Category Archives: Finances

Do You Know How to Ace a Meeting for a Job?

How to Get Hiring Managers on Your Side

2-½ minutes to read

Last week I took my redeployers (the people who come to WTP) to Koblenz. Before the Nazis came to power, 800 Jews lived there. Only twenty-two survived the war. I felt some trepidation as I walked the streets of the city. While window-shopping, I found a store with solid wood hangars at less than a Euro each. I went inside…

Do You Know How to Ace a Meeting for a Job_

Connecting Can Entail a Bit of Risk

The shopkeeper hovered over me as I looked around his shop. He spoke to me in German when I picked up a VW Beetle keychain. No sprechen sie Deutsch, I replied. When I settled in front of the hangars, he struggled to explain the price to me.

At the register, I bent forward to reach my wallet. That’s when he saw my yarmulke. Juden? he asked. I froze for a moment, unsure what to do. But what choice did I have? Ya, Juden, I said. A huge smile came over his face. Pointing to himself he declared, “Me Juden!” A wave of relief flooded over me.

For the next twenty-five minutes, we conversed. My new friend was from Italy. He spoke German, Italian, and some of French. I spoke English, ten words of German, a bit of French, and some Spanish. At times we pantomimed. Despite the language gap, Enrico and I understood each other.

Having connected, we weer glad to help each other. We covered substantive and trivial issues. He told me the best places to see the Rhein and the Moselle rivers. He let me know the safe places to travel in France. I helped him learn a little Hebrew. He seemed to draw confirmation of his identity from this Navy rabbi showing up in his store.

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All this grew out of our risking making a connection.

4 Four Ways to Create Rapport

You have the same primary task at a meeting for a job. Connect with the hiring manager. If you cannot do so, nothing else that happens will matter much. It can seem daunting to relate to someone so quickly. A few simple techniques will make it easier:

1. Starting Points. Geography, previous employment, alma maters, cultural touch points, life stages, and interests. All create connections. Are you from the same state or town? Were you both in the military? Did you go to the same school or were you crosstown rivals? Do you share the same religious denomination? Are your children similar in age?

2. Inside Contact. Ask your inside contact for some basic information about the hiring manager. After greeting each other and sitting down, bring up something that interests you in his background. The phrase, “I understand that…” is useful when asking for details. Say he rides a motorcycle. Try, “I understand you ride a motorcycle. What kind of bike do you have?”

3. LinkedIn and Online Biography. Check his profile on LinkedIn and the organization’s website. Look for information on schools, causes, and interest. Where do they intersect with yours?

4. Look for Connection Points in His Office. If you can't find any information in advance, give a quick glance around his office. What do you see that sparks your interest? Are there photographs of a fishing trip? Try this phrase. “Oh, I see you're into fishing. Where were these pictures taken?”

People like to talk about their passions. Make a connection by showing genuine interest. Once you’ve created some rapport, you stand a much better chance of having a successful meeting.


Do you have trouble breaking the ice at a meeting?

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How to Find Veterans with the Precise Skills You Need

You Can Break Military Occupational Specialty Codes…

2-½ minutes to read

(NOTE: This is part of a series of articles for civilians who want to help veterans transition better. If you’re current or former military, pass this on to a civilian friend.)

Last week’s post showed how to assess the experience and educational level of military people. You saw the typical veteran is ahead of his civilian peers on both counts. But businesses and veterans struggle to understand each other when talking about skills. Nonetheless, you can pinpoint the ones you need. The bureaucratic nature of the military will do most of the work for you.

How to Find Veterans with the Precise Skills You Need

Job Specialties by the Numbers

Next time you meet a veteran, ask him what his military specialty was. Chances are you’ll get an answer like, “I was an 11 bravo.” Bravo is the phonetic alphabet equivalent of the letter B. The number and letter combination is called a Military Occupational Specialty Code. The Army has about 190 of them.

