Success After Service: What Military Women Think – Part 3

As part of Hire Heroes USA’s focus on women who serve – and have served – in the U.S. Armed Forces, we reached out to a number of female veterans who are employed in the civilian workforce. We’ve already shared their replies to the first two questions. This is the last one we asked them to answer:








I would tell them not to shy away from what they believe they are capable of, to have and build that confidence to put yourself out there.  Don’t turn away from a job because there may be a qualification or two that you don’t believe you have, or even if you don’t have a degree.  Companies sometimes look for the whole person concept, and if you get in front of someone during an interview process you may be just the right person they’re looking for – regardless of whether you meet all the qualifications. Look for positions that are outside of your experience because if you get that position, it will allow you to learn different experiences and to have them in your “back pocket” when you want to move on. Sell yourself on LinkedIn, connect with people you don’t know and send messages to the Human Resources personnel of companies that you think you’re interested in or if you see a position you like reach out to them. Networking is one of the best things you can do to really set yourself up for success. Go to hiring conferences and/or job fairs, if anything just to network with companies and other people. Don’t settle for what may be the bare minimum of what you qualify for; you may be missing an opportunity of your lifetime by not putting yourself out there.  Believe in you!

SAS photos3U.S. ARMY E-5

Continue to be strong. Continue to fight. Strive for excellence but stay humble. Help each other to succeed. Celebrate each other’s success.


Try to figure out the person you want to be after taking off the uniform. Develop confidence. If you don’t have it, find someone who does and learn from them. Believe in the skills that you have to offer a potential employer. Believe in yourself. Just like we had to go through training to be an airman, soldier, etc. Training is needed to re-enter the civilian world again. Take every advantage to get some.


Not all jobs come from websites and postings. Network and talk to people! Your military experience speaks for you and people will want to hire you because of your military experience alone. I came across individuals through small conversations at appointments in waiting areas that asked for my resume because they wanted to help simply based on me being a veteran. I started job searching about a year out and I found a position that really interested me, coincidentally I knew someone who worked in the same area from my son’s football team. I asked him if he knew of this department and within 24 hours someone from that department reached out to me. I was able to ask what the job entailed, and tell them about myself. Unfortunately, they had to fill the position quickly and I still had almost eight months of active duty service left. While I was on my 30 days terminal leave, I received a phone call – from the same person in the company I spoke to months earlier – stating they had another opening and encouraged me to submit a resume. I emailed my resume the next day and within a week I was offered the job. If I hadn’t inquired months earlier and made contact, gave them my info, I never would have known the position was available again. Additionally, they never would have known about my skills and abilities by directly hearing from me, only through my resume.  I really believe it was the personal communication and my genuine interest in this particular job that led them to remember me and reach out again.


Be confident in the skills and experience gained, and start learning how to leverage your experience for future success.


I would tell them that transitioning is just a natural progression of life, whether you are leaving the military or moving from one job to another. Each assignment was a transition with new responsibilities and a new culture to experience and – as you know – this includes America. Treat civilian life as another assignment and learn what you can from the locals. With the internet we can learn what our next assignment and culture will be. Even if you are returning to your home of record, because you have changed, so has it. Share your experiences.


I would advise them to think about the skills they like – and enjoy using most – at their jobs now (leading people, organizing, analyzing data, looking at trends, etc.) and then align those skills with a job type. I would also mention:  my priority is on my home; my job is always second. I selected a workplace where I knew I could care for my family first. Tell everyone you know you’re looking for a job and the skills you like to use. Have a resume handy and announce it. Also, make sure you negotiate! Women rarely counteroffer on offers from employers. Also, listen to your gut – if you feel like a job won’t be a good “fit,” don’t take it just because it’s your only option. You’re highly valuable and you deserve to work for a place that you like.


When you are transitioning, it is important to remember that it is never too early to begin your transition, and asking for help is essential to your success. Find a niche, and figure out how you can use it to add value to an organization. Networking is certainly a staple of any effective transition plan, but the real question is how to get yourself in the right position at the right time.  Submitting 1,000 resumes and not receiving any feedback is a sure sign that you need some one-on-one work with your resume, or perhaps you could use some mentorship to help you clarify your goals. No one is the right person for every job, so having the right mixture of confidence and humble beginnings will help you realize where you stand and what still needs to be done to fill in the gaps. Never settle for a job that you do not truly want, just because it has the right price tag. This becomes apparent with your lack of enthusiasm and inability to hold onto a job that was the wrong choice all along. While it is often overlooked, culture fit is usually the difference between keeping a job for some time and quitting within six months. Visualize where you want to be, and make sure that the actions and habits that you do every day are in alignment with that vision. The habit of believing that your transition is something that begins and ends at a certain point should no longer be a part of your mental model. Realistically, you should begin making plans for either being in or out of the military concurrently, because not everything in life goes as planned and you never know when the decision to depart may turn into a reality. Communicate with your loved ones on the support that you may need, and try your best to help them understand that transitioning out of the military entails much more than changing uniforms.  Set aside your pride, ask for help, and when you are ready, prepare to give back to the same community that helped create your success story

SAS photosU.S. AIR FORCE E-5

Your military experience absolutely transitions to your civilian career, but you need to make sure that you can articulate how it does. I also think your ability to network within the civilian community will be essential to standing out from other job seekers.


Do not let anyone you work for mock your time in the military. If they cannot appreciate your time in service and training, they are not worth working for. Always look at the bigger picture, especially if you do not love your job. The transition is the hardest part and sometimes, you may have to take something less desirable to get your foot in the door and to ensure your income while working towards better options and careers. As they say: If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again. Think of the warrior ethos – I will not accept defeat, and I will not quit. There will be people waiting for you to fail so they can say I told you so or feel better about themselves, and only you can let them have that control over you. Walk with your head held high, stay positive and stay motivated – even when you reach a road block – and you will succeed.


Get as much independence as you can. Use Tuition Assistance and/or CLEP to take as many classes as possible. Get on job boards and research realistic jobs. Make sure there are applicable jobs in a given field before using your GI Bill benefits.


I would tell them to be confident in their abilities. Confidence in your brand will resonate with an employer during your 30-second elevator speech. I practiced the superman pose & my elevator speech in the mirror before career fairs to prepare me. Be open to relocation that fits your skill set. Be aware that you want an employer who cares for their female employees. I researched the employers that were rated highest for how they treated “working mothers.” I needed to find an employer that would value me and my need for work-life balance.


Lord! Have a drink and put your feet up! Swap your leader’s book for a brand-new notebook and make a list of the things you want to accomplish. Fully develop yourself in your NEW role and don’t let the past determine your future.


I had to work in a customer service logistics type job that put me in front of a computer for 12-hours a day, which gave me very little-to-no interactions with the customers I was assisting. I was not very happy and one day – out of the blue, – I received a call from someone who picked my resume out of 300+ resumes (thanks to Hire Heroes USA) and decided to interview me. The day after my interview, I was offered my dream job.  Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find your ideal job right away. It will happen.