Transition from Military to Civilian Career May Take Time

Bob Kennedy served for almost 30 years in the U.S. Navy. His career included several notable accomplishments, including making the transition from enlisted Chief Petty Officer to Surface Warfare Officer, becoming commanding officer of two overseas bases, and being promoted to captain before he retired in 2012. When he returned to the continental U.S. after retirement, he was confident he could translate his leadership experience and degree in Business Management into a banking career. The only miscalculation he made was how long it would take.

Bob did everything right; he attended several networking organizations, including the Savvy Job Hunters ministry in Ponte Vedra and the CareerSource Northeast Florida Professional Network, a resource for people with four-year degrees and management experience. He knew that networking was important to his success, and that he needed help. “Moving back to a city after a 13 year absence meant I had few contacts in the area, which tended to hamper my job search,” he says. “Online applications yielded almost zero results.”

Paul Kennedy
Paul Robert Kennedy

Job fairs received a mixed review from Kennedy. “Even though I downplay the effectiveness of job fairs in general (and I still think their overall return on time invested is marginal), they did permit me to see some of the hiring personnel on a regular basis, which ultimately led to a job interview and job offer.” Bob was introduced to Bank of America through a friend and was able to set an informational meeting with one of the senior VPs in the Jacksonville area, and that meeting established a relationship that ultimately helped him get an offer. The meeting established Bob’s interest in pursuing a position at Bank of America.

He attended as many as five job fairs where Bank of America was represented and sought them out at each event. His initial meeting eventually paid off since his contact was able to provide the recruiters meaningful and supportive comments that eventually led to a job interview and ultimately a position offer. The final meeting was at the July 16 Paychecks for Patriots event held at CareerSource Northeast Florida’s downtown location. It was a crowded event, but Bob saw the same Bank of America recruiter he’d run into several times. This time, she had an opening that matched his skills. He had an interview scheduled within a week and was hired a week after the interview. That marked almost a full year in Jacksonville before landing a position.

Bob will be working with the Wealth Management Banking Support Team at the Merrill Lynch campus near the St. Johns Town Center. He will assist the Merrill Lynch financial advisors, providing Bank of America banking support to brokerage customers. It’s a great fit, and he’s excited about starting his new career.

What can you take away from Bob’s experience? One lesson is a marketing lesson: it’s called the rule of seven. The rule of seven is one of the oldest concepts in marketing; it says that the prospective buyer will need to hear or see the marketing message at least seven times before they buy. The odds of a single encounter (or advertisement) making a sale are almost nil. Most jobseekers think that one contact with a company or recruiter means they’ve done all they can. Bob’s experience proves that even when the candidate and company are a good match, it takes time to establish a relationship. Bob proved to the recruiter at hiring event after hiring event that he was interested in working at Bank of America and patient enough to wait for an opening. Even then, it was the luck of timing that put him in her path when she had the right opening.

Marketing – and your job search – requires more than a good product. It requires a consistent campaign, repeated at intervals, until the buyer is ready. Not everyone can wait a year for their dream job to open up, and Bob had opportunities to take jobs that weren’t as good a fit as Bank of America along the way. Your strategy may include an interim job, contract work, or part-time work to pay the bills. As long as you remember to reinforce your marketing message over time, you’ll eventually land the job offer; the numbers are in your favor.

1 thought on “Transition from Military to Civilian Career May Take Time

  1. C. Aglugub

    Nice article! There are different approaches to landing the different types of jobs out there. Often, those jobs that require more education and experience take a much longer time to find and land. The marketing/self-branding approach is definitely helpful as the article shows.


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