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Making it Into Management - Why (and How) Veterans Should Go for It

Making it Into Management - Why (and How) Veterans Should Go for It

Transitioning from military service to a civilian career is a process facing nearly 360,000 U.S. veterans who leave the service every year. Once they find a job, working their way into management can be particularly difficult, but veterans have a tremendous amount going for them—if they can discover ways to display their potential to their superiors.

Here are some methods you can use to showcase your capabilities on the job ahead of applying for a management position.

#1: Become a Problem Solver

Real leaders don’t wait for orders, regardless of what you learned in military service. They plan ahead strategically for what needs to be done:

The next time you’re faced with a workplace challenge, don’t just tell your boss about the problem and wait for orders on how to resolve it. Instead, consider the various options ahead of time and bring him or her your suggestion for fixing it. Present the problem objectively followed by possible solutions, and identify one option as your recommendation.  

Veterans can apply the same approach to their own jobs, too. Look for new ways to do things more effectively; test the options available and present the best solution to your boss.

#2: Look for Management Opportunities

A good way for a veteran to indicate he (or she) is ready for a management position is to identify minor opportunities to manage teams and projects:

Try approaching your boss to see how you can help him or her with tasks such as training a new hire, leading a meeting, or preparing a draft report. Offer to help out with some tasks when the boss is away on vacation, or take up voluntary activities such as planning the company social outing. These efforts will help to position you as a leader and team player and show your willingness to get things done.

#3: Keep an Eye on the Big Picture

To be a good management candidate, veterans need a full view of the company to ensure they have the information to make the right decisions for each division:

Spend some time learning about the different facets of the business, to develop a good understanding of each area’s role and responsibilities. Even if you’re a seasoned employee, pretend you’re a newbie and study the company from the outside looking in:

  • Review the website and read up the vision, mission, and objectives.
  • Study the most recent annual report and any publicity the company has had in the past year.
  • Research competitors to find out where the company ranks in its industry.

If you discover an area of operations where your personal knowledge is sketchy, ask to shadow someone in the department for an afternoon to find out what their job entails.

#4: Walk the Talk

It’s important for veterans aiming for management to present themselves as professional candidates at all times:

Nobody is likely to promote or accept an application for a management position from someone who misses deadlines, doesn’t bother to answer emails and spends their time chatting at the water cooler?

Demonstrate a good work ethic by being punctual at all times, controlling your temper, and remaining objective even in trying situations. Be positive about your work and set yourself up to be a go-to person your supervisor and colleagues can trust. 

Once you’re displaying all the qualities of a good manager, you can apply with confidence for a new position or speak with your boss about that promotion you want. Oh, and of course, the pay raise as well.