Veteran’s Perspective: Military-to-Civilian Transition Channel Your Humility into your AUTHENTIC Personal Brand with these Four Steps
By Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, USAF Veteran, CEO and Founder of Gracefully Global Group, LLC
Within days of leaving the active duty Air Force, I felt a sudden loss of self-worth. The decisive plan I’d created for months with my civilian husband’s support, gave way to negative thoughts: Would I ever receive another paycheck? What employer would hire this aircraft navigator and to do what? What am I qualified to do? My self-identity crisis (and associated anxiety) during the transition is too common.
I’m sharing the power of the FIRST things I did when I felt that loss. The most important advice I give to transitioning service members and veterans in subsequent transitions: surround yourself with a diverse and mighty network of professionally-well-connected military veterans who exited the military between one year and 30 years ago. Why? My mantra: “You will be successful when you surround yourself with people who WANT you to be successful.”
Veterans with vast networks of professionals across industries are best positioned to help you connect with people for informational interviews. They know recruiters. They get calls from people hiring asking if they know anyone who’s looking! They’re your HUMAN connection who can get your targeted resume into the hiring manager’s hands.
Speaking of info interviews, download a handy phone script: “How to Call to set up an Informational Interview” HERE. I’ve demystified this process so you can start building your tribe of veterans with networks; all steps you must take will feel less mysterious because you’ll have mentors, as I did. During my transition, two women veterans surrounded me with women professionals.
One thankfully guided me through a self-assessment to understand what I value in work. Don’t start randomly interviewing.Get to know yourself. Who are you NOW? These ladies introduced me to people for informational interviews and I learned about corporate functional roles. Connecting with humans FIRST (before creating a resume) is how I landed in Silicon Valley, straight out of the aerial refueling flight deck, in a global marketing management role with a European telecom tech giant. It was the role I decided to pursue after many info interviews…the role the no-imagination recruiter said I’d never find. Today I teach AUTHENTIC Personal Branding for Military Veterans workshops via an online course, video conferencing, or in-person on university campuses and conferences. I’m keeping a promise to those two women vets to pay it forward. I know it’s difficult to talk about yourself and your accomplishments, especially with strangers.
My goal is to turn you into an epic storyteller of your own differentiated VALUE in 90 minutes.
Step 1: Surround yourself with people who want you to be successful, like well-connected veterans. DO NOT HESITATE.
Step 2: Do a guided self-assessment to know your VALUES now.
Step 3: Communicate your VALUE. Get guidance to craft a powerful personal brand.
Step 4: Let us help you be known to other people. (Uploading 300 resumes does NOT achieve this; don’t do that. Start with step one; everything else will follow.
Find us in your community. Call a local company of interest and ask if they have a Veteran Employee Resource Group (ERG). Meet the ERG team lead for an informational interview. Maybe you have a LinkedIn account with a good photo and basic summary? Connect with me and mention this article. It’s a rehearsal for reaching out to veterans on LinkedIn so they’ll say yes and connect with you. We’re EASY to find there. Personalize your invite – mention something intriguing in profile. Please use these tips and PROMISE ME YOU WILL NOT work alone at this confusing time. Don’t go down that sad (even depressing) path. Get surrounded by well-connected veterans eager to see you succeed. Paired with your AUTHENTIC Personal Branding, your tribe will help you avoid feeling invisible. Let’s do this! See you on LinkedIn or via CaptainMama.com. The best version of your future self as a civilian awaits!
Graciela Tiscareño-Sato flew as an active duty Air Force KC-135R navigator and instructor for almost a decade, including combat sorties in Operations Southern and Northern Watch over Iraq. She was awarded an Air Medal before Congress lifted the combat exclusion law. She is a social entrepreneur serving both the military community with professional development content as workshop facilitator and school districts and conference organizers as a bilingual keynote speaker with award-winning literature that showcases the positive contributions of Latinos in the USA.