Transition BloG

Transition Advice: One Bite at a Time

10 recommendations for successfully managing the military transition process and finding your next mission

Whether your transition date is a few years away or a few months away, it’s always a good time to start thinking about your next mission.

Mission Wisconsin founder Steve Janke is a veteran himself, but more importantly, over the last five years, he’s helped hundreds of service members and their families navigate the sometimes-challenging terrain of the military transition process. And through those experiences, he’s developed the following transition advice. From Steve’s personal and professional experience, here are his top 10 transition recommendations.

1. Talk it out.

Have a candid conversation with your family to discuss your shared goals for this process. This conversation is critical and will help guide many of the other steps recommended here. Schedule time to check-in throughout the process to make sure everyone is up to speed on what’s next.

2. Create a master resume.

A master resume is the “mother of all resumes.” It should include your entire professional experience in chronological order. In this instance, it does not need to be limited by length … put everything in your master resume.

“I know that some folks out there are cringing, but hear me out — this is the resume that gets updated every six months and that you can build targeted resumes from,” says Steve. “This is not the resume to apply for jobs, but it can be used an introduction resume to see if there is a skills alignment.”

3. Build a network.

This doesn’t mean carpet bombing a hiring event with business cards. Take time to truly develop a network that is engaged with you and is outside your current military circle.

We love the Jordan Harbinger Show – 6-minute networking course. First, it is our second favorite four-letter F-word: Free. Second, it gives you practical advice that you can start doing after the first of its 12 sessions and things to continue to work on that will help you dig your well before you’re thirsty.

4. Determine what type of business or industry sector you want to work in.

“Project management,” for instance, isn’t the answer, but it is part of it. Instead, ask yourself what projects you want to manage: IT, logistics, HR, manufacturing? At the start of the transition process, don’t get hooked on a job title — they vary too much between companies — but identify a line of business or sector that you are interested in. 

5. Identify a location.

You want to pick a location or locations of preference because you can then look up (using Google, ChatGPT or whatever suits you) a region’s strengths in terms of job growth, careers and economic sectors, which will inform the next step.

(By the way, the Great State of Wisconsin is obviously a top choice — because when you’ve said Wisconsin, you’ve said it all.)

6. Identify the top 10 or 20 businesses you are interested in working for.

From your location research, identify businesses in your sector(s) of interest that are located in your preferred location. You can find many great Wisconsin companies on our Partners page. Also, sites like Indeed can be used to search for positions in those companies and locations.

Once you identify those companies, small or large, or jobs you are interested in, do not apply for them unless you are within 90 days of your first day of work.

7. Get organized.

Without order, there is chaos, and we don’t want that in our transition, so get organized. We love the free resource Teal, an online job tracker. Add the jobs you are interested in into Teal.

(Teal also uses ChatGPT to help you turn your master resume into job-specific resumes. Once you’re 90 days out from your first working day, you can use this feature to craft targeted resumes.)

8. Get back to networking.

With some positions in mind, find, identify and connect with someone on LinkedIn who works in the field at the companies with the position(s) you identified. You can send a direct message via LinkedIn to ask if they would be open to an informational interview. If they agree, here are four questions to ask:

  • What is your day-to-day like?
  • What education, certifications, or experience did you have to get this role?
  • Can I follow up with you in a few months to discuss this further?
  • Is there anyone in your field you would introduce me to so I can learn more about this company/role/position?

9. Schedule time to transition.

You don’t need to spend hours a day on your transition, but you do need to dedicate regular time, at least 30 minutes a day, to working on the items above. (If you are on terminal leave, it should be 8 hours daily.) The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Transition is an elephant — make time to take each bite.

10. Be humble.

The process is tough. For you and your family, transition is a uniquely personal event, so reach out to people whose job it is to provide support through the transition process. Ask for help and know that there are tons of FREE resources out there — this transition advice and assistance is invaluable to the process. Here at Mission Wisconsin, we’ll help you build your plan and execute it. To connect with us, just complete this quick form or meet up with us when we’re at a base event near you.

It’s OK not to know what is on the other side of your service, but it’s not OK to pretend transition won’t happen or to put off your preparation. Utilizing these recommendations will help bring some order to your process and build confidence that you’ll find the next mission that’s best for you.