Aug 21

What Message Are You Sending to Employers?

Vic Beck In a previous post, we addressed the importance of having a LinkedIn profile that demonstrates you are fully prepared for transition into the civilian workforce. This includes having a headshot in professional business attire, rather than in military uniform, so that prospective employers understand you are not dwelling on the past, but are focused and passionate about what you can do for a civilian employer going forward.

The importance of delivering the right message to prospective employers came up in a recent conversation I had with Navy Reserve Rear Admiral Vic Beck at a Capitol Hill networking event. Vic serves as the Vice Chief of Information and is also Managing Director at Burson-Marsteller, one of the world’s largest public relations agencies. I asked Vic to share his perspectives with Military Leaders in Transition.

VSB: Vic, many transitioning leaders remain unfamiliar with social media as a professional tool. What are the most important things to know about building one’s online presence and brand? Does everyone need an online presence to gain employment, even if working with a recruiter?

Beck: It’s important to understand how people get information today. Human resources professionals and people you meet are likely to go online soon after meeting you to search your name. What are they going to find?

An active LinkedIn profile can easily be the first thing that a search engine displays. And of course, your LinkedIn profile is written by you, so you are, in effect, controlling what they find.

Regardless of what you choose as your next career move, having an online profile that accurately reflects who you are and what you’re all about can complement your search.

It’s important to understand how people get information today. Human resources professionals and people you meet are likely to go online soon after meeting you to search your name. What are they going to find? 


VSB: You have said that understanding one’s audience and reaching them are two different things. How can transitioning senior military leaders apply this knowledge successfully during interviews with prospective civilian employers?

Beck: In a job interview it isn’t about whether or not you can do the job; they think you can, that’s why you’re in the interview. It’s about whether or not you are the right fit for the job and the organization.

Listen to the person who is asking you the questions and attempt to understand them. Of course, you have particular points you want to make, but you have to provide your answers in a context to which they can relate. The more you can identify and connect with the interviewer, the better the outcome.


VSB: What similarities do you see between your work in the private sector and your work for the Navy? What are some of the main differences?

Beck: There are many similarities. Senior civilian executives, like senior military officers, are fully committed to their organizations. Their drive, passion and commitment to excellence for their company is very similar. The biggest difference is typically cultural. All organizations, just like the military, have a distinct culture.


VSB: What’s your best advice for senior military leaders about to enter the civilian workforce for the first time in 20 – 35 years?


  •  This is an exciting time in your life and a little scary too. You are a military expert, not a civilian expert, but regardless, you have a great deal of life experience to offer any organization.
  • You bring a lot to the table, but remember that so do all the other candidates against whom you are competing.
  • When interviewing with all the different people at an organization that you meet (you will likely meet and interview with several,)  treat everyone with respect and do your best to make a connection with each person.
  • The best interviews feel much more like discussions rather than actual interviews.
  • Explore different opportunities and broaden your search outside your comfort zone.
  • This is a new chapter in your work life that you should approach with the same passion and commitment that you gave the military when you were an O-1.
  • Go get ‘em!








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