Over the last year, I’ve worked closely with our Supply Chain leaders across the country to discover and hire great talent. Through this collaboration, I learned some of our most successful hires have transitioned directly from the military into civilian roles at Spreetail. I spent time with members from our Inventory, Fulfillment, and People & Culture teams to learn more about their previous experience, how it relates to their new roles, and how we can continue to support their passion for serving our country.
What were the biggest challenges for you going from a military career to a civilian career?
- James Peoples: One of my biggest challenges was being able to disconnect from work. For my job in the military, there was no real “time off.” I would get calls at 2-3am and have to make choices that were literally life and death decisions. Very rarely was there something that could “wait until tomorrow” or could wait until I came back from vacation. I did not have an "off” switch. I quickly learned from my civilian mentors that some things can wait. The sense of urgency, although present, was not always as intense as I was used to experiencing. I learned to disconnect, prioritize tasks, and still accomplish the mission with high efficiency.
Were there any resources you leveraged to help prepare you for your transition?
- Josh: I used HireHeros to fine tune my resume, and LinkedIn for networking was my part time job!
What resources or information did Spreetail provide to make the transition smoother for you?
- Adam: Spreetail has been able to work with my National Guard schedule since I started. I tell my supervisors the days I need off for training and they always go out of their way to accommodate.
- James: Spreetail accepted me as I am. Quirks, idiosyncrasies, and my use of military jargon was not only accepted, but others began using some of the same language. It was also very helpful to find out that there were a few other Veterans that I could connect with, people who understand my background. Relationships at Spreetail are encouraged and have helped my transition greatly.
What are some skills you developed in the service that you have been able to translate to your civilian job?
- Josh: My skills in ecommerce are novice at best. I do understand flow, volume, and production at a core function, but I have a lot to learn. The biggest skills that I brought over you don’t, can’t, or won’t learn in college. My skills in leadership and problem solving give me an amazing ability over peers because it is instilled in veterans. Next, is the diversity in people skills. In the military you learn that every Soldier/Marine does not take simple instructions the same way. You learn how to talk to and develop inter/intra personal skills that give you the ability to connect with people. Last, in the military I was taught to always be honest, so when I introduce myself to an employee, I tell them I will always be 100% honest with them, even if it hurts their feelings. Because as adults we can talk and work through hurt feelings, we cannot work through mistrust.
What advice would you give someone that will be transitioning from the military to a civilian role?
- Josh: Take it slow, in the military we are used to everything happening in the “Right Now” speed. In the civilian world it doesn’t work that way and not even close. Second - network, I found the position I am in at Spreetail through LinkedIn. This was after driving from D.C. to Jacksonville for career fairs, an online job search, and military job search assistance. All I did was waste my time - if I would have spent more time networking, I would have saved myself a ton of stress.
- Adam: Not every task asked of you will have a training manual or checklist to reference. Sometimes you need to write the manual while doing the job.
- James: Have a personality and be comfortable operating in the “gray”. Life in the civilian sector is not as prescriptive as the military. You have to be more flexible, you have to build relationships, and ask questions. The OODA Loop works in the civilian world, not just the military: Observe, Orient, Decide then Act.
We’re eager to continue to grow our team with those who have served and those who are serving. I lean on James, Josh, Adam, and other Spreetailers to refer others and am grateful of their willingness to share their stories, knowing word of mouth is one of the strongest drivers for veterans starting their civilian careers. I’m thankful for all military members I work alongside, and for our current team members who are helping me understand how Spreetail can support them and future hires through this transition.
If you are a veteran looking to make the transition to a civilian career, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Talent Community team can help review resumes and wants to learn from you about programming we should be aware of to support you during this transition.