Category Archives: Finances

How to Direct Your Marketing Fire for the Job & Pay You Want

Why Intel Collection Is the Most Important Skill You Need from the Military

2-½ minutes to read

Do you want:

  • Your first post-military job,
  • A better job,
  • A higher salary and/or better position at your current organization?

Our nation begins with a national defense strategy. Combatant commanders develop operational objectives. To meet these objectives, we execute tactical missions. You can follow the same process to achieve your civilian life goals.

How to Direct Your Marketing Fire for the Job & Pay You Want

Make Sure Your Message Is on Target

The headline of a post in a LinkedIn veterans’ group says, “Why is getting hired so complicated?” The writer says he tailors each resume and cover letter. Sometimes, he’ll apply for openings that don't fit his qualifications. He’s working on another certification and will lower his expectations. Sounds like he’s committed to finding a job, right?

You’re a hiring manager. How do you see him? Willing to follow the pack? Desperate? Unqualified? It may sound harsh, but his lack of success isn't surprising. His self-marketing screams, DON'T HIRE ME!”

Most organizations want people who:

  • Go the extra mile.
  • Have confidence in their ability to deliver value
  • Strive to go beyond mere qualifications and find the competitive edge.

Asking a company “to give you a chance” means you want it to gamble. Why should it do that when it can hire someone who has taken the time to fill in all four of the diagram’s boxes? That candidate presents little risk. Rather than appealing for a chance, go out and create opportunity.

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Most candidates won't take the time to do this research and analysis. Set yourself apart from the masses. Gather and apply this intelligence.

How to Build Your Strategy and Tactics Based on Intel 

Until you can fill in each of the four boxes, you’re flying in the dark without instruments. Build your strategy as follows:

How you see yourself – Most private sector organizations want to hire veterans. But they need you to operate in the civilian workplace. This requires revising your identity. Military command and control won't work. Imagine adapting. How can you alter your military persona to better mesh with civilians? Write down your new purpose.

How the company sees you – In the military, people often based their perceptions on your ribbon rack. At higher levels, your reputation preceded you. Neither may have matched your self-perception. When a civilian organization considers hiring you, it assesses your ability to deliver value. In the absence of self-marketing, where will the hiring manager get accurate information? Plan what you’ll say and do during phone calls, meetings, and in written communications.

How the company sees itself – Like people, organizations have self-images. One may see itself as being forward thinking. Another identifies as being military friendly. By understanding how a company sees itself, you have crucial intelligence for presenting how you'll deliver value. Research the organization’s culture. Determine how you align with and enhance its mission. Do you sound like someone the organization wants to hire? Now, look at your resume and cover letter. Re-calibrate your self-marketing with the company’s perspective in mind. Make the company feel compelled to hire or promote you.

How you see the company – How an organization sees itself and how you perceive it may differ. Your job satisfaction will rest on how well you’ll fit it. Having researched the organization’s culture, assess whether it's a place you can thrive. If there’s a match, create a self-marketing plan that highlights connection points. Move on if you don't fit in. Spend your valuable time targeting a better prospect.

Stop treating your professional prospects like roulette. Separate yourself from the pack. Get clarity on you and the company. Use it to prove your value. You’ll get the job or promotion.

What will prevent you from following this process?

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How to Focus Your Job-Hunt Marketing

Why You Need to Learn to Hate Vanilla

2 minutes to read

Tell me if this situation makes sense. Your car breaks down and you have it towed to your mechanic. A couple of hours later he calls and you ask, “Can you fix it?” Responding, he says, “I have 10 years experience repairing Fords and eight years experience fixing Hondas.” But that didn't answer your question. Shouldn't he have told you what the problem is and how he’s going to fix it? Most job-hunters make this same mistake.

How to Focus Your Job-Hunt Marketing

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Last week I coached a veteran who hasn't gotten any traction with his job-hunt. He’s decided to relocate because he sees better job prospects in a different place. Yet, the state where he lives now outpaces the rest of the country in job growth. His target state has had flat job growth this year.

This vet has solid skills, accomplishments, and leadership ability. At meetings to discuss jobs, hiring managers have told him he has what they need. Yet, he hasn’t received a single job offer. He says he needs a degree. But companies like Google and Ernst & Young don't require one.

His real problem: He’s forgettable.

Without an inside contact, he has no ally keeping him front of mind with the hiring manager. And he leaves out the other crucial ingredient for any job-hunt interaction.

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People remember and love stories. Yet he doesn't tell any. Nor does he use memorable language to highlight the value he’ll bring to a company. In short, hiring managers don't care if a competitor hires him. They don't feel the loss.

Resolve to Be Competitive

A person acts in one of two ways: moving toward a reward or moving away from fear. You may think this only applies to children. But adults carry a bias toward one of these throughout their lives. How do you know which one will motivate a particular hiring manager?

