Rodney Macon Testimonial
Greetings ladies and gentlemen, I wanted to share my retirement/transition experience, with the thought that my experience might help a transiting service member get through the process with a successful outcome. At the beginning transiting/retiring can seem like a huge undertaking.
There is an expression that comes to mind. The expression I am referring to comes in the form of a question and answer; How do you eat an elephant? The answer is one bite at a time.
Transition/Retirement is a mission, and like any mission, it takes planning to be successful. Officers plan and NCOs execute, right. Granted Officers are primarily the planners in most organizations, but most (Senior) NCOs either do not participate or do not understand the
importance of it. However, in this case, that is neither here nor there. I know I am preaching to the choir, but this is what I gleaned from my experience.
Where to Start
I recommend starting your transition 18 to 24 months out. I do not mean stop working or neglect your responsibilities but start formulating thoughts and ideas. Get a checklist or write it out how you want to approach your transition. For example, where do I want to live, do I want to work, if
so what type of work do I want to do, how much money do I need to maintain or better my current lifestyle, how are my savings (3 to 6 months of income, TSP, etc….), insurance (Medical, Dental, Vision, Life, etc….). Also, consider the same for your family.
Start preparing your medical portfolio. Start with your PCM to get referrals for the areas that need further attention. For example, surgeries, x-rays, MRIs, sleep studies, etc…. Plug into your local SLF-TAP for dates that fit into your schedule. Consider attending multiple session to ensure you get all the information you need for your transition. Also, it would be a good idea to take your spouse because they might think of or consider things we may not. Be mindful that it is their transition too. In addition to SLF-TAP inquire about senior-level SLF- TAP. Not all installations have a senior level program, but if available, it is an excellent source of information for transitioning seniors.
VA Tips (Disability)
There are many schools of thought on how to approach this area. I recommend inquiring about VA representative in your area. They can help you with the preparation of your claim. Please do your research because they are not all created equal. Research the VA claims process because it
can be a little tricky depending on your location. They have multiple web sites and YouTube videos that cover everything from filing your claim to what happens during the exams. Start the process between 180 to 90 days out. The time frame for filing matter! I retired 1 Aug and will receive my first check at the end of the month. Lastly, on VA research, look at how the benefits apply to the area you plan to retire. Depending on the percentage, it could affect property taxes, parking, student loans, DV plates, health care, and vendor discounts, to name a few.
There are few schools of thoughts on networking and its effectiveness. In my opinion, networking is not a LinkedIn account, a group of people you have met along the way or an email group. Networking is an active experience/interaction with people who can effect change. My LinkedIn account has over 4000 people in my “network,” but only about ten can make a change.
People who can effect change are those that can put you in the right room with the right people (Hiring Managers, HR Managers, Recruiters, etc….). Also, mentors and mentorship groups can effect change. Pathfinders, ACP, CASY, Bradley -Morris, Hire Heroes USA, and O2O (IVMF)
are great sources and mentorship and other transition information. These programs are FREE, do not pay for anything. These programs will provide you with assistance in resume writing, interviewing skill, job referrals, certifications, and many other areas to help you and your family in your transition.
I realize that this experience is not the same for everyone. I believe that there are four categories: Those that do not plan on working, those that plan to work and already have a job, those entering entrepreneurship, and lastly those that plan to work and do not have a clue on
where to start. I tend to think that 90% of us fall into the latter category. I could write an entire paper on the process of finding a job. Like I alluded to earlier, you have to plan and prepare yourself for the process. First, determine what you want to do. Things to consider before beginning a job search; What industry do you want to work in, how is the current market for the industry, how much do I want to make (Be Realistic!), what applicable skills do I have that transition to the industry I want to work in, do I need additional training, when do you want to start and lastly where do I best fit. Just because you were a senior leader responsible for millions in property and personal does grant you anything, or necessary qualifies you for a job.
Project manager, senior manager, operations manager, or director are excellent titles and terms and sound great on a resume, but in the civilian sector, they may not mean anything. In my experience, generalized terms are considered vague or an indicator that you do not know what
you want to do. Research the industry and the titles that are associated with your skill set. Check your ego at the door and humble yourself. CSMs/SGMs are not viewed as the same as COLs and LTCs. Do not let anyone tell you differently. Of course, a CSM or SGM can lead most
organizations, but in many cases, corporate America does not view it that way.
Images of crazy, aggressive, over barring Drill Sergeants and senior NCO depicted in TV and movies is how many see some of us. Networking, mentors, and mentorship programs help with the tools to overcome most of that. Of course, it is up to you to dispel those myths once you get
in the room. Again, resting on the fact that you are where a senior leader will not get you a callback. Why would a company hire someone in their late forties or early fifties who has already had an accomplished career?
In many cases, you will have more experiences and education than the person that’s interviewing you. You will likely have more experience in the position of greater responsibility than that company’s senior leadership. Again, check your ego! Yes, the civilian sector is looking for service members to come into their organizations for many qualities and attributes. Service members are dependable, disciplined, can work under stress, and initiative just a name a few areas. Unfortunately, they are looking for “junior” service members because they in addition to those qualities and attributes they are pliable. Senior service members are considered in many cases, unpliable and set in their ways. Most of us have been in positions of greater responsibility 20 plus years. I do not mean to be negative here, but many of us have a false sense of security. We think corporate America is lining up for us. There are a select few that fall into that category, but that is the exception and not the rule. With that said, it can be done. I am a testament that the process works if you humble yourself and adhere to the steps listed.
I am not unique, but I humbled myself, and I got out of my comfort zone. I networked and asked for help from mentors and every agency that helps service members transition. Resume writing, interview technics, and placement services all played a part in helping me find the right fit. In the beginning, I was arrogant enough to think companies were going to line up for a retired CSM, but I was sadly mistaken. Again, check your ego and ask for help and work the process. Finding the right fit for you and your family is a job.
Great you have a job!
Let me start by saying that I am grateful for the position I have been placed. One thing I quickly learned in my job search, interviews, and offer letter acceptance no matter how much a company says our company is just like being in the military, it is not. Corporate America is about making money and how you can help them do that. Do not get it twisted (I apologize for the colloquium :o)); it is not about you; it is the money. Remember you are essentially starting you career over.
The medals, accolades, and passed accomplishment do not mean anything to your new employer. The expectation is for you to do whatever you put on your resume. No one is setting up your office or ensuring that you are integrated. Remember all the stuff the staff and others did before and during your arrival to a new location, lol.
None of that is happening. I sat at my desk the second day of work and laughed because I was thinking about who’s BUTT to chew for not having me squared away. Pay, benefits, software setup, badging, and many others you must do on your own. Check your ego and learn to laugh
because it is funny. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNf1pKRhay8. The military is set up and ran a certain way, and things are done based on customs and courtesies. Be patience; the company has its own culture. Do your best to conform to the way they do business. Of course,
you will see ways to improve but take it slow. Once you get over yourself, you will be just fine. Be careful when selecting benefits because they could have implications on your pay. Check with HR before you click yes to something.
There is so much more that I could have added to this, but the areas I discussed were the ones the affected me the most. Lastly, every situation is different. You must tailor the process to fits what is best for you and your family. There is no right or wrong way to get to what you consider
success. Thanks, and God speed in your transition. If there is anything, I can help with please do not hesitate to research out.
Rodney Macon, CSM(R), DBA, PMP