Category Archives: Finances

How to Get a Company to Give You the Job

2-½ minutes to read

It’s aggravating when you’re not asked to come talk about a job. It’s worse going to a bunch of meetings and still not landing one. Nothing fuels self-doubt more than having a great meeting with the hiring manager, walking away feeling it’s in the bag, only to have the phone remain silent. If you keep coming up short you’re committing job search sin #8: Not asking for the job if you want it or not following up properly or at all.

How to Get a Company to Give You the Job 

When You Want the Job, Ask

To a large extent, job hunting is a numbers game. If you have been diligent about identifying your skills, understanding your passion, and determining market demand you will get a job. When you work from the inside, as I suggested in last week’s post, you’ll reduce the time it takes. But you’re not going to be offered every job you apply for. You may not get offered any of them if another candidate has the gumption to ask at the end of a meeting, “given everything we’ve discussed, can you offer me the job?”

The company may choose to speak with all candidates before making a decision. But the hiring manager may not want to risk losing an excellent employee. So if a previous candidate makes his wishes clear, you’ll be out of luck.

It seems so basic. But a lot of veterans don't do it. If you want the job, ask for it.

The purpose of the meeting is for you and the hiring manager to assess the mutual benefit of your working there. When you ask for the job it should be clear you believe this is good for you AND the company.

You won’t be ruled out for making your assessment clear. Nor will it impact your position when negotiating compensation. In most cases, such decisiveness will work to your advantage.

If the hiring manager doesn’t see the fit, aren’t you better off knowing immediately. And if he disagrees with your assessment or doesn’t like your assertiveness what does that bode about a future work situation?

Alleviating the Fear of Asking

Asking for the job can have three results:

  1. No, you’re not the person we’re looking for. Great, you know where you stand. Perhaps you thought the meeting went well. Was your perception correct? Ask questions. The hiring manager may be reluctant to discuss the matter. If the reasons sound harsh he may have legal concerns. Ask for suggestions on how you can improve for your next meeting.
  2. No, not right now. Great, you know you’re still in the running.
  3. Yes. Great! You got the job!

There is no downside to asking for a job you want. You may feel uncomfortable. Practice what you’ll say. Stand or sit in front of a mirror and watch yourself. Better, rehearse with a friend and video yourself. Before long you won’t feel awkward.

If the company needs time, make a plan to follow up. What happens next in the process? Will they be assessing the people they spoke with? Or will there be a second or third meeting? What is the timeline? Be polite but don’t leave matters vague.

Establish the latest that you can expect to hear back. Confirm you can follow up after that time. Do so, even if you’ve found another job in the meantime. Show you follow through. Don’t burn any bridges.

Within a day of the meeting send a handwritten thank you. A quick email right after is fine. A card or note the person will keep on his desk keeps you front of mind.

If you got a flat out no, before you leave the meeting ask for referrals to other companies looking for someone with your qualifications. Most people don’t like rejecting a candidate so they’ll be happy to help if they can. You can’t lose anything by asking.

To get the job you want you’ll have to ask for it. Most likely, you’ll have to ask more than once. A proper follow plan and execution will make the process easier and more comfortable.

Do you think it’s better to know right away if you didn’t get a job?

Please comment on this question or ask another question below.

How to Be Proactive Hunting for a Job

3 minutes to read

With all the time and effort you spent writing your resume how come your phone doesn’t ring off the hook? Maybe you paid a professional resume writer to review or edit it. You posted it dozens, even hundreds, of times on Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com, and every company website you could find. Still no luck. After months of searching, you’re ready to give up. You’re committing job search sin #6: Thinking all you have to do is post your resume on job boards.

How to Be Proactive Hunting for a Job 

How the Internet Makes Getting a Job Harder

It seems the Internet has made searching for employment easier. You can get information on thousands of jobs while sitting in front of your computer. Job boards give you the ability to search all kinds of parameters so you can find exactly what you want. Then you can submit your paperwork online. And there you have it. The requests to have you interview should roll in.

