When planning for your exit or retirement from public service to private industry you need to embrace the concept of “reinvention.” Knowing change can be difficult also know it is controllable when armed with the knowledge you need to reduce the emotional impact, determine your current financial picture and future earnings potential, evaluate the job market in multiple geographical locations, determine what type of company, non-profit organization or whether you want to be your own boss and do you have the business acumen needed to succeed.
Just two years from FBI retirement eligibility I realized I would need to continue employment beyond public service retirement, plan a reinvention of “who I was” and change to “who I wanted to be” which would change my world – and with two daughters’ college bound I needed to acquire the knowledge for a successful career transition in private industry.
My path to prepare for a career in private industry was a sound plan, but as I look back I was woefully unprepared – I was simply lucky. I have been fortunate to work for two government contractors, ManTech International and Homeland Security Solutions, Inc., and am currently the Talent Evangelist to Deltek, a global technology company, as well as CEO of both Eclat Transitions LLC and STRATactical LLC. I have experienced a successful journey with these companies from 2004 to present. I have learned the ins and outs of employment within private industry. There are changes you will need to consider to begin your preparation as you approach your next successful career beyond public service.
Change is both inevitable and controllable. The most difficult aspect of preparing for your transition is “not knowing – what you don’t know”.
The first piece of advice is to start preparing NOW – long before you intend to retire or leave public service. There is a great deal you will need to do to land a GREAT job in private industry. Preparing over time will reduce the stress and put you several steps ahead of those you will be competing against in the private job market. You know hard work – being a public service professional has prepared you to be successful in your post public service career. You can do this; you simply need a plan – a roadmap of what to do. To make a plan, analyze the direction of your path and make logical decisions, and, you need to engage the following considerations.
You will experience fear and anxiety of the unknown, conflict over financial considerations, and emotional ups and downs during the process of your professional reinvention. You will be leaving a profession where you have contributed and made a significant difference in the world. You will be leaving a comfort zone where you have experienced success and have an established identity for – the unknown. As you plan for this transition, you may not know what you want to do or what you are qualified to do or you may need new professional credentials/certifications beyond your current public service knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs). For the most part, you are going to be starting over – you will be the newbie once again. You will need to invest time, energy and finances into preparing for your next career as “Who You Are” may not be “Who You Will Be”.
Start by knowing your numbers. Determine your financial living plan. Determine how long you want/need to work beyond your public career and within the private sector. Calculate all the factors related to your income needs now and beyond the net value of your local, State or federal government retirement check?
Evaluating the Job Market
You will need to understand the areas of growth in the job market – by industry – by location. Learn what professional positions are in demand now and what/where are the trends. Evaluate whether you want to work for a corporation or a small business, publicly traded or privately held company. Are the companies you are interested in profitable, stable and do you believe they will survive the next economic downturn?
Non-Profit, Public, Private or Entrepreneur?
Do you have the desire, finances and drive to start your own company, be your own boss? Do you understand marketing, customer base, and are you ready to work 24/7/365? Building a career path map that allows you to find a relatable position in a non-profit, other public agency, private enterprise or as an entrepreneur should focus on your interests, qualifications and financial needs. Have you conducted an assessment of your competencies? Are there gaps in your competencies and the skill set necessary to be successful in your post public service career? Which competencies translate well to business needs? What are you missing? How do you acquire what you need? How much time do you need and at what cost?
Business Acumen 101
Do you possess business acumen? Are you knowledgeable about business drivers, e.g., revenue growth, profitability, and program execution?
Are you familiar with corporate hierarchy, titles, roles and responsibilities? In business, you are either overhead (cost the company money) or direct labor (generate income for the company). Knowing which position to target based on your qualifications, potential to add value to a company, and your comfort zone is essential. A company’s growth is dependent on business development and its pipeline of future contracts for goods and services. Learn the drivers of what enables a company to grow and succeed and how your capabilities are essential for their continued growth. Are you familiar with the world of government contracting? Do you “Know the Drivers and Timing for Corporate Hiring”?