Retired Lt. Col. John Phillips of Atlanta, Ga. knows a few things about making the transition from a military career to a civilian one. After he served for more than 20 years in the Army, he began to work for Coca-Cola, where he is currently a mid-level finance executive and the founder of the beverage company’s Military Veterans Business Resource Group. Earlier this year, he published a book, Boots To Loafers: Finding Your New True North, to help those recently retired from the service make a similar career move.
Phillips discussed with Bill Hendrick of the Atlanta Journal Constitution some of the tips he shares in the book. “Always remember you know more than you think you do,” he says. “Also, if you’ve been the service a long time and been successful, you’ll likely have to work at first for someone half your age and who has no idea what you’ve done, and doesn’t care.”
Phillips outlines the three phases he believes each veteran will experience as he or she leaves military life: Transition, transformation, and integration.
One goal of the book is to build veterans’ confidence in their abilities to solve the less-than-dire problems they will face in the corporate world. Phillips writes on his website, “Many times in my civilian career I have come across a crisis, or what others perceived as a crisis, that did not compare to the catastrophes I experienced while in uniform. For example, no one has yelled at me, shot at me, or tried to blow me up since leaving the military. Instead, someone has simply spent too much money and is over budget or someone has not served the kind of soup expected in the company cafeteria and that turns into an instant crisis for some in the private sector.”
Phillips advises vets seeking jobs to start their job searches with vet-friendly companies, study the corporate culture of the business they are applying to and learn how to explain that the skills they built in the military will be useful in a civilian job.
“The people listening may not have a clue,” Phillips tells Hendrick. “And they might look at a resume for about three seconds. So you’ve got to spell out what you can do for them.”