The Career Coach: Moving to the Corporate World

January 15, 2013 |


Mr. Wolfe,

I have become frustrated as I look for work outside the military (I’m attempting to leave the world of government contracting as well). I have an extensive resume but each time that I talk with a headhunter they advertise one thing then say another. With my background, I have been working towards the corporate arena in the energy and chemical sector, and it is frustrating getting advice, and then having those who have given me that advice backpedal and sing a different tune.

I do need help and don’t know where to turn and which Headhunter would be the best to assist. 

Can you?



Sorry to hear that your transition has hit a rough patch.  Your desire to leave the military and avoid the government contracting sector makes it rougher.  Companies look for one of three things:

1. They will hire you for your experience.
2. They will hire you for your potential.
3. They will hire you for a combination of both.  

It is easiest to get hired for your experience, if that experience is in demand and directly related to the job. That is typically why the contractors hire people. It is harder to get hired for your potential, because what you are selling is a crystal ball: what will you do for the company once you are hired? The combo is typically your best bet. Getting hired partly for your experience allows you to add value quickly, but your growth potential is also part of the deal.  

Four recommendations for you:

1) reconsider your desire to avoid contractors.
2) Find a different headhunter.
3) Re-write your resume so that your experience is presented in such a way that it indicates potential.  
4) Read my book; a big chunk of it focuses on recommendations 1, 2, & 3.  


Tom Wolfe
Author, Columnist, Career Coach, Veteran
OUT OF UNIFORM: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition

About Ho Lin

Ho Lin is an editor at His interests include naval history, the New York football Giants, and loud rock music.

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