Season 4 Episode 152: Bouncing Back from Underemployment with Derek Moore

On this episode of the Lessons Learned for Vets podcast, we welcome back Dr. Derek Moore. Derek was originally a guest in Season 1 for a Q&A episode. Since retiring in 2021 from the US Marine Corps, Derek’s journey has had highs and lows, including a period of unemployment and underemployment. Today, Derek is the Director of the Joint Military Leadership Center at the University of South Florida.


One of Derek’s challenges during his military transition was relocating from North Carolina to Florida. Derek chose Florida for its climate but was unprepared for the lack of opportunities in his desired field. After experiencing unemployment for 8 months and unable to find leadership roles working with student veterans at area colleges and universities, Derek settled on a position in admissions and recruiting for a local private university. Within 3 months, Derek knew his job was not a good fit for him. It took him almost a year to find his current role.


When Derek was unemployed and underemployed, he made an intentional effort to stay in touch with his connections on LinkedIn. He encourages others facing the same reality to remain calm and patient. Consider expanding your job search range to increase the number of job opportunities.


In his director role, Derek oversees the ROTC program that includes Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force. He serves as the conduit between the university and the military branches, ensuring that students are successful with both their military and university commitments. Derek uses his military leadership skills and experience in his current role to serve students. Underemployment is one of the biggest issues that veterans face in their post military career. Whether a person is underutilized, undervalued or underpaid, underemployment can be discouraging and frustrating. Keep looking for opportunities that make you feel valued and useful.


Sometimes the first job a veteran is offered after leaving the military is a dream job. Other times, that first job is nothing more than a paycheck. There is nothing wrong with accepting a job and continuing to look for a better fit. For Derek, he took his first job without having done the work of translating his military skills on his resume. After seeking professional help on his resume to help him translate his skills, he noticed more employers reaching out to him. If you choose to write your own resume, you must convey the value of what you did in the military to the employer.


Derek credits LinkedIn for his large network. Once he got over the initial discomfort of reaching out to strangers to ask for informational interviews, Derek learned how to lean into his network to learn more about careers in higher education. In addition, he created content and commented on posts to share his knowledge and skills.


Derek encourages service members to make their education plan while they are still serving. Take advantage of tuition assistance and credentialing assistance. Research the field you want to enter and learn what education you need to be competitive in the job search process.


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