Category Archives: Finances

How to Negotiate Salary Using Your Military Pay

2-½ minutes to read

Stories of service members needing food stamps abound. I’m not downplaying people with financial struggles. But there seems to be a view that poverty in the military is widespread. This lowers expectations about the salaries veterans should get in the private sector. People think someone using government help to make ends meet should be happy to make $15 per hour. How do you turn this handicap to a benefit when you negotiate salary?

How to Negotiate Salary Using Your Military Pay

Knowing Your ECS - Equivalent Civilian Salary Can Get You Higher Pay in the Private Sector

The Truth About Military Pay

Most people outside the military don’t understand how our pay works. For junior enlisted, often base pay represents only half or two-thirds of their cash compensation. So even if an HR person checks military pay tables, she’s likely to come up with too low a figure.

Let’s take an example. A married E-3 with two years of service has two children. He lives off base or on a base with privatized housing. His compensation for 2017 looks like this:

Base Salary $2,004.30
Basic Subsistence Allowance 368.29
Basic Housing Allowance 1,179.00
TOTAL – MONTHLY $3,551.59
TOTAL – ANNUAL $42,619.08

Now to be sure, that’s below the $56,516 median income for a family of four. Yet, because the allowances aren’t taxable, he’ll pay no income taxes.

Exemptions and the standard deduction mean $28,800 of his income wouldn’t be taxable even as a civilian. If the other $18,000 were taxable, he’d have to pay $1,057 in FICA and $1,410 in federal income taxes. To stay even with his military pay, his Equivalent Civilian Salary (ECS) would have to be:

$42,619.08 + 1,057 + 1410 = $45,086.08

If he had to pay state income taxes the amount would be higher. That works out to over $22 per hour based on a 40-hour week. That’s three times the federal minimum wage and double California’s higher rate.

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This doesn’t include family separation allowance and incentive pay.

Use Your Military Pay as a Base to Negotiate Salary

I tried several websites that translate from military to civilian pay. For example, USAA has one available to members. But, it calculated lower figures than what I got. I’m guessing it doesn’t adjust for allowances being non-taxable. So I put together my own that you can access here. If you have any questions let me know.

Once you have your ECS you can see how it compares to salaries for the types of jobs want. For example, let’s say you were a 91B – Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic in the Army. The median salary for a similar position in the private sector, diesel mechanic, is $50,865. Salaries range from $43,776 to $55,844.   This data came from Salary.com.

The above E3 can make a strong case for higher than the minimum salary based on past compensation alone. Depending on his level of skill he may do much better.

If you were an E6, your ECS is almost $62,600. That’s higher than the maximum for a diesel mechanic. Your leadership ability qualifies you as a foreman or supervisor. So knowing your ECS will help you determine your Unique Value Proposition (UVP).

You qualify for a private sector salary similar to or higher than your military pay. If you’ve been told otherwise, re-examine your UVP. Get started now!

Were you surprised by your ECS?

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How to Be Creative Matching Your Skills to a Job

3 Trends that Can Lead to Work You’ll Love

3 minutes to read

For corpsmen and information services technicians, similar civilian jobs are obvious. But if you were an 11B (infantry) or 13B (cannon crewmember), what can you do for the private sector? Input your MOS at Vets.gov Military Skills Translator. You get skills such as contingency planning, team coordination, and hands-on training. All good, but what do you do with them?

How to Be Creative Matching Your Skills to a Job

Look Beyond Your First Post-Military Job

Even for a 68W or HM (or a 25B or IT) job prospects may not be clear. You may want to change your line of work.

From navigating your military career, you know some MOSs and ratings have better potential than others. Maybe you got out because your military specialty had no room for advancement. You don’t want to get into the same situation with a civilian job. So how do you avoid a dead-end position?

Predicting the future can be tricky at best. No matter how well you assess trends, unexpected developments can upset your plans. Luck plays a part in selecting one that will pan out. So you’ll do best by choosing a trend that interests you and matches your skills.

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Below are three trends that don’t involve technology. For each one, I suggest a couple of related jobs. Think about what your daily life would be like doing such work. Then look at how your skills might fit. If you haven’t done so yet, read my post on assessing your skills.

Get Creative Matching Your Interest and Skills

I’ve found a lot of veterans like to work with their hands. If that includes you, these trends play into your strengths:

1. Analog. People aren’t throwing away their iPods and Kindles. But, vinyl record sales hit a 25-year high in 2016. Print book sales grew over 3% last year, the third consecutive annual increase. By contrast, e-books sales declined 4% after being flat the year before. With the return of records, people have bought turntables and album storage racks. They need bookcases for their hardcovers and paperbacks.

11Bs and 13Bs maintain rifles and howitzers. As a result, they have a high level of mechanical ability. CBs build stuff. Do you like working with motors and mechanical gadgets or carpentry? You may find a home in the emerging analog world.

2. Disintermediation. Middlemen have been eliminated from many categories of consumer transactions during the last 25 years. Travel agents got wiped out by the Internet. Uber and Airbnb have continued this trend through more sophisticated technology. But other companies are less high-tech. Imperfect Produce has removed food wholesalers and grocery stores from the supply chain. It sources fruits and vegetable from farmers and delivers them to customers’ homes.