Each branch of the military classifies its people according to codes. They go by the following names:

Army - Enlisted: Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)

Army – Warrant Officers: Warrant Officer Military Occupational Specialty Code (WOMOS)

Army – Officers: Area of Concentration (AOC)

Marine Corps – Enlisted: Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)

Marine Corps – Officers: Military Occupational Specialty Code (MOS)

Navy - Enlisted: Rating

Navy - Officer: Designator

Air Force – Enlisted: Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC)

Air Force – Officers: Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC)

Each service has a different coding system. Most are combinations of numbers and letters. The Navy is the last holdout for using names, such a yeoman or SWO (Surface Warfare Officer). The links in the above list will take you to guidance current as of this writing.

In addition to these basic classifications, service members can earn specialty designations. Again, they go by different names. The Army has ASIs, Additional Skill Identifiers. The Navy has NEBCs, Navy Enlisted Billet Classification codes. In a simple example, if you need an office manager, the related Navy rating is a yeoman with a NEBC of 1815 – Office Manager.

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Many service members haven't done the paperwork to get these designations. But they’ll know the ones relevant to their job specialty. If you choose to learn ASIs, NECBs, and the like, you can be even more specific about your job needs.

Put Your New Knowledge into Practice

Let’s look at an example of how this can work in practice. Say you need a geographic information system (GIS) analyst. The military is the perfect place to find one. Every service branch has this job specialty.

The relevant codes are:

Army: 12Y – Geospatial Engineer and 35G -Geospatial Intelligence Imagery Analyst

Marine Corps: 0261 – Geographic Intelligence Specialist

Navy: AG - Aerographer's Mate

Air Force: 3E5X1 – Engineering

The names associated with the codes can be deceiving. Service members in these job specialties get trained in and use GIS systems.

Combine this information with what you learned in my previous post. If you want an entry-level GIS analyst, look for a veteran in the E-3 or E-4 pay grades. He’ll have a working knowledge of various systems. If you want a more experienced analyst who can be a team leader, target the E-5 and E-6 pay grades.

An E-6 with 8 years of military service earns $62,600 after adjusting his pay for the third that’s non-taxable. Salaries I’ve seen for GIS analysts range up to $70,000 so pay expectations mesh. Figure out the typical pay of a service member you're targeting using my Military-to-Civilian Pay Convertor.

When you post your job openings, include language like the following:



Seeking E-5s or E-6s in military specialties

Army - 12Y or 35G, Marine Corps – 0261, Navy – AG, Air Force - 3E5X1

Consider posting your job opening in veteran’s groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Although there are hundreds of specialties, many won’t apply to your organization. Once you learn the ones that do, you can communicate your specific needs.  Your ability to speak directly to veterans will give you a competitive advantage. Now go out and hire adaptable, well-trained, experienced military people.

What do you find most confusing about how the military personnel structure works?

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How to Mine Veterans to Find the Best Employees

2 Problems Solved by Hiring Military People

3 minutes to read

(NOTE: This is part of a series of articles for civilians who want to help veterans transition better. If you’re current or former military, pass this on to a civilian friend.)

Unemployment is at its lowest rate in ten years. So you’d think it would be easy to find a job. Yet veterans and civilians struggle despite 7.1 million openings. What gives? Many business owners, economists, and government officials agree a skills gap hampers hiring. Economist James Bessen wrote the most lucid explanation I’ve found. He identifies two problems: 1. Finding people with certain specific skill sets and 2. Recruiting employees who can adapt their skills at the pace of industry change. Both describe military people.

How to Mine Veterans to Find the Best Employees

The Military Trains in Adaptability

Take the second issue first. Have you seen the movie, Heartbreak Ridge? Clint Eastwood inculcates his Marines with the ethos of “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.” The Marine Corps embeds these values in its people.

I saw it in action when my air wing deployed. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, the legendary Death Rattlers, had some of the oldest fighter jets in the fleet. Yet ingenuity and tenacity maintaining their planes kept them flying as much as those of squadrons with much newer equipment.

And I’ve seen Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen as resourceful as Marines. With today’s undermanned units and equipment older than maintenance crews, you have to be creative to get the job done.

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Veterans don't think to mention this skill. It’s so much a part of them it would be like saying they know how to breathe. And you don't see it in information on veterans, such as this summary by the VA. Not every veteran has it in equal amounts. But if you ask about their experience, you’ll soon find the level of their adaptability.

