Season 2 Episode 71: Military Transition Q&A with Eric Crist

Eric Crist is an active-duty Army Sergeant Major who will wrap up his career as a Command Career Counselor with the Army within the next few years. He is here to ask some questions about the transition process. At the same time, I take advantage of the fact that Eric is very involved in the career path counseling process to ask him some questions about the military transition from his perspective.

Question 1: What military to civilian experience gaps did I see during my time teaching the TAP program and during my 15+ years supporting veterans?

I recognize that TAP is a great program. However, it just scratches the surface for the transition learning process because it can’t be targeted to each individual and their unique situation.

Some of the common experience gaps include:

  • Profit and Loss. Though you don’t deal with P&L in the military, you don’t always have unlimited resources. To overcome this experience gap, focus on process improvements using Lean Six Sigma concepts. While you are not responsible for the bottom-line P&L, demonstrate that you have had budgetary responsibility and your focus on process improvements to save costs and improve performance.
  • Project Management: most people in the military have project management experience, but not everyone in the military is a project manager. You may need additional knowledge and training to be a project manager. You can make this transition, but you have to translate your skills and experience into relatable terms.
  • Leadership: The military does invest in leadership training, but that does not mean that you are a leadership expert in the private sector. Leading people in the military is very different than leading civilians. You have to recognize the differences in leadership style to achieve success.

Question 2: When should service members start preparing a resume?

The most important part of writing a resume is figuring out what type of job or career field you want to target with your resume. As soon as you know what you want to target, then it is time to get started on writing that resume. Start with figuring out what you want to do, conducting informational interviews and then researching the requirements of that career field. Taking time to do this will make writing your resume and translating your military skills into your new career field.

Question 3: How can podcasts or digital platforms help service members during their transition process?

Use digital resources such as podcasts and online learning tools to learn at your own pace and take advantage of downtime or commute time to expand your knowledge. There are many different podcast resources out there and you should listen to them all. Additionally, you get a year of LinkedIn Premium as a veteran, which comes with free access to LinkedIn Learning tools. 

However important digital platforms are to your transition, try to go beyond digital. Get out and engage with people face-to-face, whether remote or digital, so that you make strong, personalized connection.

Question 4: What would you say is the main struggle service members have during the transitioning process?

This is a question I have addressed in several episodes, but my main list is lack of focus, an unwillingness to take credit for your accomplishments and lack of ability or willingness to translate your military terminology.

I turn this question around and ask it of Eric as a Command Career Counselor. He has found that as he has been doing informational interviews, he is finding that his job parameters and goals in the US Army are pretty different than the same job would be in the private sector. Learning this has helped him re-focus his job search and expand his options.

You can connect with Eric Crist on LinkedIn at

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