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John Buckley

My first attempts at firing my weapon were horrible. Rounds went everywhere except where I thought I was aiming. Likewise, when shooting for my new career after military service, I sent resumes “downrange” hoping to hit some unknown target. They also went awry; 155 times.

As an Infantryman, I learned how a proper sight picture – the alignment of my sight posts, my dominant eye and my target – was critical to marksmanship. With it, I hit my target practically every time. Similarly, I learned I had to align my passions, my skills and experiences as well as my values if I wanted to achieve the new career for which I was aiming. It is paramount to have a proper sight picture on a new career, or your military-to-civilian transition efforts will fail.

To develop a proper sight picture on a career, identify the things you are good at doing and then find careers that match your skills.

These five steps helped me gain a proper sight picture on my career:

1. Get to know yourself. Identify your interests, passions and goals, and always orient on them.

2. Identify comparable skills. List your aptitudes and military skills, then match them to those in civilian career fields.

3. Research Potential Careers. Narrow down these career fields by ensuring they will help satisfy your interests, passions and goals previously identified.

4. Ask the pros. Network or conduct informational interviews with professionals in those career field(s).

5. Establish your target. Identify only those jobs that will lead you to your newly identified career.

In my transition, I realized I could not focus on getting a job until I had a career targeted. With a proper sight picture on a career target, appropriate jobs came clearly into view. Then, my resumes were correctly aimed, and my career targets started to fall.

Learn more about each of these steps in Koch Industries’ Veteran Transition Guide.

This excerpt was formed from Transition War Stories: Lessons from the Front Lines, a series of seminar presentations and articles based on the experiences of John Buckley, Manager of Outreach Strategies at Koch Industries. John is a retired U.S. Army Colonel who served for 33 years commanding infantry soldiers in combat and peacekeeping ops and directing two of the Army’s most prestigious schools.