candidates. You don’t want your Facebook profile to be the reason you are passed over for an interview. About a year out, perform an audit of your social media profiles. Is your Facebook profile picture from your bachelor party? Now is the time to change it. Not on LinkedIn? Now is the time to develop your profile. Haven’t checked your privacy settings since you first created your social media profiles? Add that to your social media audit too.
Henry also suggests “following companies on LinkedIn and other social media networks to keep abreast of their trends and be one of the first to know about job openings. Set up a job search on LinkedIn to automatically email you openings that are a match.”
Leverage the Veteran Community, Have your Resume Ready and Apply to Jobs:
6 Months Prior to Retirement
“Your fellow veterans who have retired from the military will be one of the best groups of people who can help with your job search,” according to Henry. They have been in your shoes before. They know what it is like to complete a career after 20+ years and step into a new role. They are your biggest ally, so reach out to them.
At this point, you should have your master resume complete. Use that master resume to create tailored versions for each job you apply to. Also, send your resume to the recruiters with whom you have been keeping in touch. Keep a spreadsheet with information including name of organization, name of job, and date you applied so that you can easily refer to it when you follow up with companies.
90 days Prior to Retirement
By now you should know which types of jobs you want, so start applying! Within 90 days of your retirement, you should start having job interviews lined up. Practice interviewing with a friend who will provide you with honest feedback. Always send a personalized thank you note to everyone who interviews you.
The main goal is to progress forward and focus your search. You may need to make adjustments as needed throughout the months leading up to your retirement, and that’s OK.
Now that you have a better idea of the steps to take for getting a job after retiring from the military, make sure you prepare for other aspects of your transition.
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