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How to Become a Bounty Hunter


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After The Fed

It’s been called “Washington’s Brain Drain”, the mass exodus of federal employees heading for retirement. According to the Office of Personnel Management, more than 300,000 federal workers will leave government service in the next five years. Some will retire to the beaches of Florida, others will tee up on the golf courses of North Carolina, but many of you will look for another job. Are you ready for you r “Second Act”?
When Jana Monroe retired as the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Phoenix Office, she jumped at an offer to work for one of the Big Four accounting firms.
“I had been in the law enforcement cocoon for 32 years. I wanted to see if my skill set transferred,” Monroe said.
The salary was good, but the corporate culture was not right for Monroe. “When KPMG didn’t turn out to be a good fit, then I started doing my homework. I learned that I don’t want to work remotely or from home. For me, I needed the energy and the synergy of working with people.”
So before you begin celebrating your KMA day (agents close to retirement will understand the acronym) or making a list of all the things you’ll have time to enjoy, start planning now for the next chapter of your career. Let’s start with the basics. Ask yourself some important questions. How much do I want to work? And how much do I need to work? Do you want a new career or a part-time job to supplement your pension? The answers may be very different, but will help you formulate an action plan for the future. If you want to launch a new career, here are some tips to ensure a successful Second Act. I’ll address these points in greater detail in subsequent career columns.
Revamp your resume to attract the attention of executives in the private sector. You may have had an exemplary career as a federal agent, but Corporate America wants to know what you can do for them. Focus on leadership skills, management experience and tangible results, not how many search warrants you conducted or the number of bad guys you arrested. Find ways to quantify your successes with statistics that employers understand. Example: Led a team of 10 law enforcement professionals and managed budgets in excess of $23 million. By linking your accomplishments to statistics, you illustrate your “added value” to the organization. Make sure your resume and cover letter are written in “C-suite” language. You can gain the respect of CEOs, CFOs or human resource professionals by speaking their language, a language that includes words like sales, revenue and profitability.
Work your network. Effective networking may be the single most important skill needed to position you for a new career. Reach out to family, friends, and neighbors, contacts you’ve made over the years, and let them know you are looking for opportunities after retirement. Despite all the job boards, social networks, and recruiters out there, there is nothing that can beat a contact that understands your value and will lobby on your behalf when it comes time to hire new talent. Talk to people who are already working in the jobs that appeal to you. Scheduling a relaxed, informal interview will give you a sense of what the work entails and what opportunities might exist. We all know the best jobs are often not advertised. They are filled through referrals, personal relationships, or a particular skill matching a corporate need. Companies are more comfortable hiring employees who have a network and are recommended by someone they trust. A former colleague recommended Jana Monroe for her current job as Director of Security and Emergency Preparedness at Edison International. This time, she did her homework and it looks like a perfect fit.
Match your skill set, knowledge and experience with the needs of your target job. Don’t define yourself by prior job titles, but by the skills that made you a success in those positions.
Carve out time each day to look for a new job. You’ve heard the phrase, “job hunting is a full-time job.” It’s true and you better devote the time to identify employment prospects, network with contacts and revamp your resume or retirement will sneak up on you before you know it. It is easy to become consumed by the demands of the job, so make your job search a priority.
Join professional and industry trade associations. Attend their conferences, offer to be a speaker or moderate a session. That kind of proactive outreach will help increase your visibility and put you in contact with key business leaders in your targeted profession. The people you meet during the cocktail hour may be more beneficial to your career than the actual content of the conference.
Get published. Many federal employees do some kind of writing on the job, whether it’s reports, evaluations, or an article for a trade publication. Writing helps build your brand as an “industry expert” and is one way to illustrate your ability to communicate.
Build relationships with recruiters. Headhunters can be excellent sources of information for leads on job openings or companies you wish to target.



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