While this sounds logical, it ignores one basic issue. Hunting for a job used to be a local matter. This limited the applicant pool to people who lived reasonably close to the company. The Internet turned almost every employee search into a national one. Before your competition was the town or city. Now it’s the entire United States.

Since 2008 between 118 and 250 people have applied for each job. The cost to apply for a job seems low. Just fill out an application and submit it with your resume. With so many applicants, employers have to efficiently sift out the best. They turned to automated Applicant Tracking System, which screen resumes to eliminate up to 50% before a human will look at them. As many as 20% of those not ruled out will get an interview. But often only three to six people get called. Of these, at least one or two will usually be internal referrals.

So a lot more people are applying. You and the employer are passive participants in the beginning of such a job hunt. Unless you can consistently convey your unique qualities to a machine you’ll be overlooked. Those on the inside have a bigger advantage than ever before because they circumvent the automated screening.

Can you say deck stacked against you? Only 4% to 10% of people who use the post and pray method exclusively get a job that way. One expert says it’s closer to 0.4%.

Adopt Proactive Hunting

Can we agree you should stop spamming job boards with your resume? Then you’ll have plenty of time to do what does work:

  1. Focus on LinkedIn. In 2014, 94% of recruiters were active on LinkedIn but only 36% of job seekers were. On Facebook, 65% of recruiters are active but 83% of job seekers are there. LinkedIn is designed to showcase your professional credentials. Which gives you the better odds?
  2. Optimize your profile. Don’t think of LinkedIn as on online resume. Listing the billets you had is useless. Start with the summary. What value can you deliver to an employer? What does your target job look like? When describing your military service emphasize your accomplishments. How did you help the command meet its mission? What improvements did you make to personnel and processes? Quantify them.  Use Matthew Fritz's guide, Leveraging Your LinkedIn Profile for Success.
  3. Provide evidence. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, video’s worth a million. Do you have a two-minute clip of you doing the kind of work you’d do for an employer? Post it. Have you written an article that got published? Post it. Likewise with whatever you have that demonstrates your expertise. If you don’t have anything, create it.
  4. Endorsements. Post excerpts from your performance evaluations (FITREPs, evals, etc.). Get testimonials from the highest-ranking people you can. Civilians equate generals and admirals to CEOs. Include impressive job titles like Wing Commander or Commanding Officer. Have your endorsers focus on achievements related to specific skills.
  5. Make strategic connections. Find the thought leaders for the business or industry you want to work in. Connect with them. Build relationships. Read my six posts on cultivating relationships starting with How to Go from Contact to Relationship.

Besides decreasing the time it takes you to get a job, following these steps will improve your career progression.

Posting resumes to job boards fits the rigidity of the military mindset. But it doesn’t work in the open-ended, ad hoc, civilian world. The longer you wait to alter your plan of attack, the more your enthusiasm will wane.

Relationships will deliver the job you want. Next week I’ll talk about how.

What prevents you from being proactive in your job search? Please comment below.

How to Control the Image You Project to Employers

3 minutes to read

During a meeting to discuss a job, have you gotten that eerie feeling? The person seems to know A LOT about you. But how? You’ve never mentioned your ex, politics, or that crazy night vacationing in Cancun. Or maybe you can’t get a meeting to save your life. Why are you persona non grata? You’re committing job search sin #5: Considering what you post on social media to be off limits from employers.

How to Control the Image You Project to Employers

You Have No Privacy Online

Sixty percent of organizations check out a candidate’s social media presence. (Another source says 84%.) If you’re looking for an information technology job, the number leaps to 76%. This includes the usual suspects of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. But they may also check out Instagram, Pinterest, and other less obvious places. Whatever turns up on a Google search, prospective employers will see. Almost half of hiring managers have rejected a candidate because of something they found out online.

