Show Me the Money! How to Maximize Your Paycheck After Military Transition

Tom Cruise, as the title character in 'Jerry Maguire,' utters his most famous line from that 1996 movie: 'Show me the money!'
Tom Cruise, as the title character in 'Jerry Maguire,' utters his most famous line from that 1996 movie: 'Show me the money!' (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures)

What keeps you up at night during military transition? Is it ... the money? I know it isn't cool to mention it. In the U.S. military, with its public pay charts and official cost-of-living allowances, we are all supposed to be above talking about the money.

Unfortunately, money becomes a different animal during military transition. When I coach transitioning military members, we always talk about work experience, family and goals. While many transitioning members are quick to assure me that your next job isn't just about the money, they are just as quick to say that, yes, they need to get that cash.

Sometimes, there is so much suppressed urgency in those words, it's like I'm watching a personal version of the "Show Me the Money" scene from "Jerry Maguire."

The worker part of you has a good grip on your real value in the outside world. You are as assured as Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. saying, "[It's a] very personal, very important thing. Hell, it's a family motto. Are you ready, Jerry? Want to make sure you’re ready, brother. Here it is: Show me the money."

The worker part of you is not wrong! You have valuable skills and experience, and the world wants you. And you should be angling for the best possible situation; after all, future paychecks and bonuses depend on your starting salary. Show me the money!

Then your inner agent kicks in. Your inner agent is, in fact, the only person who is going to negotiate for you. He is the only person who can. But he is bleary-eyed and anxious and exhausted and flop-sweating through his crisp white shirt. At the beginning of transition, your inner agent could not be more awkward or bewildered repeating, "Show me the money. Show me the money. SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!"

Asking for more money is an inherently awkward proposition, and, respectfully, it is no wonder your inner agent -- your inner Tom Cruise, in this analogy -- does not know anything about getting the money in the outside world. How can he? As a military member, your inner agent has never negotiated a paycheck, received an end-of-year bonus, participated in profit sharing, given anyone a raise. Your inner agent would not recognize a salary band if it was wrapped around your neck and cutting off your circulation.

It is no wonder your inner worker sleeps like a baby while your inner agent is waking you up at night to worry holes in your lower intestine. Can you get a job before your military pay runs out? Will they pay you what you are worth? Will your new paycheck cover the bills, or will you be carting your kids around in a wheelbarrow trying to convince them you are on reality TV? For transitioning military, the pressure to get the money can be intense.

You can stop worrying about the money. That is why we are so glad to offer our newest master class -- Show me the Money: Secret Practices of the Best Paid Veterans on Thursday, Sept. 21, at 4 p.m. Eastern. The master class is free to you and sponsored by Western Governors University, an online university where you can earn an affordable, accredited, career-focused college degree at an accelerated pace.

In this 60-minute master class, you will learn everything you need to know about earning post-military money, including:

  • How to identify the best-paying job opportunities in the current economy.
  • How long it should take you to get a job post-transition (and how to speed that up).
  • How to be your own Jerry Maguire and negotiate your paycheck like a champ.

Register for our free master class today -- and sleep like your confident, qualified, amazing inner worker tonight.

Jacey Eckhart is's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website, Reach her at

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Transitioning military, veterans and spouses may be qualified for the job, but they are missing the secrets of civilian hiring. Find out everything you need to know with our free master class series, including our next class. You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.

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