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Career Transition: Presenting Yourself as a Partner

A great friend of mine, Priscilla Archangel Ph.D., recently authored an insightful article titled “Supporter or Partner: 5 Steps to Engaging Business Relationships.”

Link to article:

The article highlights the differences in being a ‘supporter’ to a business versus being a ‘partner’ with it.

As you might surmise, being a ‘partner’ is often a more beneficial, advantageous, and secure position.

As always, Priscilla’s insights are spot on and value-adding to all readers.

The article notes several principles that are important to being a ‘partner’. Among these, two strike me as especially important for military veterans transitioning to the civilian, commercial work world:

· Understand the Business

· Build Credibility

During my decade-plus military career, being ‘tactically and technically proficient’ was a core expectation for everyone. We had to understand:

· the overall objective and all supporting objectives

· our mission and the mission of our adjacent forces

· how to do our jobs and often, how to do the jobs of those around us

We also had to perform.

In essence, we were expected to ‘understand the business’ and ‘build credibility’.

As you prepare for and conduct your career transition, I’ll suggest it’s important to take heed of these two principles.

Employers need someone that can do what they need done and that will fit with their team.

Only a small percentage of the population has ever served in uniform. Not everyone has a positive perspective of the military. Employers may/may not like/be positively impressed by your military service and/or your prior accomplishments.

Your task is to get in front of opportunities and present yourself in a manner/language the employer understands, and to positively demonstrate that you “understand their business” and to “build credibility”.

Doing this well notably increases your likelihood of being hired and once hired, thriving on the job.

Certainly, this is more easily done if you have direct experience in the employer’s industry, function, and/or markets. It is a bit more challenging if you come from an entirely different world.

So how do you do it? I’ll suggest:

Do your homework about the opportunity. (Know what you are getting in to.)

· What is the job? Deliverables, required knowledge, skills, experience, etc.?

· What is the company?

· What industry are they in?

· What markets do they serve?

· Products? Services?

· What are the company’s current results? Upcoming material events? Opportunities? Headwinds?

· Competitors? Economic, social, and other macro-level influencers?

Hone your message. (in a ‘language’ the employer will understand; not ‘milspeak’.)

· What do you bring to the table that answers the need?

· How does ‘what you’ve done’ apply to ‘what is needed’?

· How are you going to demonstrate that you understand the business?

· How are you going to tell your story in a way that builds credibility – in the eyes of the employer (remember, just because you lived it and its important to you, doesn’t mean it is relevant or valued by others)

Practice your conversation

· Find a coach, mentor, partner, ally, colleague, etc. who is experienced in the civilian work world (ideally one with experience relevant/similar to the opportunity) and get their input.

· Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

Just as you’d never place an untrained civilian in a critical military job, civilian employers are selective about filling their jobs with the best qualified people … those that understand the business and have credibility.

Put yourself in the best possible position to be that person.

Copyright 2019 William E. Kieffer

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