BTU #264 - Retired Army to LinkedIn Top Voice (Michael Quinn)

One of the most important things I teach people is that you have to put yourself out there. By sharing articles and writing articles, you can demonstrate your skills and experience.
— Michael Quinn

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Why Listen:
Michael Quinn has been named on of LinkedIn’s Top Voices - in this interview he shares easy to apply tactics to expressing yourself on LinkedIn, growing an audience, and building your network. He is also the Founder of HireMilitary, which allows Veterans to get their foot in the door of a company, demonstrate value, test them out for a while and potentially earn a full-time offer, all while getting pad to do so. Michael is a wealth of knowledge - I fast tracked this episode to get it out early, and hope to have him back on the show soon.

Our Sponsor: 

  • StoryBox- People trust each other more than advertising. StoryBox provides the tools and supports businesses need to take the best things customers say about them, and use them to drive more sales and referrals. StoryBox offers a 10% discount to companies employing veterans of the US Armed Forces.

  • Audible is offering one FREE audio book to Beyond the Uniform listeners. You can claim this offer here, and see a list of books recommended by my guests at

Selected Resources: 

Transcript & Time Stamps:


Joining me today from Washington, DC is Michael Quinn. Michael, can you describe your first job search after the military?

A year before my retirement, the Army was going to move me again. I brought the list of possible assignments home to my wife. My wife said, ‘I’m not moving again’. So I thought about it and realized that that additional assignment wouldn’t do much for me. I felt it was the right time to make the jump out of the military.

I went to a job fair and I was completely lost. I didn’t know how to distill what I had done in the military or explain what I wanted to do. That lead me to LinkedIn and I started posting because I wanted people to see me as more than a retired Sergeant General. I eventually got to a point where I had two competing job offers. I ended up accepting a job at ProSphere. A year into that job, I kind of outgrew that role and moved on to EY where I am now.


What were you talking about in those first few LinkedIn posts?

I distinctly remember the first time one of my articles went viral. All I was doing was write articles about being a leader. It was a lot about how to strategically build teams at large organizations. I also wrote about getting to know the people around you. I was comfortable putting myself out there but I had no idea where it would go.

One of the things you have to get comfortable with during your transition is putting yourself out there.  By sharing articles and writing articles, you can demonstrate your skills and experience.


What helped you grow your audience?

I give people the real me. I don’t sugar things and I can change my communication style depending on who I’m talking to. It’s my passion to lead and impact other people and I think I’m able to convey that in my writing.

The other part that helped was volunteering my time. I spoke to servicemembers and veterans at various locations. I think that personal connection made a big difference.

You don’t walk into the gym on day one benching 225 pounds. You build up over time. It’s the same on LinkedIn. You first few posts aren’t going to go very far. It’s over time that you’re engaging with people and they start to really follow you.


You founded HireMilitary. What is that?

HireMilitary creates opportunities for service members. There’s a DOD Skills Bridge program that allows members that are within 180 days of separation to go work with a private sector company. It’s a great opportunity for both the military member and for the company because the military member gets private sector experience while the companies get free labor. There are a lot of people that don’t take advantage of this opportunity. HireMilitary came about as a way to help military members take advantage of these transition programs and other opportunities that are available.

People who are interested in participating should go to our website to sign up.

The way it originally came about was that I had three service members reach out to me to tell me that they had applied for a transition fellowship but hadn’t been selected. I helped them through the process to find a private company that they could get experience with while they were still in the military. I realized that nobody was really doing that. I started looking at what it would cost to start a company that focused on helping veterans during their transition. Luckily, I had many mentors that were able to help me through the process of starting my own company. Next week we’re going to go live with a mobile app which will be fully functional and allow users to take advantage of our programs through their phone.


As HireMilitary grows, how does the organization make money?

I don’t believe a service member should ever have to pay for transition assistance. I will never charge a service member. When a transitioning service member is placed at a company, there is a 30 day trial period. If both the service member and the company agree to continue the partnership for the next three months, the company will pay a small fee. After that, there are no additional charges to the company.


What messages do you share with transitioning military members as you meet them?

I’ve developed a workshop that is between 2-3 hours long. I walk people through the process companies go through to find and hire talent. I teach people how to brand themselves and build a supportive network. Right now these workshops are exclusively in person but I’m working to create a workshop that will be conducted online as well.


Do you have any advice for veterans about how to successfully network?

I ask veterans to envision themselves two years from now. If a military member reaches out to you for help during their transition, you would help them. That helps veterans feel more comfortable reaching out to veterans that have transitioned before them. Most veterans will want to help you. LinkedIn is amazing because you can filter people based on common career interests.

I also tell people not to be so direct in their communications with people. Take time to build a relationship with people you are interested in making a connection with.


Is there anything else that stands out to you as things people are doing right or wrong during their transition out of the military?

I think the biggest thing people do wrong is that people start to think about their transition too late. If you start 3-6 months ahead of your final date in the military, you are missing out on a lot of preparation and figuring out exactly what you want to do. You also need to think about building a network in an area that you’re interested in working in.

There are so many nonprofits out there to help transitioning veterans.


What resources do you recommend?

LinkedIn is my top resource. It’s just something that wasn’t available 10-15 years ago. You can develop relationships with people all over the world. I learned about various resources available to veterans through LinkedIn.

American Corporate Partners is another great resource.

I also tell people to go to Hire Heroes USA.

Onward to Opportunity is a non-profit that offers various certifications.  

USO Pathfinder will match you with a mentor that will help you through your transition.

Centurion Military Alliance is also another one of my favorite resources.


Do you have any advice for how they can get more out of LinkedIn?

You really just have to dive in. I wrote an article called ‘The Ultimate LinkedIn Cheat Sheet’ to help people through the process.


How do you make it work having a full time job and working on HireMilitary?

I haven’t seen a point yet in which I could earn enough off of HireMilitary that I could quit my full-time job. If you’re working on a side project, it does need to be something you’re very passionate about not something you just want to make money off of. At HireMilitary, we are there to change service members’ lives.

I work my full-time job and do everything I can to excel there while doing everything for HireMilitary at night. I know I’m going somewhere but I don’t exactly know what my five year plan is. But I love what I do both in my full-time job and in my work with HireMilitary. I think the secret to my success is having a passion for what you’re doing.  


How often do you post on LinkedIn?

I try to post every day. I’ve found that when you post more often, you can better build a readership. Whenever I have ideas for posts, I’ll jot a note down in my phone.

Everything about LinkedIn is about engaging people. You start to develop a relationship with people when you engage in their comments on your post. That’s the key.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners?

The transition takes a lot of hard work. It will take double or triple the time that you think it will. It’s incredibly important to get out there and build a supportive network in industries that you want to work in after you leave the military.

Neither of the jobs I’ve had since leaving the military were listed positions. I found them through relationships. Don’t focus so much on job boards. Focus on your network. That will create the opportunities for you.