Transitioning to Civilian Life
By Beau Higgins
Military Recruiting Center of Excellence
Worldwide Operations Talent Acquisition,
As a military recruiter for Amazon I have the pleasure of talking
to veterans and military spouses of all different backgrounds
every day. Over the past 18 months that I’ve been on the Military
Talent Acquisition team, I have noticed a few things that I wanted
to share with those entering the transition to civilian life and in
search of the next phase of their careers.
If you are waiting to start your transition from the military
A Veteran's Perspective
less than 90 days out you are not setting yourself up for success. In
the military we go through detailed plans for every operation we
conduct and talk through secondary, even tertiary plans of action
in case something goes wrong (which it most often does). You
need to think of your transition in a similar way.
2) BE INTENTIONAL.
If your plan is just applying online to a few jobs in your hometown
or going back to school somewhere without a degree in mind, I
hate to tell you that there is not much strategy behind this plan.
3) USE YOUR RESOURCES.
Network with your friends from high school, college or the old
neighborhood. You never know how those folks may be able to
help when it is your time to transition. Stay engaged with a life
external to the military, many veterans I talk to have become
uncomfortable in civilian settings over time.
4) ALWAYS WORK TO IMPROVE YOUR EDUCATION.
Get certifications that apply in the civilian world. Try and finish, or
at least start your college degree, if you don’t have one already.
5) PRACTICE INTERVIEWING.
You shouldn’t show up to your annual physical fitness test in the
military without practicing some beforehand. Same goes for
interviewing. If you get to the interview process make sure you
have done some practice beforehand. Set yourself up for success by
doing some research on the company and think about questions
before the interview even starts. As recruiters we are interested in
the questions you have for us in addition to how you answer the
questions we ask you.
6) KNOW WHAT YOU WANT.
One of the most frustrating things for a recruiter to hear from a
possible candidate is that “I will do anything, anywhere.” While
that attitude may have been acceptable in the military, that is not
an approach that will help in your transition. The more specific
you can be about the desired job or desired location you want to
pursue, the better recruiters can help refine your search. Applying
for 25 different jobs at one company is not helpful and actually
can hurt your chances because the company doesn’t know what
you really want to do.
The bottom line is that as a veteran you have the most important
skillset employers are looking for: leadership. Companies can
teach you the specifics of a job but they can’t teach leadership,
bias for action, and the ability to make decisions quickly.
As the leader of Amazon’s military talent acquisition team,
Beau Higgins leads an organization that is focused on hiring,
developing and retaining the best and the brightest military
talent available for positions within Amazon. Additionally, his
team is focused on developing Amazon’s ongoing efforts to
increase hiring of military spouses and wounded warriors,
to engage with multiple Military Support Organizations
(MSO’s) to educate transitioning veterans, and to meeting
Amazon’s pledge to hire 25,000 veterans over a 5-year period.
Prior to joining Amazon in 2016, he served for 25 years as an
intelligence officer with the Marines. This included deployments
to Somalia, Bosnia, 3 tours to Iraq, and 3 tours to Afghanistan.
He commanded 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and Headquarters
Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. Following his retirement in
2014 he ran operations for a fiber optic cable assembler for
two years. Higgins has a Masters in Business Administration
from George Mason University and a Masters in Military
Strategy from the Air War College
Want to comment or have any questions on this article? Email
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Jimmy Higgins, Beau Higgins,
Liz Higgins, Casey Higgins
Boys in front (Cooper Higgins
and Connor Higgins).
Running the 2014 Marine
Corps Marathon in Afghanistan
as part of Team Travis and the
Travis Manion Foundation.
36 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle Vol. 24, No. 2, 2018