Did you know more than a quarter million service members transition from military service each year? To those who have never served, transition may not seem difficult, but it is one of the most challenging life events for a veteran and their family. There is no single “employment agency” to assist with transitioning to the civilian world when our service ends. Choosing the ideal career path and role, especially when starting fresh in an unknown industry, is a very challenging journey. Navigating this maze can be daunting, so I’m humbled, honored, and fortunate to be in a role today to help make a difference for veterans transitioning – but landing this role wasn’t without its challenges!
Fresh out of high school in Brooklyn, I joined the US Air Force (USAF) in 1981 and served on active duty until 2012. That’s three decades of global work experience in positions of increasing responsibility with a single employer, the USAF, and I never, ever missed a day of work! When it was time for me to transition, I thought it would be easy. After all, I had served in the highest enlisted military grade, but I could not have been more wrong. Dozens of job applications went completely unanswered and disappointment quickly set in.
As my transition date quickly approached, I took an out-of-state job driven by despair. My first civilian job meant leaving my bride and two young daughters behind and finding a place to rent on Craigslist. Now, I was only a part-time husband and dad while sharing a rental house in Atlanta with my Army brethren who shared similar transition challenges. During this time, I saw my family on weekends and holidays while I worked to support them from afar.
After more than two years, a fellow Air Force vet referred me for a contract position supporting Hilton’s new military program, which at the time had set a goal to hire 10,000 vets by 2018. I applied, interviewed, and was hired in 2014. Our team went on to achieve our military hiring goal in just three years! Today, as a Military Recruiter, I have the good fortune every day of helping veterans transition and discover the opportunity that awaits them at Hilton. This amazing, nearly 100 year old company, founded by a vet, works hard to attract, recruit, and hire transitioning military, then helps them build lifelong, fulfilling careers in a very dynamic and exciting industry. After helping hundreds of fellow vets transition, here’s what I wish I knew when I transitioned.
- Lean hard on your personal and professional network- they’re there to support you!
- Find out what your family, friends and fellow veterans do and ask if they can help connect you to their current or previous employers. Our networks are so important – I found my current job at Hilton through a professional contact at my previous employer.
- LinkedIn is a must! If you don’t have a profile, build one today. Get started by connecting with me on LinkedIn. I’ll do what I can to help in your career transition!
- Articulate your fit, value, qualifications, and skills on your resume and align these to what is listed in the job description.
- Look for the right cultural fit. Your military service sets you apart and you should be proud of that. You want to find a company that values your service and will use that experience to help you grow.
- Secure a Mentor who knows the industry you seek to join and can provide you invaluable advice.
- Military Transition Officers, Government and non-profits like the US Chamber of Commerce- Hiring Our Heroes, Hire Heroes USA and Easter Seals can provide you guidance and support.
- Tap into community resources that were designed to help you! Veterati.com and ACP-Advisornet.org are two great organizations to get you stared.
- When service to your country ends, choose the location wisely according to where the job market would best support your new career interests.
It is important for everyone to understand that veterans are incredible assets for a company, and they bring highly transferable skills, experience and shared values – things like discipline, organization, problem-solving and teamwork. If you’re a veteran or veteran family member looking for a new opportunity, visit us at jobs.hilton.com/usmilitary to join our Military Talent Network and stay in the know about career opportunities at Hilton.