Among the biggest red flags are:

  • Inappropriate pictures. Think about your last deployment. Your significant other may have gotten mad. A hiring manager may reject you out of hand.
  • Drinking or drug usage. Civilian employers assume veterans are reliable and mature. Why do you want to present an image that disproves this belief?
  • Badmouthing a former employer. Your time in the military may have been less than ideal. Fair enough. Take the good parts and move forward. Bellyaching online shows a potential employer what you’ll do if things don’t work out. Often they won’t take the risk on you.
  • Discriminatory comments. Just like in the military, biased remarks don’t fly with civilians. Everyone is entitled to respectful treatment.
  • Politics. A dose of modesty goes a long way here. Most companies have a politically diverse workforce. The boss may agree with your perspective. But that doesn’t mean he wants such a divisive subject brought into the workplace. Confine your opinions to close friends. By the way, Facebook friends don’t fit this definition.
  • Bad communication skills. Spelling, syntax, and grammar count, online and when speaking. Always communicate your thoughts well. Scrub your social media as thoroughly as your resume.

You won’t know who will review your online presence. Nor will you know when. But you can be sure a majority of employers will scrutinize your social media profiles to find out who you are.

Control the Image You Project

Since you’ll be checked out online, you need to present yourself properly:

  1. Search your name. What comes up when you Google your name with and without your middle initial? I got 30 times as many hits searching “Kevin S. Bemel” as “Kevin Bemel”. And much older information came up in the first search. You may have a common name. Is something someone else did making you look bad?
  2. Review all your social media profiles. You may think your profiles are private. That doesn’t mean they are. Employers won’t hack your accounts. And you may not have to give them your passwords. Nonetheless, verify that non-friends are restricted from viewing your Facebook and Twitter profiles. But keep in mind, policies for these platforms change all the time. Better to treat them as you would any public site.
  3. Identify negative information. Whether it’s about you or someone with the same name, you need to determine which hits are negative. Make sure you look beyond the first page or two of results. Most people don’t but that doesn’t mean an enterprising HR person won’t.
  4. Get rid of what you can, explain the rest. Remove any posts that fit one of the red flag descriptions. If you don’t control the site, contact the webmaster or owner of the site. Make the case for their removing the material. Have verifiable explanations for any derogatory items you cannot delete. It will take time. We all have to pay the piper.

Keep in mind, you’ve only gotten rid of the negative material. I’ll talk about optimizing your online presence to support finding a job in my next post.

You’re responsible for your online image and how it impacts your job search. The information, pictures, and videos you post reveal your character and ability. Even if a friend has published something on your profile, you choose whether it stays or goes. Take control of the image you project to employers. Start now.

What experience have you had with employers checking your social media profiles? Please comment below.

4 Things You Need Besides Skills to Get a Job

3 minutes to read

You came out of the military with marketable skills. Or, you took the time to figure out how to use your military expertise in civilian life. You may have gotten a degree, even an advanced one. Then you earned additional certifications. Your resume describes every skill in detail. Yet application after application goes unanswered. And you received no or negative responses after the few interviews you’ve gotten. You’re committing job search sin #4: Believing it is or should be about having the right skills.