The Basics of Military Personnel Structure

With resourcefulness a given, you need to find military people with specific skill sets you need. Here’s the challenge. Many veterans don't know how to translate their military training and experience into language civilians understand. But if you make a small investment in learning the military personnel system, you can use terminology they know.

Consider that veterans have little or no experience finding a civilian job. They don't know the process, language, or how to market themselves. The people who train them in such skills mean well. But they don't have much job-hunting experience either.

If you have a growing business, you need to expand your workforce on a regular basis. So it makes sense to have one or two people at your company learn the military personnel structure. Then they can find quality employees with your required skills sets among the many resourceful veterans looking for work.

I’ll explain the basic structure here. Then, over the next few weeks, I’ll deal with:

  • How pay grade relates to education, experience, and leadership ability.
  • Military job codes and how you can use them to unearth the skills you need.
  • Questions you can ask veterans to help them uncover their true abilities.

There are three categories of personnel or pay grades in the military:

Enlisted people (E1 through E9 pay grades). Technical skill and leadership ability increase with pay grade. They break down into three groups, though variations exist among the service branches:

  1. Junior Enlisted (E1 through E3). Rank and file employees, such as technicians, mechanics, and analysts.
  2. Non-Commissioned Officers - NCOs (E4 through E6). High skills level and first level supervision, such as team leaders.
  3. Senior or Staff Non-Commissioned Officers - SNCOs (E7 through E9). Skill mastery and leadership from managers to lower level C-Suite capability.

Warrant Officers (W1 through W5 pay grades). Combine the expertise and training ability of SNCOs with the operational leadership of commissioned officers.

Commissioned Officers (O1 through O10 pay grades). Leadership ability and command authority increase with pay grade. They break down into two broad categories and three levels. The categories are:

  1. Line Officers. Exercise command authority.
  2. Staff officers. Professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, and chaplains who advise commanders.

The three levels are:

  1. Junior Officers (O1 through O3). Tactical and small unit leadership, equal to mid level management to lower level C-Suite.
  2. Senior Officers (O4 through O6). Operational and administrative unit leadership, equal to mid to senior C-Suite level.
  3. General and Flag Officers (O7 through O10). Generals and admirals who form the uniformed senior leadership of each service branch. Equal to senior C-Suite executives and directors.

Like with any organization, abilities vary based on the individual. But with this basic structure in mind, you can begin to target the skill and leadership level you need.

What is the biggest hiring problem you face?

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How to Improve Your Company by Hiring Veterans

25 Benefits Military People Bring to the Table

2-½ minutes to read

(NOTE: I wrote this for civilians who want to help veterans transition better. If you’re current or former military, pass this on to a civilian friend.)

You want to help veterans make a smoother transition to civilian life. But you don't know any or know just a handful. You’d like to make an impact. But you’ve got your job and family responsibilities. So it can't be a full-time endeavor. Everyone is so busy these days. What can you do that has a limited time commitment?

How to Improve Your Company by Hiring Veterans

A Quick Assessment of Your Knowledge

Last week I mentioned three things you can do to shrink the military-civilian divide:

  1. Understand military culture.
  2. Identify the benefits of hiring veterans.
  3. Use the military personnel structure.

Start by assessing what you know about the military and its culture. If your knowledge comes from movies and television it’s not accurate. Take this online course on the basics of military structure and culture. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. Though it’s geared to mental health professionals, you’ll find it useful. Ninety-five percent of what it covers applies to anyone who wants to know more about the military.

Having figured out what you know, you can fill in the gaps. Check out these resources for learning military language and service specific values:

Summary of core value for each service branch

List of military terms and acronyms

Military lingo

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After an hour or two, you’ll be better prepared to understand military people. Keep the terms and lingo cheat sheets on your cell phone for easy access.

Qualities and Soft Skills

Now that you can communicate with veterans better, you’re ready to take the next step. To help military people find the right job, determine how they can help an organization. Start by the learning how military training and service benefits them. Not every service member gains these 20 qualities and skills. But by and large, you’ll find a high correlation between the list and what they bring to the table as prospective employees.

