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Your Military Transition Professional Reading List

How are you preparing for your military-to-civilian transition?

Before leaving the military, service members are required to attend the Department of Defense’s mandatory Transition Assistance Program (TAP) training. This course is the starting point for your preparation, but it shouldn’t be the only item on your transition checklist.

Hiring Our Heroes recommends that transitioning service members take a 360-degree approach to their transition. Besides attending TAP, we encourage veterans to network on LinkedIn, to apply for a Skillbridge fellowship, and to research in-demand industries, military-ready employers, and books that will help ease the transition to a civilian workplace.

Here is a list of professional reading, broken down by topic, that you may want to read as you prepare your military transition.

Start Here: Books for Conducting Your Job Search

Even for the most experienced job seeker, the process for obtaining meaningful employment can be frustrating and exhausting. Fortunately, there are plenty of books available to help you through the process, help you grow and learn as you navigate workplaces, and to motivate you when you feel stuck. Here are three books that we recommend for transitioning service members beginning the civilian job search.

With more than 10 million copies sold worldwide, “What Color Is Your Parachute? 2020: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers” by Richard Bolles has been called the world’s most popular job search book. This comprehensive manual provides practical tips and advice on everything from resume writing to salary negotiation. Along with transitioning service members, we recommend this book to anyone who is considering a career switch.

The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster” by Steve Dalton offers a work-smarter-not-harder approach to job hunting. Dalton shows job seekers how to create a job search system that yields results. We recommend that transitioning service members pick up the recently released second edition. This updated edition includes advice on using LinkedIn, Indeed, and Google in your job search.

Another guidebook to help transitioning service members navigate their job search is “The New Rules of Work: The Muse Playbook for Navigating the Modern Workplace,” by Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew. Written by the founders of the career website, themuse.com, this book outlines the rules for building your personal brand, mastering first impressions, and how to plan your career when the path isn’t linear.

A Whole New World: Books for Navigating Corporate Culture

Veterans often tell us that they wish they were better equipped to understand corporate culture when they entered the civilian workplace. If you are looking for insight into this topic, add these books to your reading list.

Veterans know that they can’t manage their civilian employees using the same tactics they used in a military setting, but what can they do? In “Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean” by Kim Scott, readers explore a seven-step methodology for effective management in the workplace. If you struggle with how and when to give feedback in a civilian workplace, you’ll want to read “Radical Candor.”

In “It’s Personal, Not Personnel: Leadership Lessons for the Battlefield and the Boardroom,” author Col. (Ret.) Rob Campbell shares his insight and practical frameworks to teach corporate leaders about the importance of investing in employees. His book translates military experiences into practical lessons for corporate America and can help you understand how your military experience is an asset in the workplace.

It Isn’t Supposed to Be Like This: Books to Encourage You

Many military veterans feel frustrated at some point during their transitions. They question their decision to leave the Armed Forces and they feel discouraged during their job search. Many feel unfulfilled in their first civilian job and miss the military’s mission. If this sounds like you, here are books to turn to when you need a little motivation.

The Amazon bestseller, “Deliberate Discomfort: How U.S. Special Operations Forces Overcome Fear and Dare to Win by Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable,” has been called the ultimate book on leadership and self-improvement. Authors Jason Van Camp and Andy Symonds combine the real-life lessons of Medal of Honor recipients with scientific research to offer readers insight on overcoming challenges. Van Camp retired from the Army in 2015 after serving as a Green Beret and is currently the founder and chairman of Mission Six Zero.

Psychologist Angela Duckworth attempts to answer the question, “Why do some people succeed and others fail?” in her book, “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” Through a series of inspiring stories backed up with innovative research, readers will be left wondering why they ever doubted themselves.

Made Not Born: Books About Effective Leadership

Leadership is a soft skill that employers expect veterans to bring to their corporations. While service members are given amble opportunities to lead in the military, veterans tell us that equivalent leadership moments may be harder to identify in a civilian workplace. Here are books to encourage you to lead within any organization.

Using workplace culture observations and case studies, author Simon Sinek presents his theories on leadership and trust in “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Team Pull Together and Others Don’t.” For service members, Sinek’s recommendations may be obvious. But as you enter the civilian workforce, it is important to have a wider perspective on what makes employees feel safe within their respective teams and how to create an environment that enables excellence.

Unlike many fact-focused business books, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” teaches its readers about trust, commitment, and attention to results through storytelling. At the end of each scenario, author Patrick Lencioni provides exercises to help the reader relate the highlighted leadership concepts to the reader’s past, present, or future roles.

Reading is an easy and inexpensive way to gain knowledge and grow your confidence. By reading as little as 20 minutes daily, you can prepare for your military transition today.

The Hiring Our Heroes Career Community features free virtual training and leadership seminars to help service members plan their military-to-civilian transition. Register for new sessions on networking, virtual career fairs, tips for leveraging LinkedIn and more at hiringourheroes.org/events.

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A Program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation