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Using Informational Interviews to Plan Your Career After Your Military Retirement Thumbnail

Using Informational Interviews to Plan Your Career After Your Military Retirement


Authored by Joseph Brown, PhD

Transitioning out of the military can be a scary prospect after spending over 20 years in uniform! As you begin to think about what comes next after your time in the military informational interviews are a powerful tool you can use to ease your transition and find the right civilian career.   Not sure what an informational interview is or how to schedule and participate in them, don't worry - we've got your back.

Determine What’s Important

First things first, let's talk about what's important to you in your next career. Do you value job security, work-life balance, or the opportunity for growth? Maybe you have other priorities that are unique to your situation. Looking back at the best parts of your military career and what you really enjoyed doing in those jobs can help you zero in on what is important to you. Take some time to jot down your "must-haves" and "nice-to-haves" for your next job. Think about the salary range you want to achieve, how much time you want to dedicate to work, and where you want to live. This list will help inform the questions you ask and give you a yardstick to measure the career fields you are exploring against.

How to Setup Informational Interviews

Now, let's talk strategy. Networking is key, and one powerful tool in your arsenal is the informational interview. This is your chance to have a candid conversation with someone who's already working in your desired field. Don't be shy about reaching out to people on LinkedIn or through your personal network - you'd be surprised how willing people are to help.   Fellow veterans are a great place to start, and you should also not worry about asking others to help too.  

Here's a tip: When you reach out for an informational interview, be clear about your goals and respectful of their time. Here's an example of what you might say:

 "Hello [Name],

I hope this message finds you well. My name is [Your Name], and I'm currently transitioning out of the military. I'm interested in [industry], and I came across your profile on LinkedIn. I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to learn more about your experience in this field and any advice you might have for someone in my position. Would you be available for a brief informational interview at your earliest convenience?

Thank you for considering my request. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 Best regards,

[Your Name]"

Prepare for the Interview.

Remember, the key is to be genuine and respectful. And don't forget to prepare some thoughtful questions for the interview. If you need inspiration, we've put together a list of questions to consider asking during informational interviews [To download list, click here].

A word of advice based on experience: there a couple of questions/statement I love to wrap up with at the end of the informational interview.

  1. What else should I have asked you? (Or put another way “Is there anything I am missing?”)
  2. Is there anyone else you can think of that I should talk to?
  3. If you hear of any opportunities that you think I should explore I hope you will keep me in mind.

Follow up is key!  

Remember someone just donated their time to helping you and the least you can do is send them a thank you note.  I prefer handwritten notes.  If you get their business card during the meeting it is very easy to do since you will have their mailing address.  The note only needs to be three sentences!

Dear Expert,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me. A personal anecdote from the meeting that you found particularly helpful.   Again, thank you for your time, your assistance in making my transition to a civilian career is greatly appreciated.    


Your Name

Start planning your transition today! Figure out what you want, network like crazy, and don't forget to take advantage of all the resources available to you as a veteran. You've got this!

Military Finance are Different.

Transitioning out of the military is a process that most financial advisors/planners don’t understand.   In addition, they aren't aware of the many financial differences between an Active or Retired Senior Military Officer or NCO has compared to his or her civilian peer. That's why we think you should work with someone who deals with your issues each and every day. Use the button below to schedule a free initial consultation to find out how we help people like you.

If you found this article useful, you might like the following blog posts:

Leveraging a Third-Party Contractor to Land "The" Job

Finding a Home in Academia

From O-6 to SES

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