Life After A Sub

Just about 7 years ago today, I went on terminal leave prior to my retirement from the U.S. Navy. I went to all the required pre-retirement classes where they talked about the importance of networking, how to write a résumé, and the importance of starting your job search early. I figured, "Well, that's all well and good for the skimmers in the class, but I'm a highly-qualified Submariner. I'm the only guy in recent memory who was initial manning Eng on two new construction submarines, and I know all the civilian companies out there know that NR looks at that billet harder than any other Department Head slot. Plus, I did Coalition Finance at CENTCOM, so I've got the budgeting block checked. I just need to send out some CVs, and the offers will come pouring in."

Those of you who have already been through the post-service job search already are probably laughing your butts off, and rightly so. When they tell you that you need to completely convert all military terms to their civilian equivalents when talking with recruiters, they're exactly right. I was able to get a job here in Idaho, but not just by sending in a résumé and having them be so excited by my qualifications that they hired me on the spot; I needed to network. Luckily, there's a very senior Submariner who moved to Boise after he retired who takes us under his wing, shows us the ropes, and introduces us to the right people. If your town doesn't have a former Fleet Commander, however, that option might not be open to you. If you don't have an "in" with a given company, your best option might be to target a group that understands the Navy culture.

From what I've heard, one such company is Bechtel. I found this over at the NavyCS blog, and wanted to repost an updated copy here:
Time to leverage your shipboard nuclear power and submarine warfare knowledge and translate it to land based power plants and other projects in the US, Asia, Middle East and other regions? Bechtel Corporation, one of the largest Nuclear Power engineering, project management and construction firms in the world, is prepared to help transition qualified engineers – Naval Officers and NCOs for engineering leadership positions, into their business. Bechtel currently has many projects and needs for Navy Nuclear Power trained engineers. Bechtel is prepared to help transition qualified engineers into their business and allocate resources to do this.

Bechtel has 100’s of openings, many in the field of Nuclear Power Generation and are aggressively seeking the usual suspects; US Navy nuclear propulsion trained officers (ranks of O3 – O5 preferred); US Navy nuclear submarine qualified officers (ranks of O3 – O5 preferred); US Navy nuclear propulsion trained Warrant officers – submarine or surface ship; US Navy nuclear aircraft carrier nuclear propulsion trained officers; US Navy Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) nuclear propulsion trained – submarine or surface service; US Navy Reactor Operators (RO); and US Navy Shutdown Reactor Operators (SRO) – submarine or surface, US Navy nuclear propulsion trained Petty Officers (E-6 and up) qualified in Submarines (i.e., Engineering Lab Technicians [ELT’s], Machinist Mates [MM’s], Electronic Technicians [ET’s]) (AS degrees preferred); US Navy nuclear propulsion trained US Naval Petty Officers (E-6 and up) surface Navy (i.e., ELT’s, MM’s, ET’s) (AS degrees preferred); US Navy nuclear propulsion prototype instructors (officers and enlisted); US Navy nuclear propulsion power school instructors (officers and enlisted).

Starting base salaries are high - can range from $95K to $175K and up, not to mention the potential for bonuses, depending, of course, on your qualifications and the position you fill.

Interested? I highly recommend that you contact Erik Plesset, a Senior Recruiter at Bechtel directly at Hotjobs[at], or if you are on Linked-In, hit him up there at – .
I was intrigued when I read that post, and since I was planning a series about "getting a job after the Navy", I contacted Erik to see if he'd be willing to share some pointers. Hopefully he'll be able to, because I think one of the best uses of this blog, with its combination of active duty and veteran readership, is to help guys transition back to civilian life when their time on the boats is done, and having the perspective of a senior recruiter of a major company would be helpful. For those who want to see what kind of jobs Erik is talking about, the Bechtel career page is here.

For the guys who have re-entered the civilian workforce -- what was your experience in getting a job on the outside? For those looking to get a job over the next few years, do you have any questions for Erik or those of us who have made the transition?