Retired officer lands job by learning market value
FORT MEADE, Md., July 30, 2012 – Retired Air Force Lt. Col. David Jensen knew what he had to do to get a job after 28 years in the military, and it landed him the job he wanted at Oshkosh Defense as a manager of the company’s global purchasing and supply chain.
But Jensen’s successful job search didn't come easily, he recalled. It was the result, he said, of a good deal of searching, rewriting resumes and making a lot of repeat phone calls to keep his name fresh in the minds of potential employers.
Jensen was a NATO staff officer in the Netherlands when he retired in July 2011. He knew his chances of getting a job there were limited, so he examined where he wanted to live and what type of position he thought would best suit him and a potential employer. He and his family decided on Wisconsin as the place to live. "I could have gone anywhere," he said.
Before his retirement, Jensen, like other service members, took the Transition Assistance Program class. But he took it three times.
"Each time, different things were reinforced," Jensen said. He also saved up his leave to use for interviews as they arose.
Jensen sought help from the Department of Workforce development in Wisconsin, where he worked with a Veterans Affairs case worker. That's where he learned his market value so he could look for the right job fit, Jensen said, adding that he also wanted to do something he enjoyed and be fairly compensated for his work. He found that a person’s market value can vary, from region to region and state to state.
"It is a daunting task," Jensen said of finding work in the private sector that was a good fit for him. In particular, he said, job hunting was complicated by learning to translate military lexicon into civilian-world terms.
"Everything changed," when he got out of the military, Jensen said, adding that the military has its own subculture, and he had to learn the civilian ways of employment.
After he decided on Wisconsin as his home, and what he wanted to do with his life, he said, he worked to find a job that matched. "I didn't want to work for a company where it wasn't a good fit for me and I wasn't a good fit for the company," he explained.
Getting his job at Oshkosh, he said, was "one of those good-news stories where you say, 'Wow, it works.'"
Jensen acknowledged that he became a little disheartened when job hunting took more time than he had planned. It took six months to become employed after he put in his first application with Oshkosh. But now, he added, he's a natural fit in his job and with the company, a Defense Department contractor with which he already was familiar.
"There really is hope for anybody out there," Jensen said of his job search as a veteran. "You just have to be patient, and you have to be persistent."