What Does it Take to Transition to a New Career?
Sometimes the first career isn't the right one for you. Maybe the second one wasn't a good fit either. It happens.
Changing careers isn't easy, but unlike your military transition, moving into a new civilian career can happen on your timeline. And now, you have work experience to add to your resume.
To help veterans with their career transition, we asked business professionals and leaders for their insights. From developing agile leadership skills to mastering communication and negotiation skills, there are several skills you can learn to help with your career transition.
Use these 11 skills to navigate your career transition:
- Get Comfortable Taking Risks
- Establish a Professional Network
- Grow in Your Career with a Mentor
- Pursue Better Collaboration Skills
- Learn to Accept or Ignore Criticism
- Dig Into Data Analysis
- Master Communication and Negotiation
- Develop Agile Leadership Skills
- Familiarize Yourself with Accounting
- Strengthen Your Transferable Military Skills
- Make Yourself Visible
As a business professional or leader, what is one skill you wish you learned sooner to help with your career transition?
1. Get Comfortable Taking Risks
I wish that I had learned earlier to take risks in business. We need to embrace failure in our career paths. It is more important to experiment and try new things as a professional than continually play it safe. Growth does not happen in comfortability. Olivia Young, Conscious Items
2. Establish a Professional Network
Networking before a career transition can aid you in making connections that can help you land your next career. My networking journey began after I started working in the financial industry.
It was an uphill battle making connections and establishing my credibility. It would have been helpful if I had researched professional networking groups and events before my transition. The Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education is one organization that provided me with ways to contact other professionals in my field. Annette Harris, Harris Financial Coaching
3. Grow in Your Career with a Mentor
Working with a mentor is life-changing because it helps you understand who you are and what you want to become. Choose mentors who will give you the best insight into your current phase of life or career level. Once they understand your skills and abilities, they may put you to work on a specific task to see how well you perform.
The relationship between a mentor and a mentee must be built upon trust, honesty, and transparency. When you need someone you can trust, having a mentor as an objective third party is a great resource. After you've experienced life with them, you may want to share your experiences with others too, which helps you become a better leader yourself and provides you with a new perspective on life. Connor MacDonald, The Ridge Wallet
RecruitMilitary has teamed up with Veterati, Still Serving Veterans, and American Corporate Partners to offer mentorship opportunities to veterans, transitioning military service members and military spouses.
4. Pursue Better Collaboration Skills
Collaboration is one skill that I wish I had learned sooner in order to have a better transition in my career because collaboration is the key to scaling your business and growing your empire. No matter how brilliant you are or how groundbreaking your idea is, it will not see its full potential if you do not know how to collaborate with people to bring it into fruition.
If I had better collaboration skills sooner, my career transition would have been smoother and I would have had created meaningful connections right away. Brogan Renshaw, Firewire Digital
5. Learn to Accept or Ignore Criticism
Early in my career, it was difficult for me to receive criticism. With the help of a great mentor, I learned how a leader addresses feedback. He said, "You always need to consider criticism when you hear it. If it's accurate, be mature enough to make a change. If it's inaccurate, then you move on."
I wish I had learned that insight even sooner - it has improved my relationships with difficult co-workers, improved my leadership skills and helped me avoid some hurt feelings throughout my career. Logan Mallory, Motivosity
6. Dig into Data Analysis
Although it's never too late to acquire and polish your capabilities, one skill I wished I learned sooner is data analysis. In the era of big data, analytical skills are absolutely essential.
As more and more variables are being rigorously measured, becoming more quantitatively-oriented has quickly become a must to be competitive in the job marketplace. While I've caught up in this area, I strongly recommend to anyone looking to stay marketable to quickly shore up this universally desirable skill. Peter Bryla, ResumeLab
7. Master Communication and Negotiation
I wish that I learned how to negotiate sooner. As a leader, you'll have to communicate with staff, investors, vendors, and more. Negotiating a fair deal is crucial to being a leader. For example, negotiating with vendors can help get the company a better price on goods. Excellent negotiation skills are essential for building a successful career. Jay Levitt, Lofta
For many veterans, salary negotiation is an uncomfortable step in the hiring process. Here are a few ways to become more confident.
8. Develop Agile Leadership Skills
As a business leader, one skill I wish I learned sooner with my career transition is the agile leadership style. I just came across the agile concept two years ago, which drastically changed how I perceive business concepts, production operations, and even people management. With agile, I learned to let go of stiff rules and become more versatile and considerate yet data-driven. James Parsons, Content Powered
If you're in a leadership role, you've probably learned that it's a lot different than the military. RecruitMilitary's CEO describes what he wishes he'd known about being a leader in the civilian workforce.
9. Familiarize Yourself With Accounting
Doing a start-up would require you to be the one to oversee your initial financial status and cash flow management. To do your own bookkeeping would’ve been more valuable, not only in starting in business but also in daily life.
Fortunately, today we can now employ the use of accounting softwares that do not need financial experts to operate. Kathryn McDavid, Editor's Pick
10. Strengthen Transferable Military Skills
So many skills learned and honed in the military, such as communication, teamwork, and organization, are transferable to your civilian life and career. Compile a list of these soft skills and don’t be afraid to add them to your resume.
Also, consider the job you held in the military and what technical skills you may have learned from that as well. They may point you in the direction of your civilian career. Ryan Shallenberger, SEKISUI
11. Make Yourself Visible
For several years, I believed that if you put in good work, sooner or later it would get noticed, would get recognized, and would bring you the success it deserves. However, it took me a long while to understand that 'making yourself visible' is a skill nobody teaches you early in your career. I wish I had learned it sooner.
While you may have a lot of experience and knowledge, if you don't master the skill to stay visible (and your peers are composed of competitive professionals) you might find it hard to make yourself noticeable and leave a long-lasting impression.
To establish yourself as a leader or make a career transitions, first establish your visibility. Be intentional about expressing your ideas in online platforms and beyond. Make your ideas noteworthy and memorable. Be deliberate about improving, enhancing, and maintaining your visibility. Dr. Raman K. Attri, XpertX Research
One great way to become visible in a career transition? Be active on RecruitMilitary's job board. Thousands of companies are looking for strong hires from the military community. Start here.