So, for the first time in your career you finally get to decide where you want to live. Not where you get to live.
For those of you considering military headhunters (Orion, Bradley Morris, Cameron Brooks, etc.) they will all tell you to compromise on location and focus on “growth” opportunities (I used Alliance, similar to Cameron Brooks). If you are truly indifferent to location, then focus on industry, passions, etc.. But, if you, or your spouse, are excited about the prospect of getting to choose where to live. Or have been looking forward to moving back home or close to family, DO IT! Do not let the headhunters, or anyone for that matter, tell you that you have to compromise on location. There are plenty of jobs and careers out there for any major metro area. Now, notice I said any major metro area. If you’re from a small town, and that’s where you want to go, your options will be limited. But, for most major cities, there are plenty of options. So as you are making this decision, be honest with yourself about what you and your family want.
Military head hunters, and any transition firm, will tell you to focus on “growth” opportunities. Guess what? In any good company, if you work hard, there are plenty of opportunities to get promoted. Even in these “growth” opportunities, you still have to perform. These companies aren’t rolling out the red carpet for you. So while “growth” opportunities sound attractive, remember, you still have to perform, and in private industry, results are what matters and that is what will get you promoted.
I could write a whole series on how to go about this next point, but figure out what you want to do or what industry you want to work in. This could drive your location search. For example, if you want to work in tech, there are cities best associated with tech (SF, Austin, Seattle, etc.). If you want to stay in the defense industry, a common industry for vets, the DC area is your best bet. So while there are a variety of opportunities in any major metro area, different cities have different industry focuses.
As you’re researching different areas, or trying to decide what will work best for you and your family, remember cost of living will likely be a new factor. On active duty, your BAH often offset the the most significant aspect of the cost of living aspect of expensive areas. No more BAH. While you knew this, it’s different when it actually hits you. Your base salary is it, aside from a potential signing bonus or performance bonus.
This part of the conversation leads to my next post, compensation. It’s a whole new ballgame out there.
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