Your extended network of all current, former and retired public service employees as well as the professional staff that supported them learned at each juncture of their career the importance and meaningfulness of being part of the “public service family”. Your public service family connection(s), those who were prior to, during and since your career provide a myriad of networking connections as you transition to a career from public service to private industry. It is important to manage your time to develop, maintain and nourish a network of your trusted friends and associates both within your current public service agency and all professional public service associations you belong. As well, reinvent yourself with other State and federal public service and non-public service local State and federal agencies and military branches – leveraging your “strength of weak ties”.
All current, former and retired public service employees as well as the professional staff that supported them learned at each juncture of their career the importance and meaningfulness of being part of the “public service family”. Your public service family connection(s) to those who were prior to, during and since your career provide a myriad of networking connections as you transition to a career from public service to private industry. Manage your time and develop, maintain and nourish a network of your trusted friends and associates both within your current public service agency and all professional public service associations you belong. As well, with other local, State and federal public service and non-public service agencies and military branches – leveraging your “strength of weak ties” to reinvent yourself through your networked connections!
As an example, I am a FBI National Academy (FBINA) graduate, and also belong to the FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA) – an organization that provides a basis to identify and connect with 16,000 active and retired members who also have connections – the multiplier effect allows for a vast number of new connections just one level away. Your “Connective Power” provides you insight from others into current or near-future position openings and networking with them provides you with “Connective Intelligence” – those with it have a greater likelihood of success in attaining a private sector position. Your expanded network of other public service employees and their connections is paramount to you identifying and acquiring a position in the private sector.
STRATactically approach this aspect of networking. Prior to tactically engaging in actions to obtain a post-public service career, you must develop a strategy to provide the framework and direction. What geographic location have you targeted to seek employment? Is that your current location? Or, have you identified a geographic location that is appealing both now and when you finally make the decision to retire from public service and/or even totally retire? Have you determined if you want to work in large or small organization? Have you determined the specific industry – government contracting, commercial, non-profit, or entrepreneurial – you want to be employed? Does that industry exist within the geographic location you want to live? Within that industry are there positions available in the functional role, project or program you want to work? Are there specific companies that you have identified that are in that location, within that industry and have the position you believe your capabilities will transition well? Have you determined the probability of being hired?
Pragmatically utilize your “connective and intelligence powers” and begin to collect the data – you know the importance of taking notes and keeping track of your role and responsibilities when in public service – those skills remain beneficial.
First, contact those prior public service trusted professionals who have already transitioned from a public to a private career. Identify and reach out to them. Develop something as easy as an Excel spreadsheet to track your data and progress that includes the name of your contact, the company they work for, their contact information, their lessons learned in transitioning from public service, the date you make contact and future follow up contact dates and notes.
While you are engaged in the above, simultaneously build a new professional network.
Building Your Post-Public Service Professional Network
Now that you have identified where you want to live, what you want to do in the private sector and the specific position you believe your capabilities warrant, it’s time to join professional associations, establish a LinkedIn account, attend professional networking functions/events, volunteer at non-profit associations, establish relationships with recruiters – simply make as many connections in as many industry spaces you have identified as you can. Focused targeting of connections, professionally and socially, is a key discriminator in people knowing you are looking for your next career and knowing you have something to offer. You understand and know the benefits of building rapport – start now to strengthen your professional networking skills beyond those in or related to your current public service organization. Your public service career is a door-opener for hiring managers in private industry who have never had the opportunity to experience what you did daily during your public service career– most people will be fascinated by “your story”.
Where to start? As an example, you have identified Tampa, Florida as a desired location. You know you possess and have fine-tuned skills as a project manager during the last five years of your public service career – you found that type of role was both exciting and rewarding and you want to continue in that field. You know you are interested in working for a large private employer. Below are suggestions of next-steps in developing and building this network:
- Obtain a list of the top 5 private employers in Tampa, FL
- Review their websites for information regarding the company, their executives, there position openings in project management
- Determine who is on their Board of Advisors, who their executives are, and who their current project managers are
- Data mine all the social and professional associations, charities and other organizations they belong to
- Data mine all of their connections and do the same as above
- Join those organizations and attend their events – virtually or in-person
- Develop rapport with individuals first
- Soft sell your desire to obtain employment
- Establish yourself on social media sites, in particular LinkedIn
- On LinkedIn develop a succinct and targeted profile focused on your next career, using your current or former public service knowledge, skills and abilities ( KSAs) as relevant but not exclusive information
- Establish relationships with Professional Recruiters who are connected to the companies you have targeted and/or concentrate on project management positions.12.
- Data mine public information regarding networking opportunities, e.g., linkedin.com and www.contactscount.com
Just as you tracked your public service network, you need to also track how you are developing your extended professional network and include the name of the company or professional association, names of people within those organizations and their contact information, how those people are connected, what did you learn from contacting them, what do you need to follow up on and the date you make initial contact and follow up contact dates and informational notes.
Good Luck and Stay Focused – Your Next Position in Your Next Career is Within Reach! Continue Your Reinvention through focused Networking!