By William G. Fitzpatrick
Have you really decided what you want to do when you grow up? Many veterans leaving the service are going through the process of trying to answer that important question for themselves and for their families. It’s not an easy question and the answers are not always easily defined.
Many of the 175,000 plus persons who leave the military service each year have planned their future fairly well and make a smooth transition to the civilian work force. Others wind up wasting important time. Planning for a smooth transition to civilian life by finding a great job requires serious goal setting. It is important develop a solid marketing plan to help in finding meaningful employment. You can’t develop a plan if you don’t know where you are going. Goals are as important as the plan itself. If you wait until you have just driven out the gate at 90 miles per hour, waving your papers at the gate guard to decide your future plans, you aren’t going to be very successful.
There really are only three professional goals:
Money – Location – Position
That seems easy enough. You ought to be able to find just the job you are looking for, at just the right amount of money and you ought to be able to live anywhere you want. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Most people are not able to realize all three of these goals in equal precedent, so some serious discussion and perhaps some soul searching has to take place early in the transition process. In order for intelligent choices to be made, each goal has to be examined with a sense of reality. Here are some thoughts:
MONEY. How much is needed, how much is wanted and how much are you worth? Are you trying to build a nest egg for the future or do you have four children to support and need specific income? Are you willing to work for commission-based compensation or must you have a regular check every two weeks? Two important points to remember are that no one ever got rich in America working on salary, and workers are only worth what their skills are worth in a given market place.
LOCATION. Many persons in transition are in to a specific city or town. This is generally driven by property ownership, spouse employment, family interests or simply because of a personal desire to live in that area. This can have an important impact on job opportunities and income. Understand that cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, or Dallas offer a lot more employment opportunities and much greater income possibilities than small town USA. You should also understand that cost of living tracks median income levels in most cases.
A problem that retirees face is the desire to settle in areas near military bases in order to take advantage of base facilities and medical treatment. This places them in direct competition with many others in the same career fields and skills, so job choices become scarce. Further, many employers in areas with a high density of military retirees sometimes offer less money because retirees get that check from the government each month.
POSITION. Deciding what type of job to look for can be a real challenge. Some important questions must be answered concerning specific qualifications an individual has to offer.
- What is the market for different types of jobs in a given geographic area?
- What level of experience in a career field can be brought to the new company? Are you fully qualified for the job you want?
- What do you WANT to do? Although many people know exactly what they want to do, many are still wondering.
Assets should be determined as early in the process as possible to determine what you are QUALIFIED to do. Remember, people don’t get hired for what they CAN do, they get hired for what they have DONE. Professional career counseling may even be helpful answering these questions.
Each of these goals should be examined and discussed with the entire family long before undertaking the job search. Realistic decisions have to be made concerning the relative priority of each and then a plan can be put together to go after the most important. There is no use looking for a job in San Francisco when you really are tied to Junction City, Kansas by your spouse’s employment prospects or by that home you bought in 1982. There is an old saying that states, “He who only plans is a dreamer……………..”, that could best be finished by adding, “but he who only plans without knowing where he is going, will never get anywhere.