3 minutes to read You came out of the military with marketable skills. Or, you took the time to figure out how to use your military expertise in civilian life. You may have gotten a degree, even an advanced one. Then you earned additional certifications. Your resume describes every skill in detail. Yet application after application goes unanswered. And you received no or negative responses after the few interviews you’ve gotten. You’re committing job search sin #4: Believing it is or should be about having the right skills. Meritocracy Isn’t What You Think Coming out of the military environment, it seems like the person with the best skills should get the job. After all, if a company’s employees have the top aptitude it will be the best in its market. But consider. How many times did you have a colleague who was a genius at what it took to get the job done but was a pain in the neck to deal with? Maybe he was lazy, uncooperative, or had a bad attitude. Did you want to work with him day after day? Who would you rather have on your rifle team? An expert marksman who only thinks about himself or a sharpshooter 100% dedicated to the team? The military and businesses talk about merit. But they don’t mean a system where the person with the best skills gets the job. Both want the people who will most effectively help them meet their missions. Without solid skills, you’ll get nowhere. But at best your expertise gets your foot in the door. Beyond Skills You Need Less Tangible Qualities Besides technical mastery, employers look for four key traits: 1. Dedication to the organization’s mission and values. Given that you’ll have many civilian jobs and even careers, this may seem strange. Why should employers seek loyalty they don’t give? Notice I said to its mission and values, not to the organization itself. You’re right that you won’t stay there your whole career. The company knows that too. But while you work at an organization it wants your buy-in and commitment to its goals and how it pursues them. 2. Cultural fit. The military has a distinct culture. Indeed each branch has its own traditions, jargon, and way of doing things. The same goes for civilian businesses. Until 30 or 40 years ago the two overlapped. But as the World War II Generation moved out of the workforce, business culture changed. Today, unless an industry employs a high percentage of veterans, the culture will seem foreign. You need to learn something about a company’s way of doing things and customs before you apply there. And if you have a meeting to discuss a job you’ll have to show you fit in. 3. Commitment to teamwork. Though you may decide to be a solotreperneur, success will depend on your being a team player. Nothing lucrative happens without interaction with others. Coming from the military this shouldn’t surprise you. Even the sniper has a team backing him up and setting the stage for his success. Do prospective employers know how well you work with others? Or do you leave them guessing? 4. Understanding wealth comes from value delivered. Civilian companies don’t carry dead weight. Every employee must deliver value. You have to know how the company serves its clients. Then you need to articulate how you can improve that service when you get the job. You can learn the details once you get hired. But to get hired you must show you understand the concept and how it applies at the organization’s strategic level. Wealth comes from value delivered ↔ For the company and you. It takes time to research a company’s mission, values, and culture. You’ll have to make the investment if you want the job. We’ll confront this issue again in sin #6. Keep in mind, companies can train their employees in new or better skills. Changing their employee’s mindset is difficult at best. When a hiring manager sees you have these four traits, you put yourself far above the competition. Which mindset issue hinders your job hunt? Please comment below. 

Meritocracy Isn’t What You Think

Coming out of the military environment, it seems like the person with the best skills should get the job. After all, if a company’s employees have the top aptitude it will be the best in its market.

But consider. How many times did you have a colleague who was a genius at what it took to get the job done but was a pain in the neck to deal with? Maybe he was lazy, uncooperative, or had a bad attitude. Did you want to work with him day after day?

Who would you rather have on your rifle team? An expert marksman who only thinks about himself or a sharpshooter 100% dedicated to the team?

The military and businesses talk about merit. But they don’t mean a system where the person with the best skills gets the job. Both want the people who will most effectively help them meet their missions. Without solid skills, you’ll get nowhere. But at best your expertise gets your foot in the door.

Beyond Skills You Need Less Tangible Qualities

Besides technical mastery, employers look for four key traits:

  1. Dedication to the organization’s mission and values. Given that you’ll have many civilian jobs and even careers, this may seem strange. Why should employers seek loyalty they don’t give? Notice I said to its mission and values, not to the organization itself. You’re right that you won’t stay there your whole career. The company knows that too. But while you work at an organization it wants your buy-in and commitment to its goals and how it pursues them.
  2. Cultural fit. The military has a distinct culture. Indeed each branch has its own traditions, jargon, and way of doing things. The same goes for civilian businesses. Until 30 or 40 years ago the two overlapped. But as the World War II Generation moved out of the workforce, business culture changed. Today, unless an industry employs a high percentage of veterans, the culture will seem foreign. You need to learn something about a company’s way of doing things and customs before you apply there. And if you have a meeting to discuss a job you’ll have to show you fit in.
  3. Commitment to teamwork. Though you may decide to be a solotreperneur, success will depend on your being a team player. Nothing lucrative happens without interaction with others. Coming from the military this shouldn’t surprise you. Even the sniper has a team backing him up and setting the stage for his success. Do prospective employers know how well you work with others? Or do you leave them guessing?
  4. Understanding wealth comes from value delivered. Civilian companies don’t carry dead weight. Every employee must deliver value. You have to know how the company serves its clients. Then you need to articulate how you can improve that service when you get the job. You can learn the details once you get hired. But to get hired you must show you understand the concept and how it applies at the organization’s strategic level. Wealth comes from value delivered ↔ For the company and you.

