Season 3 Episode 114: Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable with William Wunschel

William Wunschel is currently in the process of retiring from the United States Air Force as a senior maintenance officer. Over the course of his 20 years in the military, Bill has held leadership positions at the tactical, strategic and headquarters levels. He began his terminal leave in early February, with an official retirement date of June 2023. Over the past several weeks, Bill has narrowed his search to program management positions and tailored his resume accordingly. In addition, he is an active contributor on LinkedIn and continues to build his network.

Until recently, Bill has always had a small, close network of people that he relies on and trusts. His close relationships worked for him prior to joining the military and while he was serving in the military. Bill assumed that the same, small network would work for him after the military and help him land a new career. He believed that jobs would come to him based on his military leadership skills. During TAP, Bill completed his LinkedIn profile and let it collect dust. It wasn’t until former bosses reached out did Bill take their advice and start leveraging LinkedIn for his career search. In a short amount of time, Bill has interviewed for several jobs and received multiple job offers.

Bill recounts his first interview experience and shares his lessons learned. Assuming his military experience would be enough to carry him through the interview, Bill failed to prepare. He did not research the company or have examples ready to back up his skills. When the panel asked him, “Tell us about yourself,” he had not taken the time to craft a statement that showcased his value. Since this experience, Bill has learned to prepare for the unexpected and has talking points and examples ready.

Having gone through the negotiating process, Bill encourages everyone to always counteroffer. Research the company and use resources like to educate yourself. Think beyond the salary and consider extra PTO or fringe benefits. Know your worth and know what you need. Consider the cost of living for the location you are targeting. When you leave the military, it is up to you to manage your next career path.

To end the episode, Bill asks Lori 3 questions to help him smooth his own transition.

When it comes to applying for jobs, what percentage of qualifications should someone be aiming for?

If you meet 80% of the basic requirements, you should apply. Think about a job posting like a recruiter’s wish list. They know that it’s highly unlikely that someone will meet every qualification.

What are some common pitfalls that veterans experience during the interview process?

Lack of preparation. Remember the interview is not about you – it’s how you can help the organization.

The more information you can learn from informational interviews and research, the more targeted you can make your presentation.

How can someone prepare for a transition into the civilian sector after living a certain culture?

All servicemembers are taught to adapt to new cultures and environments. Know that it will be different. Approach your new workplace with an open mind. You are not expected to know everything, and there will be a learning curve. Have patience with yourself as you adapt to a new culture. If your company has a Veterans Resource Group, consider joining or starting one if there is not one already in place.

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