Career Transition Coaching

Why Military to Private Sector Career Transition Is So Difficult

Military to Private Sector Career Transition

Comments from Career Transitioning Professionals

“After 27 years serving in the Army, I have never found anything harder than transitioning from the Army to civilian life.”

“I understand what you are going through, I retired from the Navy in 1997 and the transition was so difficult.”

“The private sector is not anything like the military and takes a little to get used to, but again it just takes time and patience.”

“I’ve sent my resume out over 100 times and nobody is paying any attention to me.”

Why Career Transition Is Challenging

These are the comments that I either see on social media or comments that have come to me directly from people who are struggling to make career transitions. Here are a few steps that will address challenges that exist in career transitions.


·        In the military, you may have had some choices with regard to where your skills, training, education, and career were headed, but you likely did not have total freedom of choice.

In the private sector, you can do whatever you want to do. Most people never slow down in their lives to figure out the difference between what they “CAN” do and what they “SHOULD” do. When you enter the private sector, this is your opportunity to finally focus in on what you “SHOULD” do with your life based on your unique giftedness.  People who make this investment find Clarity, Confidence, and Direction.


·        The work you performed in the military was likely called something different than it is in the private sector. You need to translate your language.

A 25-year non-commissioned army officer came to me looking for help with his career transition. In the deserts of the Middle East, he drove and guided convoys of supply trucks across the desert. These trucks carried supplies, vehicles, weapons, etc. While a corporation involved in trucking in the private sector may not be transporting tanks, they are transporting goods that need to be delivered safely and on time. I taught this military officer how to translate his resume’s language. Doing so led to him receiving calls for interviews for supply chain and logistics positions.

Leadership Paradigm Shift

·        In your military career, you likely led by command and control techniques. You might have possessed more stars and stripes than others. Therefore, when you laid down an order, there were people under your command who had no choice but to respond and take action.

In the private sector, 21st Century Leadership involves building deep, meaningful, authentic, trusting relationships. Trust must be earned. It is not mandated. In order to attract and to retain talent, 21st Century Leaders must learn to coach, inspire, grow, mentor, and develop employees. Private sector employees can leave and find another job at any time. A different leadership approach is required in the private sector.

A New Resume Strategy

·        You may have been taught to write a government resume that stretches to 5-10+ pages. In the private sector, you have a matter of seconds for a gatekeeper to find a reason to slow down to read your resume. You need to execute a different strategy to achieve a different result.

A clean, clear, logical resume that is built with the resume owner’s new audience in mind, wins. Most resumes are built with the resume’s owner in mind. This approach requires a paradigm shift to implement a different strategy if one wishes to achieve a different result. If your current resume hasn’t generated desired results in 20 tries, you’ll likely get the same resume results when you try 50 times and even 100 times. You need a different strategy.

This is a very short list built to demonstrate just a few of the paradigm shift challenges that exist when one leaves a military career to enter the private sector.

Jeff Snyder’s, Career Transition Coaching, Career Coaching Blog, 719.686.8810



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He Doesn't Know What He Doesn't Know



"Thank you so much for the Strengths coaching session. It definitely helps me understand why I enjoy certain tasks so much and don't prefer certain jobs.  It will undoubtedly help my job search and career transition.  

As I contemplate what I learned in the coaching session, I want to best interlink my strengths with new positions.  One of the things that keeps coming to mind is that I don't know what I don't know.  Where I focus to search is only based on what I know, but I don't know what I don't know or what I'm missing."

Are there career fields that you're aware of that might be a good fit? 


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Transitioning from Law Enforcement to Private Industry is Possible

The police officer called and stated that he was ready to move on to the next chapter of his career. 

I asked the police officer to describe the next chapter in his career.

He quickly told me that he didn’t have any idea what the next chapter might look like and he didn’t even know where to begin to find the next chapter.

I was interested in this caller’s problem.  In order to solve this kind of problem, two conditions had to be met. 

  1. Someone had to know how to solve the problem. In this case, that was me.
  2. The police officer in this case had to be willing to face what he didn’t know in order to     get out of his own way to receive help. He had to demonstrate a coachable and teachable spirit.  He got out of his own way, admitted that he didn't know what he didn't know and he asked for help.

Personal Strengths Coaching

Both conditions were met and a plan of action was established.  Since the police officer had never been in position in his career to truly make choices, we started with Strengths Coaching.  Strengths Coaching enabled me to show the police officer how he was built and what he ultimately has the potential to be great at when he aligns his natural strengths with his chosen work.

This step opened the police officer's eyes to possibilities he had never before considered. 

Personal Packaging, Branding and Marketing

We also addressed the police officer’s marketing, packaging and branding.  In this case, we worked together to build a resume that was designed for the benefit of the resume’s next audience.  The next audience doesn’t use the same vocabulary as the police officer’s current audience.  I taught him how to blend the right mix of technical writing, business writing and creative writing in a resume format that has opened doors around the globe.

Align the Resume's Message with LinkedIn's Message

In addition to the resume work, we also worked together to build the police officer’s LinkedIn presence to match his resume with a similar message.  Because the police officer was pursuing a career move, I taught him how to build his LinkedIn profile in a manner that would make it easy to find by recruiting professionals.

An Interview Door Opened...Interview Coaching

The police officer’s first success was an interview for an investigator role with a very large public utility.  While this first interview did not produce a job offer, it did give me an opportunity to provide interview coaching; something he police officer had never received before.


The police officer was and continues to be a great student.  The second job the police officer pursued was an investigative role with a public defender’s officer.  This time, everything came together and he got the job. 

Moving from law enforcement, government or a federal agency is entirely possible but there is a learning curve. You can either approach this learning curve without guidance and figure out what it takes to crush the learning curve by yourself  or you can fast-track your learning by investing in coaching that is proven to crush learning curves and deliver results.

Jeff Snyder Coaching



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