Personal Branding for Veterans

As the daughter of an Air Force veteran, I can recognize the struggles of transitioning from military service to the civilian workforce.  Now that I am the sister of an Air Force veteran as well, I thought it would be a great idea to share how personal branding can help veterans position themselves for a successful career.   

On December 19th I traveled to Abilene, Texas to help celebrate my brother at his Air Force retirement ceremony.  I am so proud of his 20 years of service, bravery, and dedication to protecting the United States of America.  As a veteran of the Armed Forces my brother’s next mission, and maybe his toughest, will be to successfully transition into the civilian workforce.  Now that he has retired from the military, it is up to him to distinguish his self from his competitors in the job market.  He will need to translate his military record into a strong resume that civilian employers can understand.  He will need to learn how to interview and present his military skills and experiences in ways that relate to the position and employer.  With this in mind, I decided to congratulate him (and inconspicuously style him) with dress shirts, pocket squares, and ties that he can use during future interviews with potential employers.  I also gave him some personal branding advice to help with beginning his transition.    

1. As a veteran you spend years, and sometimes decades, sacrificing for your country. Now that chapter of your life is over, you get the chance to start something new, fresh, and different.  You have the opportunity to focus on your talents and use what makes you special to impact your community, country, and/or world. Think seriously about you would like to do with the rest of your life. 

2. Next, take full advantage of the G.I. Bill to further your education.  I can’t think of an excuse for not getting an education in your field of practice when someone else is paying for it, especially when you don’t have to pay them back.  Nowadays you can go to school at night, online, and in some cases earn credits and certifications at your job.  If you are exiting the Armed Forces at a peak time, then a degree might be what separates you and another veteran from getting the job you are applying for. 

3. In the military you don’t have to think twice about what you are going to wear in the morning because everyone wears a uniform.  In the civilian workplace style and professional norms are going to be different depending on what industry you go into.  Some veterans look forward to this transition more than others.  It is best to research what is appropriate for your industry and position.  After you know how you should dress for the position you want, I recommend building your wardrobe by buying one quality piece each pay day.
 
In addition to the few tips that I mentioned above, there are other essential factors that impact a veteran’s transition such as resumes, networking, and social media. This can be an overwhelming process, but luckily there are many experts out there that can help you along the way.  After taking full advantage of your VA benefits, contact a personal branding consultant to help you make a smooth and prosperous transition.