It takes time to research a company’s mission, values, and culture. You’ll have to make the investment if you want the job. We’ll confront this issue again in sin #6.

Keep in mind, companies can train their employees in new or better skills. Changing an employee's mindset is difficult at best. When a hiring manager sees you have these four traits, you put yourself far above the competition.

Which mindset issue hinders your job hunt? Please comment below.

How to Get a Job Without Being an Egomaniac

3 minutes to read

After your tenth call goes unreturned or the 50th time you’re overlooked for an interview, it’s easy to think civilians don’t care. It’s demoralizing when a non-veteran gets a job that fits you perfectly. A few months of such striking out makes maintaining a positive attitude tough. You start thinking HR people and hiring managers just talk a good game about hiring vets. They don’t come through when it counts. You’re committing job search sin #3: Treating civilians as liars when they say they support veterans.

How to Get a Job Without Being an Egomaniac

The Path to Egomania

A veteran I’ll call Steve (not his real name) told me about his search. He’d been trying to get a job for almost a year. One HR person told him he didn’t have the right qualifications. Another for a similar job said he was overqualified. Time after time he got passed over. In the end, he concluded that civilians were liars. “They don’t want to help us. They just say that to make themselves feel good.”

I asked, “Do you think you’ve successfully hidden your attitude toward civilians?” He admitted they likely picked up on it. “What do you think about a civilian who considers all service members are PTSD time bombs? Would you want to work with such a person?” He told me no. “Why would civilians want to work with you when you have such a bad attitude toward them?”

Steve’s response explained why he hadn’t gotten a job. “Because I’m right and they’re wrong.”

You may think Steve is an extreme example. But replace the word liar with dishonest, lazy, or another derogatory term. Can you honestly say that you’ve never thought or said such a thing about civilians? The military held you to a high standard of conduct. Appalling cases of civilian misconduct make the news. But don’t get fooled into thinking this reflects on the typical non-veteran.

Once you let your ego convince you to scorn the people you’ll have to work with you’re doomed.

Put Your Self-Confidence in the Right Place

You need to gain perspective to solve this issue. Step back and look at the broader picture. Veterans haven’t been as well respected and treated since the end of World War II. And maybe not even then. Plenty of people in the late 1940s complained about service members coming home and stealing their jobs and girls. Have you heard such complaints?

Think about it this way. Suppose you go to China to get a job. No matter how clearly you speak English, the Chinese hiring manager person won’t understand you (unless he does too). If he hasn’t spent any time in the military how can he know how to evaluate your skills and experience?

Americans want to help veterans. But since so few have served in the military they don’t understand what you did. Most of what they know comes from movies and television. How realistic is that?

Instead of complaining about civilians, consider having empathy for them. Help them help you.

  • When a civilian thanks you for your service, thank him back for being supportive. Taxpayers paid your salary and for your equipment. What were you fighting for if not the wellbeing of your fellow citizens?
  • Take the time to tell civilians about your experiences. Okay, not the bonehead who asks you if you killed anyone. Tell them about something they never saw on TV, like the flight deck of your ship freezing over. Or what it was like providing humanitarian assistance after a disaster.
  • Drop the military jargon, or explain it. When you’re meeting with someone about a job, don’t expect the person to understand what a NCO. Most people your age in civilian life don’t have the opportunity to shoulder the level of responsibility you did. You need to explain the value of the equipment you looked after and/or the lives for whom you were responsible. Some civilians love to learn military terminology. Share a couple of your (clean) favorites.

Instead of letting your self-confidence turn into non-productive egotism, use it to your advantage. Project self-assurance when you talk about your knowledge, skills, and leadership ability. When you show a civilian the image of what he thinks a service member ought to be you’ll get the job you want.

What can you do to convey the right attitude during your job search? Please comment below.

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