Other benefits of employing military people are:

  1. Mission-Focused. No organization is more mission-focused than the military. Service members learn to keep that end goal in sight. Hence they exercise creativity when bureaucracy makes reaching it more difficult.
  2. Respect Policies & Procedures. Military people know how to work within policies, even when they disagree with them. They find ways to finesse them from time to time. But they won't violate them, especially when they understand their rationale.
  3. Intuitive. Much of military training inculcates the ability to respond with little thought. Intuition takes over. Given the speed of commerce, such a skill has great value to a company.
  4. Candor. Hidden problems in the military cost lives and valuable equipment. When something is wrong, service members learn to speak up. They’re direct but respectful. In the private sector, such candor can be off putting. Veterans need to tone it down. At the same time, organizations have to get such input to survive.
  5. Leadership. Even junior enlisted people have leadership ability. Especially if they were in a community like aviation or submarines. On an aircraft carrier, an 18-year-old plane captain decides whether a $50 million airplane leaves the deck. It doesn't matter that the pilot outranks him.

These qualities and soft skills enhance technical proficiency and experience. Don't rely on a resume. Often service members struggle to capture their skills and experience on paper. Ferret out their qualifications using these lists.

You may choose not to use the military personnel structure to find the hard skills you need. Even so, knowing the benefits military people bring to an employer can help you find the ones that best fit into your organization. In doing so, you can substantially improve the quality of your hires.

How have you helped veterans transition?

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Want Greater Success? Learn to Tolerate More of This…

What You Want Lies Beyond a Wall of Boredom

2-½ minutes to read

The military holds the promise of an exciting life. If you haven’t seen the latest recruiting commercials take a look. Think of the adrenaline rush from jumping off that airplane. Is there any chance you’ll find being a Marine boring? Both of these pale in comparison to Special Forces. There’s never a dull moment in the military. Yeah, right. If General Military Training doesn’t put you to sleep paperwork will. But hey, it’s the government. You have to expect tedium. The private sector is different.

Want Greater Success? Learn to Tolerate More of This…

The Two Types of Boredom

Growing up not far from Hollywood, the excitement of making movies enthralled me. I had to be a part of it. In the late 1980s, I got my chance. My friend needed a producer for his next project. Count me in!

It didn't take long for reality to hit. Decorating the set. Focusing the lights. Practicing camera movements. Rehearsing the actors. Often it took several hours to set up a shot that took less than a minute to film. As the producer, I had to keep people from getting bored and mischievous to protect my investment.

Since then, I joke about the “glamour” of the film business. Don't get me wrong. Premieres are exciting. But such moments punctuate long periods of tedium.

Of course, it's nothing like the boredom of cold calling. The difference between film production and sales highlights the two types of boredom.

  • Passive Boredom – Sitting around with nothing to do.
  • Active Boredom – Repetitive tasks that aren't exciting.
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Most people can tolerate the first type. You may have trouble relaxing. Still, if your job requires stretches of getting paid to do nothing you can adapt.

How to Overcome Boredom

Active boredom is another story. Having to do dull, repetitive tasks saps most people’s endurance. But you can’t reach a goal without them.

About a month ago I had to start doing abdominal work again. My stomach has gotten too flabby. It is soooooo boring doing crunches and leg lifts. I tried listening to upbeat music while exercising. It didn't help. I had to set an ironclad goal and accept the tedium.

Many job-hunting tasks are boring. Always reaching out to your contacts. Writing lots of thank you notes. Practicing your elevator pitch and what you’ll say in a meeting to get a job. All these can tax your patience. I can understand why you just want the thrill of getting the job. But these boring tasks are what will make that happen.

It won't be different on the job. You’ll have exciting moments. But you’ll spend most of your time on routine work. Yet that’s where you’ll make your biggest impact. Great ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution is what matters. That means doing and keeping track of dozens of small, everyday tasks.

Now you can see why it’s important to have a mission and objectives. You need to work in a field you love. If not, it’s too easy to stop doing the boring tasks that take you to your goal.

Don’t let slick videos seduce you into thinking success and excitement go together. If you want to succeed, prepare to buckle down and power through boredom.

What did you do in the military to keep working toward boring goals?

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