Personal chefs cut out restaurants. They plan, cook, and deliver meals to busy professionals who want healthy food tailored to their likes. Are you a 92A, LS, or YN? You may find a home at companies like Imperfect Produce. 92Gs and CSs might like life as a personal chef.

3. Craft and Local. If you like beer, you know about the return of craft. The U.S. has over 4,000 craft breweries. Craft distilleries will soon top 1300. Part of the attraction of craft is it’s local. And booze isn’t the sole home of craft. Over the last decade, Ohio has become home to more than 200 furniture makers. Most building custom-made pieces. Other states, like California with its “Made in CA” program, have joined the trend.

Craft has made big inroads in food production. Made-to-order has captured a growing segment of the clothing business. Was your MOS 91 or 92 or your rating LS, SH, or CS? Consider working in a craft and local.

None of these trends are carved in stone. But they all harken back to a time of greater human contact and authenticity. Embodying such timeless needs, they might be the ideal place for you to spend the rest of your working life. Check them out now.

Where can your job-hunt fit into one of these trends?

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Are You Competitive Using this Simple Job-Hunting Tool?

How to Write an Elevator Pitch that Delivers Results

3 minutes to read

As you go through daily life, people will ask you what job you’re looking for. To capture their attention and increase the likelihood they’ll help you, create a brief summary of your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). It’s called an elevator pitch because you can say it in length of an elevator ride.

Are You Competitive Using this Simple Job-Hunting Tool-

Make It Straightforward

Besides chance encounters, you can also use your elevator pitch in informationals. It gives you a natural response when the person asks about you. And, it will serve as an ideal answer to the first question you’ll usually get at a meeting to discuss a job.

Make it simple, not clever. People outside your field need to understand it. Give it a conversational tone. Practice saying it but avoid sounding prepared and sales-like. Change the wording when rehearsing so you have two or three ways of saying the same thing. Target at least one to people outside your field and another to those in it.

You’ll find advice that says an elevator pitch ought to range from 15 seconds to three minutes. Don’t worry about the precise length. First, create a short version of a single sentence. Pare it down to only essential words. Then build a long version of 200-300 words, piggybacking it on the short one. This longer one will answer, “so tell me about yourself” or “why should I hire you?”

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Begin by getting crystal clear about your UVP. You can’t write an effective elevator pitch when you don’t know what you have to offer and the job you want.

A Competitive Job-Hunt Sells Benefits not Skills

Build your elevator pitch in three parts:

1. Benefit. Start by breaking their expectations. Say something different and authentically you. Until you get the person to relate to you as an individual rather than a stranger nothing else matters. Use your status as a veteran but turn the tables on how people think about us. For example, “I’m a veteran. After five years of having my fellow citizens take care of me, I'm looking to bring my skills and experience to the private sector for their benefit.” How many civilians ever heard a statement of service like that?

Once you have the person’s attention, introduce the most compelling problem you’ve found in your field. Identify the type of organization you’re looking to serve and what it needs. Craft your words in a way the person will identify with the problem. Pose it as a question. This will engage his mind searching for an answer.

Next, give your solution. In most cases, that means someone with your background solving the problem. This gives you the opportunity to state the job you want.

2. Unique. You’ve shown how you can benefit the type of organization you want to work for. Now, make the case for you specifically. Examine your UVP. Choose one accomplishment that stands you head and shoulders above the competition. Form a powerful phrase explaining what you did. If possible, use a metric.

In your long version, follow it with a statement or quote that will cause them to nod their heads in agreement. Relate it to a well-known problem in the field. Say it in a way that explains why you care about solving the problem.

3. Ask. You have the person’s attention. He knows the kind of job you want and the type of organization you can help. Most people stop here.

To be competitive, take it to the next level by making it clear what you need. If the person works at the kind of company where you want a job, ask for a meeting. Don’t get into specifics right then and there. Set it up for later in the week or the following week at his workplace. Among other reasons, this will give you time to research the company and plan how you’ll handle the meeting.

Often you won’t be speaking with someone involved in your field. As such, ask, “What advice do you have for me?” or “Who do you know that I should contact?” Direct the person to how he can best help you. In all cases, get the person’s card or contact information so you can follow-up.

Once you have your short and long versions, practice them so you sound conversational but not canned. Record yourself then listen and critique your performance. Try your elevator pitch out on someone who knows nothing about your field. Does what you say make sense?

Work until you can give your elevator pitch comfortably. Now you’re a competitive job-hunter. You’ve taken your first major leap toward getting a position you’ll love.

What distinguishes you for other job-hunters?

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Three Reasons You Need an Outstanding Resume

You Won’t Guess Any of Them

2-½ minutes to read

Most experts acknowledge your resume won’t get you a job. But, they say, an outstanding resume should get you an interview. The mere fact these experts tell you to aim for an interview tells you their mindset. You’re a beggar hoping and praying to get called in. (See my post on why you want a meeting not an interview.) Though the conventional reason is wrong, you still need a dynamite resume.

