From Service to a Meaningful Career.
By Melissa Eisenzimmer.
Administrative Specialist, USMC.
Military Recruiter at Amazon.
First, there were thousands of other veterans in my same position, applying for the same roles, who were just as qualified (if not more qualified) than I was. In my first few years of job seeking, I would have accepted any job that came my way. Retail Manager? Why not? I worked retail before my service! This approach led me down one path: a trail of rejection emails.
When I initially separated from active duty, I assumed that my service and in-progress degrees would lead to an immediate position at a great company. However, after a few years of taking advantage of the benefits of my GI Bill and applying to roles with no success, I came to two important realizations.
Then when I wasn’t competing for a role against another veteran, I was the only veteran in the candidate pool. All of my counterparts were coming from top HR programs and internships at well-known companies. Military experience alone wasn’t going to get me the opportunity I needed to stand out against a larger pool of talent with direct industry experience.
I started reconsidering my career path, I thought hard about what classes had excited me the most in school and a theme started to emerge: Human Resources. I switched my approach from looking for a job to looking for a career. I was able to turn a recruiting encounter with Amazon into a mentorship that changed my life. I am now a part of Amazon’s Military Recruiting Team, not only applying the principles I learned in my HR courses, but helping other veterans secure meaningful employment.
Looking back, there are three pieces of advice that I recommend to every transitioning service member:
Connect with leaders in the field you want to pursue, local and nationwide. Meet with the HR leader at your university or engage with leaders who previously served in the Military using the advanced search engines. Position these conversations as informational interviews to help you learn, and don’t have the expectation of landing a job offer. Continue to communicate with those who take their time to talk to you. These could be the people who introduce you to your dream career!
Research interview techniques and tips for interviewing for specific job titles you’re applying for. You can find great YouTube videos to get ideas, read through articles, and practice with friends or family. Take every interview invitation you receive, it is great practice!
Do not be afraid to apply to roles you consider yourself a bit overqualified for. By doing this I got more responses and more opportunities to network. Switching my focus from job title to growth potential made a huge difference in my search.
Most importantly, when you do find your next opportunity, make sure to help other veterans do the same. Today, I take every opportunity that I can to help others going through this transitions. At the least, I remind them that they aren’t alone!
Melissa Eisenzimmer has worked as a Military Recruiter at Amazon since May 2016. She is the proud member of a family full of Marines, Genevieve Curry (1998 – 2010), Bret Curry (1997 – 2014), Mike Rodriguez (2009 – present), and Joey Eisenzimmer (2008 – 2013).
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