My Post-Military Employment History

Earlier this week I wrote about a post-military employment survey I recently participated in. The survey is designed to help the VA provide better veterans services by better understanding the employment experiences of recently separated service members.

My post-military employment history has been very successful by my standards, even if it did take me 6 months to find work after I separated from the USAF. Many readers here may not be familiar with my other website, Cash Money Life, where I have chronicled much of my employment history (particularly as I went through a job search and found a new job a few months ago).

Leaving the military

The most important decision I had to make was deciding whether or not to reenlist in the military. I was in a situation at my former base where we were deploying every other rotation; every other 4 months at the time. During my 6 years in the USAF, I went on 5 deployments. I had a great time, but there was a point where enough was enough. I wanted to be able to settle down and have a family.

I completed my degree by this time (I let the military pay for my degree), and my decision came down to applying for OTS, reenlisting, cross-training, or separating. The USAF was doing force reductions at the time and were severely limiting officer accessions from the enlisted corps, I didn’t want to reenlist in my career field, and there weren’t any appealing jobs to cross-train into. So I decided it was time for a new job and I made the decision to separate from the USAF.

I still miss the military sometimes, but I made the best decision for me on both a professional and personal level. I have since married my best friend and on a professional level, I have advanced further than I would have had I remained in the USAF.





The job search

I began my job search even before I left the military, which is a great idea if you know you are separating. The best time to search for a new job is while you already have a job. The most difficult part about my search was that I was moving across the country to an area I had never lived before, and I didn’t have a professional network in place. The good news was that I was moving to an area where there was a major Air Force base.

The job search took me over 6 months, and I ended up finding a job as a contractor on a military installation. This was a good thing because I had no desire to go back to being an aircraft mechanic. There is nothing wrong with that profession of course, but I had spent a lot of time working on my degree, and I wanted to use it. I also know that when you are the new guy on the job, you get stuck with the shifts no one else wants. I worked them all in my military career, and I much prefer working a standard M-F day shift.

Interviewing

The interview for my first job was interesting because I didn’t have much white collar experience. I had a lot of military experience and associated maintenance and logistics knowledge, standard Microsoft Office knowledge, and a few other areas of expertise. Luckily, I was applying for a job as an Air Force contractor working in the logistics area.

I was well dressed for my interview, and showed up on time. I was relieved when I talked to my interviewers and discovered that 3 of the 4 were veterans. We had similar backgrounds and I was a good fit for the job (even though I was not an exact fit and had never worked a similar job previous to this). I received a job offer 2 days later.

Negotiating

Salary negotiations are an interesting topic, and one that entire books are written about. For this job, my soon to be employers knew I had been out of the military for a few months and they made me an offer I thought was below market value. The HR rep I talked to said the hiring manager didn’t negotiate on opening offers. So I took it.

I could have negotiated but my theory was this: the opening salary was very close to the salary I was seeking ($2,500 off), I wasn’t an exact fit for this job, I had been looking for 6 months and I needed a job (this was the first interview I had), and I knew that once I had some more experience I would have more ground to stand on in future negotiations. I have since learned more about salary negotiation tactics and if I had to do it again, I would negotiate. In the end, it didn’t hurt me because I received a raise several months later that brought me up to the original salary I was seeking.

Moving on to a new job

Over a year later, I decided the job I was working was no longer a good match for me. It was time to move on again.  I began searching for a job while I was employed and I found two good matches. I went through two telephone interviews with them, then had a couplle in-person interviews. I received two job offers and had to evaluate the job offers to determine which was the best option was for me.




In the end, I accepted one of the job offers and I resigned from my first post-military job. After I resigned, I gave an exit interview and told my former managers why I was leaving. They made me a counter-offer which I refused. Accepting a counter-offer is not usually a good idea.

Future career prospects

I don’t know exactly what the future holds (that wouldn’t be fun anyway!), but I do know that the military has prepared me well for whatever may come my way. One of the things I have considered is getting an MBA. I haven’t decided if I want to go that route yet or not. I do know that right now, I have a lot of professional prospects and my military experience is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

~

This article was featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance #167 – Highlights from The Beijing 2008 Olympics.

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Date published: August 20, 2008. Last updated: December 15, 2010.

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Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of this site. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years in the USAF and also writes about money management, small business, and career topics at Cash Money Life. You can also see his profile on Google

Comments

  1. thanks for writing that article i needed that because i am trying to change job and i don’t really know which way to go. that was inspiring.

    • Hello Debra, Thanks for the compliments. There are always a lot of factors to consider when making a job or career change. I highly recommend reading different resources and talking to the people who know you best. I wish you luck in your search! :)

  2. Ryan, that was a great post. I am going to be looking for a another part time job soon (besides blogging) when I head back up to Boston, and the experience you wrote reminded me I need to get moving. Congrats on the new job!