Transitioning Veterans Survey

The more we learn from the past, the less likely we are to repeat past mistakes. Transitioning veterans can learn from the experiences of transitioned veterans. In this post, I will provide a sample of findings from a veteran survey on transitioning. The survey is on the website military-transition.org. On the bottom of the website it reads, “This website and associated research study is being conducted by an independent group of veterans and is not affiliated with or sponsored by the Department of Defense or US Government.” The two people on the “who we are” page are Air Force veterans. Also, Vets2PM is listed as a partner organization on the website. I hope I am not stealing any thunder from fellow blogger Dr. Eric Wright, the co-founder and CEO of Vets2PM.

The survey asks a series of questions about the transition experience. It took me about 12 minutes to complete the survey. I believe the survey is good, except for the usual gripe I have about veteran transition surveys – they ask veterans who become full-time students the same questions as everyone else. I went directly from the Army to college, almost literally. My last official day in the Army was August 27th; I began classes about two weeks later, around Labor Day. Maybe I should not take surveys such as this one, as I usually answer the questions thinking about my transition from the Army to college. In any event, there are some interesting findings on the website.

Almost half of survey respondents said that their transition was “more difficult than expected” (48%), and 38% said that their first civilian salary was “worse than expected;” however, 70% marked “completely agree” or “somewhat agree” that their transition was successful. I assume that “completely agree” indicates getting a desired job in a desired location and “somewhat agree” indicates that the more important of a desired job or desired location was obtained, with the person being indifferent to the other. My advice is to ensure that you get your desired job OR desired location and temper your salary expectations.

Many people I knew in the Army said that they would get a job with the government or a government contractor after service. Only 32% of respondents said that they received a job with the government (federal, state, or city) or a contractor, while 48% said that they received a job with a non-government, large or small company. If you think that you will find a cushy job at range control, you might want to reconsider that possibility.

I am slightly surprised that only 47% of respondents marked practicing interview skills as “extremely important;” of course, 95% labeled it as “important, very important, or extremely important.” I believe that practicing interview skills should be the number one priority, possibly 1A behind networking, as the interview is the opportunity to “wow” the interviewer and win the job.

Only 51% of respondents labeled “establish a LinkedIn profile” as “extremely important or very important.” If you are looking for a white-collar job, a LinkedIn profile should be your number two priority after networking and practicing interview skills. Depending on your situation, LinkedIn may be one of your best networking opportunities; therefore, establishing a LinkedIn profile may be your number one priority.

Eric did a great job at explaining LinkedIn in a previous post; I will not go into details; I will only provide one tip. For the location on your LinkedIn profile, put the location where you will be moving or wish to find a job. Then, check the box so you receive notifications about job postings. (This is in Privacy and Settings; Communications; Email frequency; Jobs and opportunities.) The job postings you receive will be for the location that you will be moving to, and the hiring managers and recruiters in that location will see your profile. As more and more recruiters and hiring managers look on LinkedIn for candidates, LinkedIn is an easy way for someone to look at your resume without actually applying for a job.

Lastly, 66% of respondents said that being patient is “extremely important.” I also believe that this is extremely important. Getting angry and anxious about decisions not in your control will only lead to problems. Having patience is an easy way to make your transition less mentally stressful for you and your family.

For some of you, your transition will fall outside the norm (That’s how probability works.) It may be extremely easy or difficult. Additionally, many parts of you transition will be outside of your control; you cannot force a company to hire you. Always remember to remain calm, temper your expectations, and it is better than being shot at.


 

Aaron Hartfield served in the Army from August 2005 to August 2011. He deployed with the 19th Engineer Battalion out of Fort Knox to Iraq from 2006 to 2007, and then to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010. He graduated in May 2015 from Baruch College, which is located in New York City. He currently lives and works in Houston, Texas.

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