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HBX Business Blog

4 Must-Read Tips for Career Transitions from HBX Executive Director Patrick Mullane: Part 2

Posted by Patrick Mullane on July 5, 2016 at 11:55 AM


In part 1 of this post, HBX Excutive Director Patrick Mullane spoke about his transition from military to civilian life. In part 2, he offers additional tips on how to make a successful career transition.

Tip 3: Network, network, network

Technology not only helps educate you but it can help you to connect with others. HBX has built peer help features into its platform and uses closed Facebook pages to foster cooperation, communication, and networking, so connecting to others happens while you are learning. LinkedIn is another critical tool. Next to the magnifying glass icon at the top of the LinkedIn home page is the word “advanced.” Click on this and you are given power to search the larger network with precision. Use the search area on the left side of the screen to find people who share common experiences with you. Typing my alma mater’s name into the “school” field and the abbreviation “Lt.” in the “title” block yields 80 graduates of Notre Dame that were some sort of Lieutenant during their career. You can do the same for job titles, locations, and the like. If you are transitioning out of the military, sending a note to fellow alums through the LinkedIn system explaining that you are a veteran leaving the service and are looking for introductions into a certain industry or region can be very, very effective. You may have to pay a monthly subscription to get some of the messaging features on LinkedIn, but they are well worth it to expand your network and gain the help and trust of others.

Tip 4: Don’t forget about your alma mater

Most colleges and universities maintain a webpage where recruiters can post jobs, and Alumni usually have access to these postings. Don’t be shy about calling the career development office of your undergraduate institution to see what sort of services they offer. If there is a strong alumni club in the area where you live or will be moving to, think about joining that as well. When finishing a meeting with alumni, ask them, “Who else would you suggest I speak with to learn more about [fill in your industry or career interest].” Phrasing the request this way has a way of keeping the conversation moving forward and increases the likelihood that you will leverage one meeting into others. And always follow up with a thank you note. While hand-written is always a nice touch, email works as well. But just be sure you do it!

Final thoughts

There will always be trepidation when making a change. And moving from the military to private sector, can, at first glance, look daunting. But rest assured that almost all of your military skills will translate nicely into the private sector. Brushing up on business fundamentals, resume prep, networking, and using your alma mater are not exhaustive steps to take in an effort to land on your feet in the civilian world, but they are foundational in many respects. Working on them while seeking the diverse opinions of others who have gone before you will increase the chances that things go smoothly.

It’s been 20 years since I left the Air Force and during that time I have called on my experiences as a JMO in jobs that were in sectors about as diverse as you can fathom: distribution, manufacturing, software, Internet, for-profit education, non-profit education, and telecom. In all cases, the foundation the military gave me was instrumental in making the right decision. Rest assured, the same will be true for you.


About the Author

Patrick Mullane is the Executive Director of HBX and is responsible for managing HBX’s growth and long-term success. A military veteran and alumnus of Harvard Business School, Patrick is passionate about finding ways to use technology to enhance the mission of the School - to educate leaders who make a difference in the world.


Topics: HBX Insights, Executive Insights