Three Reasons You Need an Outstanding Resume

It's not about getting you a job or even an interview. Your resume clarifies the tactical plan you need to follow to get the job you want.

The Internet Is Your Resume

Resume experts focus on how to write a resume that will get through an Automated Tracking System. Most ATSs select about 2% of candidates. In other words, the experts want you taking 1 in 50 shots at getting the 20% of jobs that companies advertise. Smart job-hunters don’t need a resume for this purpose.

Your online presence is your real resume. When a hiring manager or recruiter wants to size you up for a job, he’ll look at LinkedIn. So it seems like you could print out a copy of your LinkedIn profile and use it for a resume. If only it were so easy.

First, your LinkedIn profile should contain much more information than your resume. Think of LinkedIn as the documentary of your professional prospects. Then your resume is the preview of coming attraction. Second, LinkedIn is formatted for online viewing. It will look terrible printed out.

The good news is you don’t have to start from scratch. A solid LinkedIn profile should be the foundation for an outstanding resume. That way, you brand yourself, by sending a consistent message about the value you’ll bring to an organization.

Without Clarity, You Can’t Sell Yourself

So, you’ll need to spend time putting together an outstanding resume for three reasons:

  1. Some companies will ask you for it, either to prepare to meet with you or at the meeting itself to paper their file.
  1. When you’re networking face-to-face someone may ask you for your resume. In that case you want to have printed copies available right then and there. Have them in matching envelopes so they’ll stay clean and get less rumpled. When you give the person your resume, make sure to get his contact information and an appropriate time to follow up. This will help you gauge his seriousness in helping you and show your professionalism.
  1. MOST important, writing an outstanding resume will spell out your marketing message. Think broadly about the type of job you want. Consider the specific organization where you want to work. Then clarify your thinking by writing down a clear and succinct presentation of your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) targeted to a job category or company. When done, you'll have a plan to drill so you present yourself more articulately at a meeting to discuss a job.

Most job-hunters wing it when they speak with a hiring manager. They don’t take the time to write down why they’re the best candidate. By using your resume as your marketing plan, you’ll stay on message.

Forget ATSs and interviews. Write an outstanding resume so you have complete clarity about the value you'll deliver to an organization. And so you can communicate that value with confidence.

Does your resume give you clarity about how to sell your UVP?

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How to Put an Amazing Job in Your Destiny

Unlock Your Edge with This Proven Breakthrough Quality

2 minutes to read

When you meet with a hiring manager, do you KNOW you’re the best candidate for the job? Think about it. How would you feel when choosing a surgeon? If the doctor didn’t show the self-confidence that comes from being the best, would you want him operating on you? Of course not. The stakes are too high. Employers think the same way. A company will only risk choosing a lesser candidate if it can underpay him.

How to Put an Amazing Job in Your Destiny

Why Self-Confidence Matters

RABS! How can you suggest such vanity?! Good question. But if you’re the best candidate it’s not conceited to say so. When the message is true, modesty comes from the way you send it.

The most admirable athletes combine two qualities:

  • An obsessive desire to excel.
  • Humility about their accomplishments.

Look at the 10 greatest basketball players of all time. All fit this model. None are braggarts. Even when Lebron James declared himself the best player in the world, he conveyed no bravado.

Right now say out loud, “I’m the best candidate for this job.” Do you sound as certain and matter-of-fact as Lebron James? Anything less and you send the message, “Choose somebody else.” If you don’t have the self-knowledge and confidence, where will the hiring manager get it?

You want stability. What would you think if a company told you, “We don’t know if our business is competitive in the marketplace. There may be other companies that make a better product than we do.” You’d hesitate about going to work there. After all, if they think the competition can clobber them, what kind of job security would you have? You shouldn’t have to convince them they’re great.

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Companies want security and stability too. They want an employee who will deliver value. Someone they can rely on. You need to convince them you will deliver these by being self-confident.

Self-Confidence Produces Your Destiny

You can boost your self-confidence in two ways:

Clarity. Begin by knowing your purpose and mission. Ensure your goals align with them. Be crystal clear on your Unique Value Proposition. Have a simple yet powerful way of explaining it to an employer. When you have this level of clarity, you sound, in fact are, self-confident.

Preparation. Thoroughly research the company. Know its market, future plans, and challenges. Identify any gaps so you can get the additional information you need. Know nothings and know-it-alls look the same, insecure. Actually, the know-it-all is worse. He appears to be compensating for a weakness. To sound confident, express thoughts without hesitating and ask questions without embarrassment.

Know the questions you need to ask during the meeting. Have a written list. Practice saying them so you can do so while looking at the other person. Know how to get to the company. Check in advance where to park. Video yourself practicing what you’ll say so you can identify and correct weaknesses.

You and the organization want the same thing – security and stability. So when a company presents an uncertain future, you become wary. And when you look insecure, you give another candidate the edge. Get clarity and obsess about preparation. An amazing job will be in your destiny.

What makes you less than self-confident about meeting to discuss a job?

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