PRSA Public Relations, Marketing and Communications Jobs

Military Career Transition Success Story: Johnny Rea

Vice President, Strategic Marketing and Communications
Centura Health South State Operating Group

MY TRANSITION FROM THE MILITARY

I retired from our nation’s great Air Force in 2007 after 24 years of service, all in the public affairs career field, as both an officer and enlisted professional. As with most people, I was very nervous about the transition and uncertain of what the future would hold. Until then, I never had to worry about job security.

I participated in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and found it extremely beneficial — from resume writing tips to the “dress for success” session, I couldn’t get enough information. In the final weeks before my retirement, I interviewed with three defense contractors and had offers from each of them. But then I received “the call.” While supporting an IG visit in Florida, a former co-worker who had recently separated from the Air Force called to ask if I’d consider interviewing for a marketing and communications manager position with a local nonprofit, Catholic-based hospital in Colorado Springs. Other than facilitating media interviews at base hospitals, I had no health care experience, but found it very intriguing.

I interviewed with two marketing and public relations directors, and was called back for an interview with the CEO. It went well and I was offered the position. Two years later, I moved up to the director position, and just over a year ago, filled a newly-created position of vice president, strategic marketing and communications, and now oversee marketing and communications strategy and execution for Centura Health’s four hospitals in southern Colorado. 

RESUME AND CAREER TIPS TO CONSIDER

  • Tailor your resume to every position you apply for. I created one very long “master” resume, then pulled what I needed for each application based on the job description. A “standard” resume gets tossed quickly. 
                                             
  • Participate in as many interviews as possible. The resume gets you in the door, a great interview gets you a paycheck. 
                                                                    
  • Network! Network! Network! I got my opportunity because a friend knew I was looking for a job post-retirement, and knew my skill set. Let everyone you know when you’re retiring and when you’ll be available. 
                                                                            
  • Don’t wait for the executive-level “dream job“; rather, get in the job market and work your way up. Employers value the discipline and skills that veterans bring to the table, and it won’t take long for you to stand out.
                                                                      
  • Quantify your resume with impact and results and use civilian terms if applying for a non-defense-contractor position (CEO-equivalent versus commander/general). The Family Support Center puts out a great booklet that helps convert military terms to civilian.