Category Archives: Transitions

Do You have a Clear Image of Your Future Life?

How to Reinvent Yourself as a Successful Civilian

2-½ minutes to read

When a service member tells me he’s leaving the military I ask him what steps he’s taken to prepare. “I have to get my resume together.” Then I ask him where he wants to work. He gives a generic answer rather than specific companies. When I ask what he wants civilian life to be like you can hear crickets chirping. The confused look on his face says he hasn’t thought about it at all. Imagine getting the order to launch an attack before getting your objective. Can you say useless effort with collateral damage?

Do You have a Clear Image of Your Future Life-

Your Past Is Not Your Destiny

Remember the film epic Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World? Starring Russell Crowe, it brought the British Navy adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin to the big screen. The movie is fun to watch. But it ignores the common characteristic that drove Aubrey and Maturin. Both faced many transitions.

The author of the Aubrey-Maturin books knew something about transformation. Most people know Patrick O’Brian as an Irishman experienced with square-rigged sailing ships. Neither of these facts is correct. Richard Patrick Russ was English by birth. He grew up in poverty and unhappiness. Rarely did he set foot on a ship.

After World War II, he decided to change his life. He began by creating Patrick O’Brian, an expatriate Irish writer living in the south of France. His legal change of name took a few months. Realization of his new persona took decades. Through decades of writing, he developed a reputation for mastery of nautical matters.

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On his death in 2000, the world eulogized the Irishman Patrick O’Brian. People accepted his tales of experiences on sailing ships. All despite reporters having uncovered his secret years before.

A Clear Image Will Drive Your Transition

O’Brian should be a mentor for every veteran. During World War II he stopped identifying himself with who he didn’t want to be. Coming out of the war he created a compelling self-image. He spent the rest of his life engaged in making it a reality.

Although O’Brian’s first marriage ended in divorce, he prized marital harmony. He was loving and attentive to his second wife. Hard work made his 53-year marriage happy.

He believed in the benefits of an intellectual life. Writing, books, and learning had inestimable value. He had only middling financial success for most of his life. But O’Brian and his wife enjoyed what money he earned and shared simple pleasures with friends. Financial success did not come until well into his eighties.

Like O’Brian, you have the ability to transition out of the military into the civilian you want to be. Without a well-defined mental picture to pursue, other people will direct the steps you take. But once you create a self-image, your transition will stay on target.

You can:

  • Focus time on getting a job at an organization that fits who you are.
  • Be clear about the new friends and colleagues you want to have.
  • Know where to spend your time to have the life you that will make you happy.

Follow Patrick O’Brian’s, ne Richard Russ’s, example. You don’t need to change your name. Nor do you have to get a divorce. Fulfillment begins with the intentional crafting of the civilian you’ll be and the life you’ll live.

What is your priority for having a happy civilian life?

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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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How to Break Through to the Life You Want

Are You Drilling the One Fundamental for Success?

2 minutes to read

When you joined the military you didn’t have all the skills you needed for success. You may have had to learn to march, fire a rifle on target, or build stamina. Whatever the challenge, you drilled it. Sooner or later you had a breakthrough. You adjusted to military life, advanced in rank, and achieved success. Civilian life works the same way.

How to Break Through to the Life You Want

Same Process Different Mission

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Since the military clearly defines its mission, you knew exactly what you had to do. And your drill instructor gave you consistent feedback so you could improve. Every service branch embodies the three fundamentals for achieving success:

  1. Purpose
  2. Mission
  3. Deliberate Practice

Two weeks ago you read about the importance of purpose. Your service branch indoctrinated your purpose. It made you a soldier, Marine, sailor, airman, or coastguardsman. What good would all the drilling have done without a coherent idea of the kind of warfighter your service branch needed? It may not have seemed so at the time. But basic training implanted purpose in your life.

To transition to civilian life, you need to adjust or redefine your purpose.

Once you know who you’ll be, you can tackle what you want to accomplish. Like with purpose, you need to swap your military mission for one in civilian life.

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All the work you do reintegrating into civilian life will be worthless until you know what to drill. You can’t break through a barrier if you don’t know where to head.

Break Through in Small Steps

Once you know what you want, you can determine which skills you lack for getting it. If you’re changing fields, you may need a degree or certificate. But you never had to job-hunt in the military. So you need some of the job-hunting and life navigation abilities civilians learn naturally. Once you identify which ones, you can drill them to reach mastery.

Every civilian who gained exceptional success used a process called deliberate practice. It has five elements:

  1. Designed to improve a small aspect of performance.
  2. Repeated at high volume.
  3. Constantly engaged mentally while practicing.
  4. Stretched beyond enjoyment.
  5. Consistently received corrective feedback.

They look identical to the military, don’t they? Apply them the way your drill instructors did during basic training.

Let’s say you don’t feel confident during a meeting to discuss a job. Use deliberate practice to master this skill. Begin by breaking it down into small pieces:

  1. Addressing the receptionist on arrival.
  2. Meeting the hiring manager.
  3. The first 30 to 120 seconds.
  4. Responding to the five most common questions.
  5. Asking relevant questions that show your professional expertise and interest.

And so on…

Work with a more experienced fellow veteran, a mentor, or a coach. Drill deliberate practice until you can perform with confidence. Now you have the formula to break through to the life you want.

How can you apply deliberate practice to improve your transition?

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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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