Walking the Digital Tightrope with Your Military Transition

Jason C. Anderson

For us Gen Xers, it’s difficult to describe exactly how much has changed since the mid 1990s when the internet was just getting its humble start. With digital information in its infancy at that time, who could’ve seen how the convergence of individual vanity and data-hungry Big Tech companies was going to end up?

In this article we are purposefully zeroing in on how digital information impacts your military transition. Because whether you are aware of it or not, each one of you transitioning military members or military spouses is walking the digital tightrope and it can have an impact on you getting a job after the military.

The two ends of the tightrope are controversial posting and digital avoidance. Both are treacherous and both are worth thinking about as you proceed with your military transition or military retirement. Let’s take a brief look at both ends.

Controversial Posting

Honestly, it was difficult to find the precise adjective to describe this kind of posting but “controversial” will do. Human beings are emotional creatures and social media was the perfect creation to exploit that side of our being. It was sold to us as the way to get people to connect—and to some extent, that remains true. However, we can all acknowledge that social media has more often than not devolved into short quips between sparring parties where nothing—absolutely nothing—gets resolved. A single post, absent context, whether it be 140 characters or more, is simply insignificant and yields few if any productive results outside simple emotion.

Some of you reading this post will fall into this category of controversial posters (and may not fully realize it). Here is the thing about controversial posting, particularly in this day and age: you don’t get the vote on whether or not what you’ve posted is controversial or not. Others do.

If you’re looking, you can see this on full display right now with our global cancel culture. And if you think that you are safe from scrutiny because your posts fall on one side of the political spectrum that is popular for the moment, remember that populism is cyclical. Yet your Tweet or Facebook post lasts forever—absent the context it had when you felt compelled to write it.

Too bad for you because your post-military employer is looking at your social media feeds—which means this could impact you getting a job. Why wouldn’t they? With just a few minutes of effort on Google, an employer can glean insights into you, their prospective employee. Your likes, dislikes, passions—and your (perceived) activism.

Digital Avoidance

On the other end of the tightrope are those of you in the military who’re avoiding putting yourself out there digitally at all. For some reason you’ve entirely avoided an interaction with the digital universe. Maybe you’re concerned about your posts looking controversial to superiors and / or future employers and figure it’s better to post nothing that to over share.

This end of the tightrope is every bit as treacherous as the other. The reason is that the world has fully embraced digital information as a currency. For example, companies have invested in digitizing their job search because automating the process saves significant money. Gone are the days where hiring managers and human resources individuals looked to paper to find talent. Instead, they leverage companies like LinkedIn and Indeed to seek digital information on prospective employees.

If you don’t have a digital presence, well, you are simply out of luck. Yes, there are exceptions, for example if you want to work in the family business or work for a friend of a friend. However, if you want to be competitive in any medium- to large-sized company, you are putting yourself at a significant disadvantage if you don’t digitally exist and become active in some form.

In our new data-rich world, having that digital presence is required—particularly if you want a job post military in a medium to large company. This digital presence takes on two forms—presence and interaction—and you need to be proficient at both.

For employment preparation, we recommend you use LinkedIn. With around 700 million users (majority in the U.S.) and 95% of Fortune 500 companies actively using LinkedIn for talent sourcing, this is the place to have your presence. In addition, LinkedIn’s platform and technology make it very easy to create a network—and then reach out to that network to fill valuable gaps in your post-military employment expectations.

Ah, the tightrope. Now that you know about the two treacherous ends, what should your presence be and what should you be posting, if anything?

PreVeteran Can Help

Your online presence—and more importantly your interaction with it—is critical to your post-military success. One of the major reasons is that a digital presence allows you to reach out to more knowledgeable people and ask them for targeted information to help you in developing your post-military transition plan. But like your future employer, the person you’ve reached out to may take a minute to look around at your online activity. Right or wrong, additional information guides decisions.

PreVeteran understands how critical your digital presence is to a successful military transition. It’s so critical, in fact, that we’ve baked this core capability into our first Employment Prep Course, which is available now on our website on the “courses” page.

With a little bit of targeted instruction, you’ll feel comfortable and confident using this critical tool in planning for your own, unique military transition journey. The PreVeteran way…

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