Every transitioning veteran in my coaching practice wants to hear three magic little words from the civilian world: "You. Are. Hired."
But if those are the only magic words you are looking for during your transition job hunt, you may be missing some of your best opportunities in the civilian world.
Whether they are civilian or military, real people don't come right out and say they have a job for you -- mostly because they do not, in fact, have a job for you.
LinkedIn principal economist Guy Berber found that people are more likely to be referred for jobs by their second-and third-degree connections, not their first-degree connections. For military members in transition, this means that your work friend from three duty stations ago is not likely to have a job for you. Instead, your work friend's boss's sister-in-law is the one who has a job for you.
So how do you get to the person who has the job you are looking for? You listen for the magic phrases people say to you every week during your transition. These are the words you want to hear:
1. When are you getting out?
People ask when you are getting out of the military for two reasons:
1. They are sick of working with you and can't wait for you to leave so that they can throw a party.
2. They wonder if they are in a position to help you find a job.
Assuming it's the second reason, don't give the person chapter and verse about all the different factors that are in play. Those things do not matter to anyone but you and your stakeholders. Instead, answer this question with your upcoming date of separation or the date your terminal leave begins.
If you are unsure when you are getting out, mention a season, as in, "I'm thinking I'll be getting out in spring 2022." That gives your listener time to ask the next question.
2. What kind of job are you looking for?
I've coached hundreds of military members on how to find a job in the civilian world. Very rarely do I hear of someone who has a surefire plan at the beginning of the process, as in "I want to get into the BMW MSTEP program and get certified to be a mechanic" or "I'm going to do the machinist program at Workshops For Warriors and then on to industry." You can see how those are good answers.
Yet most active-duty members do not answer the question that way. Instead, they usually signal their unreadiness with one word, "Well ..."
FYI, "well ..." is a magic word killer. No one will start thinking of their second and third connections if you start your answer with the word "well ..." followed by 20 other statements.
Luckily, answering this question is so much easier than you think. Reply with a location and an industry, as in, "I plan to stay in Florida and get a job in the insurance industry" or "I'd like to move back to New Jersey and work in education."
Then -- this is the most important part -- stop talking and let the other person think through whom they know who might help you.
3. Why don't you shoot me your resume?
If you answer the first two questions successfully, you might get to the most magical question of all: "Why don't you shoot me your resume?"
I don't know why people in business phrase it this way, as if the resume was supposed to be a golden arrow heading straight at the target. But they do.
Consequently, you must have some kind of resume ready to send. If you do not have one yet, tell the other person that you can get it to them by the end of the week. Do not take three weeks or three months to put it together. Let the magic words be the goad that pushes you to get it done already.
Accessing the hidden job network is mostly a question of listening to what other people are saying and what they are not saying. If you listen for these three magic phrases, you are on your way to your next high-impact job.
-- Jacey Eckhart is a Certified Professional Career Coach and a military sociologist focused on senior military, spouse and veteran employment. Reach her at linkedin.com/in/jaceyeckhart/ or at seniormilitarytransition.com/.