Focusing Your Job Search with Jason Willett
Jason Willett retired from the US Army as a Command Sergeant Major. He went from a 24/7 job overseeing thousands of personnel to the “full stop” of retirement in a very short time. Though he didn’t need a job financially, he felt the stress and pressure of looking for a job as a transition checklist item. Through networking and focus, he landed a great role at the State of Washington, and was promoted within 3 months. However, it wasn’t the right fit for him and he felt the need to find his purpose. After a promotion and taking a demotion to manage veteran programs for the the state, he landed a great leadership role with Hire Military where he serves veterans and transitioning service members. Jason gets candid about his struggles and shares some great advice about what he learned along the way.
Some Episode 53 Highlights:
Almost every veteran struggles in one way or another at one time or another. You are not alone in this process and you don’t have to do the transition on your own.
Though on the surface Jason’s transition appeared to be very smooth. He made the decision to relocate across the US. He tried the “spray and pray” method with no success. That means he sent a very generic resume and created a very broad LinkedIn profile with no focus.
It is very important to figure out
- What you want to do
- Where you want to live
These two are key to focusing your search and building a strong network. Once Jason figured this out, he started doing informational interviews and building a local network near his new home.
He recommends taking some time off after the busy, stressful retirement process if possible. When Jason retired he went from being on call 24/7 to nothing. He found himself with no hobbies or personal interests. He recommends getting involved in a hobby. It will help pass the time and build new relationships when your military service ends.
Networking was the key to Jason’s job search success. He went into the interview with a direct recommendation from a networking connection. That recommendation convinced the organization to create a position that fit his background and skills, even though they didn’t think he was a fit for the job he originally interviewed for.
His advice is to not be afraid to go in at a lower level and then show them what you are capable of to quickly move ahead. Within 3 months he was promoted in his new role due to his performance and the diversity of his military leadership background.
Though his job was great, he found himself lacking motivation and decided to make an internal move to support veteran programs, even though it was a pay cut. However, he truly found his niche working for Hire Military in an operations leadership role.
Be aware that career progression in the private sector isn’t always linear. You might move forward quickly or you might have to take a step back to move forward. The private sector career path is very different than the military, so keep an open mind.
Finding your purpose is important in the job search process. The items you need to prepare for in your military transition aren’t always visible, checklist items such as getting a job. Your sense of purpose and tribe that you have in the military may leave you feeling lost and confused after your transition.
It is important to separate who you are apart from the military. You will always be a veteran, but you get the opportunity to figure out who you are away from the military. Taking the time to do this will ease the transition process. It is not in your nature as a veteran to ask yourself what will make you happy, but take the time to ask yourself this important question.
Jason talks about Hire Military, their SkillBridge and direct hire recruiting programs. There are more than 1,000 SkillBridge providers today. Hire Military has a 94% hire rate from their SkillBridge internship programs! Hire Military also has programs for military spouses and veterans. The company also offers the Certified Digital Networking Professional (CDNP) program.
Jason shares some key insights into the transition process:
- Have a plan. This will help focus your efforts and ensure that you don’t lose momentum in your transition process. There is no easy button!
- Figure out where you want to take your career and then network like crazy! Once you get active, your network grows and branches out, much like a spider web.
- Get out of your comfort zone and connect with people you don’t know. It becomes easier with practice and it will open your eyes to new possibilities!
- Sign up for mentors through organizations such as ACP and Veterati.
- Focus your job search efforts and focus on 3-5 job prospects at a time. Take the time to tailor your resume and reach out to your network in that organization to let them know you’re applying – before you apply!
- Keep building the network even after you land a position. Keep your network warm to take advantage of future career prospects and help other people in your network.
- Try to prepare yourself financially so that you have less pressure to keep a job that isn’t right for you!
Connect with Jason at: www.linkedin.com/in/jason-willett/
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