You don’t. So you’ll have to approach him from both. Give him an unforgettable presentation of your value to the organization. If reward drives him, he’ll hire you for how you’ll increase profits. If fear drives him, he’ll hire you so his competitor won’t.

Focus your self-marketing on answering the question: “What will make this company afraid its rival will hire me?”

The United States gathers intelligence about our enemies so we can exploit their weaknesses. It also helps us influence our allies to remain loyal. Our enemies do the same to us. Use this strategy for your job-hunt.

The answer doesn’t lie in a degree or your training and skills. All these are commonplace. Rather, know the challenges an organization and its competitors face. When you know its vulnerabilities, a company will want you on its side. If you know where its rivals struggle, it will want your help exploiting these weaknesses.

Develop relationships with people who will explain the challenges in your field. People like to talk about their areas of interest. Always stand ready with two or three questions that will enhance your industry knowledge. When you have the opportunity, ask them.

Most people won't do this hard work. Put in the time and effort. Don’t be plain vanilla. Be Moose Tracks. Then you’ll get a job you’ll love.

How do you gain intel about your chosen field?

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The Bottom Line on the Value of Your Military Skills

Do You Know Which Are More Valuable in the Private Sector?

2-½ minutes to read

Pilot or aircraft maintainer – who has the more valuable job? Most people say the pilot. After all, the cost to get a military pilot through basic flight training is $1 million. It can cost as much as $9 million to reach operational effectiveness. I’ve based these figures on a 1999 study. The most recent I could find. Since it costs perhaps $200,000 to train a maintainer, most people must be right. Except they're wrong.

The Bottom Line on the Value of Your Military Skills

Cost Doesn't Translate into Value

Early in my real estate career, I learned cost and value don’t connect. A couple had spent $25,000 remodeling their kitchen. But when I appraised their house it added only $15,000 to its value. Oops!

We want to believe that when something costs a lot it has to be more valuable. Think Armani Suits or Jimmy Choo shoes. But the cost to make such goods is a fraction of the selling price. Marketing and snob appeal create a value disconnected from the cost of production.

You see this everywhere today. Media make a compelling case for the death of consumer branding. But of the top 20 consumer brands, 17 increased their value. They have a good reason for working to do so.

A recognized brand can get a premium price for its products and services. Think Apple, Disney, and Samsung. Disney’s brand has translated into the cost to visit Disneyland outstripping inflation by a factor of 40 since the late 1970s.

Pilots carry a similar status. Top Gun became a recruiting godsend for the Navy by making aviators uber-cool. For a century, they’ve been the knights of our society. But there are signs that like the paladins of old, their sunset approaches.

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The rise of unmanned aerial vehicles has changed the game.

When Prestige Doesn’t Create Value

The high cost of training a pilot and operating manned aircraft are the very issues that make their future value uncertain.

You can buy an F-35 for $101 million. It costs $35,000 to operate it for an hour. Contrast this with a UAV. The Predator costs $13 million and $1,500 respectively. At eight times the price and 23 times the flight hour cost, the F-35 is expensive. And that doesn't count the human cost if a pilot crashes or is shot down.

As the percentage of the military’s budget for personnel and training continues to climb, you can bet it will work to reign in these expenses. Eliminating 1,000 pilots, less than 4%, would save the defense budget $9 billion in training costs alone. That amounts to a 1.5% of the DOD’s budget.

While the military has incentives to reduce the number of pilots, what about the civilian side? How much money could Fedex save by converting their small aircraft to UAVs? What about UPS? I use cargo carriers as an example because packages won't get nervous without a human in the cockpit. But airline legacy carriers struggle to survive. In the meantime, newer ones form that offer lower pilot compensation.

Many former military pilots have found their civilian job prospects less rosy than they used to be. The median pay for commercial pilots is $77,200. Salaries for new hires at regional airlines range from $50,000 to $60,000.

Enter the “lowly” maintainer. Does it matter whether he works on a manned or unmanned aircraft? Hardly. They both have to be ready to fly. The aircraft maintainer who stays ahead of the knowledge curve will always be in demand. The median pay for an aircraft mechanic is $81,862. The lowest 10% make $61,624 or less.

Examine the value of your military skills, leadership ability, and accomplishments. Don't fall into the cost versus value trap. Create your Unique Value Proposition based on a clear analysis of how you can best use them to get a job you’ll love.

Are you clear about the value of your skills?

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How Nonconformity Can Improve Your Job Prospects

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Shelach – Numbers 13:1-15:41

The military values conformity. Look no further than uniforms, right? Each service branch has its values, hymn, and customs that create a cohesive identity. At times you can feel suffocated by the need to fit in.

How Nonconformity Can Improve Your Job Prospects

America’s Love-Hate Relationship with Conformity

From her earliest days, our Republic has been ambivalent about nonconformists. Despite many colonials being religious dissenters, most colonies had an official church. Only Rhode Island was founded on the principle of religious pluralism.

