Season 4 Episode 149: Military Transition Q&A with Taylor Lau

On this episode of the Lessons Learned for Vets podcast, we bring you the first Q&A session of Season 4. Taylor Lau currently serves in Air Defense for the US Army and is scheduled to separate from the military in October of 2024 with terminal leave beginning in July. She is currently pursuing Sales Force certifications but is also open to working for a defense contractor.


What are the biggest pitfalls that plague transitioning service members as they make their move to the civilian workforce?

One of the biggest issues plaguing veterans is believing that people are going to be clamoring to hire you simply because you are a veteran. The fact that you are a veteran is valuable and so are the military training and skills you bring an employer. It is your responsibility to translate your value – your skills – to your employer. They want to know how you can help them and add value to their team. You must translate your skills on your resume, while you are networking and building your LinkedIn profile. Your marketing should be all about where you are going, not where you have been.


If a transitioning service member only has enough time to focus on one thing, what would you say that one thing should be?

Every transition is unique. With that said, having a focus is key to building a network. Tailoring your resume and creating an optimized LinkedIn profile are equally important. If you find yourself short on time, your first and most important step is to figure out what is next for you - not what is forever. Ask yourself what makes the most sense to target next so that you can leave the military and continue to provide for yourself and your family. Sit down and write a resume and fill out your LinkedIn profile that translates your military skills and showcases why you are qualified for that next role and start applying. 

Once you land that first job and have an offer in hand, keep networking. Continue to look and apply for jobs and explore any certifications that can set yourself up for the next step.


What traits or strengths would you say the civilian world looks for that maybe the military tends to find less desirable?

The value of soft skills is often overlooked in the military. There are skills that service members develop such as communication, empathy or getting a team to buy in that are valued in the civilian world. Veterans will often notice the value that civilian coworkers place on a work life balance.


As Taylor approaches the end of her career in the military, she is reflecting on her various roles and asking herself what value and worth she can highlight to a future employer. It is the responsibility of the service member to articulate the importance of each military job.


Taylor recently made a post where she compared the military transition to walking on a lightly frozen lake. With the reality of a new chapter ahead of her, Taylor realizes that she must confidently keep moving forward. She understands that the uniform she wore gave her extra confidence and that it is now up to her to make a decision on how she is going to portray herself without the uniform. One of the biggest realizations that veterans have after leaving the military is the idea that they have the freedom to change and to pivot. Unlike the military, you have the freedom to change jobs or move locations when you want. The military transition can feel isolating and lonely. While no one else can go through the process for you, there are plenty of resources and veterans who will walk alongside you.


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