From such an irresolute beginning, nonconformity has seeped into the American character. Teenagers rebel against their parents. The ubiquity of tattoos speaks to a desire for individuality. Yet, because rebellion by teenagers is commonplace, non-rebellious ones feel forced to conform. Sailors feel pressured to get a tattoo since everyone else in their unit has one.

It’s like the hilarious scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Brian preaches to the people, “You’re all individuals.” To which they parrot in unison, “Yes, we’re all individuals!”

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In the military, the penalty for nonconformity can be harsh. What about in civilian life?

The Two Ways of the Nonconformist

Humans have wrestled with the dilemma of nonconformity for millennia. Thirty-three hundred years ago, Moses faced this issue when sending men to reconnoiter the Holy Land. In Parshas Shelach:

Caleb silenced the people toward Moses…. (Numbers/Bamidbar 13:30)

In the story of the twelve spies, Moses picks a leader from each tribe. They form a group for gathering intelligence on the Land of Israel. When they return, ten of them report to Moses that the Israelites cannot conquer the Land. Only Joshua and Caleb dissent.

Throughout the spies’ forty-day mission, Joshua disagreed with the group’s conclusions. But Joshua was Moses’s faithful servant. The ten spies were confident the people would consider him biased.

Caleb was another matter. He kept his counsel during the forty-day patrol. Not until the climatic moment did he declare his dissent from the group’s opinion. Unfortunately, he does not sway the Israelites. But he solidifies himself as a man of principle.

Who was right, Joshua and Caleb?

Nonconformity in Civilian Life

After years of conforming in the military, you may feel tempted to adopt Joshua’s consistent, nonconformist posture. Caleb’s plan of going along with the group until principle is on the line seems wishy-washy or weak. But when G-d equates Joshua and Caleb, He makes both of them our models.

So how can we adopt nonconformity all the time while being nonconformist only sometimes?

Don’t make either your exclusive posture. Apply them according to the issue at hand. When deciding on the length of your hair, if you don’t care, take Caleb’s path. Feel free to conform. Don’t think you have to take the rebellious route.

But for your job-hunt, nonconformity works best. Don’t content yourself with hunting the way everybody else does. Always take steps to separate yourself from the pack. Most people rely on job boards. So create relationships to work from the inside. Since PDF resumes are the standard, make a video resume. Conformist job-hunters state their skills. Distinguish yourself by conveying the unique value you bring to the table.

While Caleb earns the Almighty’s commendation, Joshua becomes the leader after Moses dies. G-d recognized his dogged determination to serve the Israelites. Improve your job prospects by following his example.

In what area of your life are you a nonconformist?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

How to Have the Security of a High-Paying Job

Have You Absorbed the Most Important Lesson of Military Life?

1-½ minutes to read

Training makes our military second to none. Sometimes equipment doesn’t always measure up. Other times intelligence gaps make completing a mission tough. But rugged conditioning and practice prepare us to overcome all obstacles and prevail. It’s a shame that we don’t take the same approach when getting ready for civilian life.

How to Have the Security of a High-Paying Job

Training Trumps Information

Imagine you’ve just arrived at Fort Benning, MCRD, Great Lakes, or JBSA-Lackland. After checking in, the drill instructors tell you to jump on the Internet. It’s time to learn how to become a Soldier, Marine, Sailor, or Airman. You’d think they were nuts, right?

Adapting to military life took more than information. There’s a world of difference between reading a manual on firing the M4 Carbine and actually training in its use. Without enough live fire exercises, you’d expect failure in combat.

Civilian life is no different.

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You don’t face life or death when reintegrating to the private sector. But getting the security of a high-paying job takes more than information.

Security Comes from Superior Conditioning

Basic training lasted seven to twelve weeks. Follow on schools lasted from a few weeks to a year. You trained full time. You still weren’t ready for duty. When you got to your unit you received OTJ (on the job) training.

Now learning how to get a high-paying job may not be as complex as becoming a medic or submarine nuke. But one week of transition instruction, while keeping up with regular duties, won’t cut it. You need at least two months of dedicated training to learn the ropes.

Start by assessing where you need to improve. Have you adjusted from a military to a civilian mindset? Do you know how to:

  1. Set a mission and goals?
  2. Build a unique value proposition?
  3. Target employers and create relationships?
  4. Market yourself?
  5. Meet and negotiate?

Until you have these capabilities, a successful job-hunt will prove elusive. Like in basic training, drill to gain proficiency. You’ll make mistakes. So make sure you have a mentor with military and civilian life success. That way he can help you improve. Then you can achieve mastery through on the job… hunt training.

My free guide will help you get started. The military taught you how to prepare for a new challenge. Follow its guidance. Train for the challenges of reintegration and finding a high-paying job.

Which step is giving you the hardest time?

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