Category Archives: Transitions

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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How to Connect with Any Civilian You Meet

An Easy Way to Continue Your Legacy of Service

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Tetzaveh - Exodus 27:20-30:10

Recently I flew on Alaska Airlines. It’s military friendly. You don’t pay baggage fees. Sometimes you can board with the first class passengers. And, you get the obligatory thanks for your service. The gate agent didn’t sound sincere. But, Parsha Tetzaveh explains why I accepted his thanks anyway:

“And you will command the Children of Israel and they will take for you olive oil, clear, crushed for illumination; to light a lamp continually.” (Shemos/Exodus 27:20).

How to Connect with Any Civilian You Meet

This Sabbath’s parsha begins by explaining the mitzvah of the Ner Tamid, the lamp that must always stay lit. Then it describes how to make and use the garments for the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and the Kohanim. Next, it goes over the mitzvah of the korban tamid or continual offering. It ends with how to build and use the incense altar, the Holy of Holies.

G-d Let’s Us Pay Our Debt

G-d groups the Ner Tamid with other offerings. So the Almighty must intend it as an offering of light to Him. But why does the Creator need light, even at night?

In fact, G-d doesn’t need light. But think about a sighted person who helps a blind person get home. Even though the blind person doesn’t need light, the sighted person asks him to light a lamp. He says, “Please do this so you won’t have to feel indebted to me for what I have done for you. Now you have done me a favor.” The Creator gave us light. He could have let us feel indebted every minute of daylight. Instead, He asked us to provide eternal light for Him.

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Unfortunately, sometimes people resent your doing something nice for them. They feel indebted or guilty. True kindness entails giving and receiving with no ulterior motive or expectation of anything in return. But rather than risk bad feelings, it’s better to let people “pay” you back.

Think Connect When a Civilian Thanks You

Some of the veterans I speak with resent civilians who thanks them for their service. They feel such words are insincere. They’d prefer people said nothing.

You may not have joined the military solely to serve. Educational or other benefits may have motivated you. There’s nothing wrong with that. Congress, on behalf of the American people, made them part of our compensation. Still, many of our fellow citizens feel a personal obligation toward veterans.

They know you did things they did not or could not do. Receiving a person’s gratitude allows him to discharge that debt. His words may not sound genuine to you. It would be better if a civilian said thanks in a way that sounded sincere. Even so, kindness requires accepting his appreciation.

Ideally, civilians should be content to let you serve for your personal reasons. They shouldn’t burden you with expressions of gratitude that don’t ring true. Allowing your fellow citizens to get rid of feeling indebted or guilty may make your transition harder. As a service member, you went the extra mile. Do it again. Connect with people in civilian life by accepting their thanks.

Question – Does it bother you when people thank you for your service?

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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!

Are You Ignoring the Truth about Professional Success?

How to Change from a Military to Civilian Mindset

2 minutes to read

The unexamined life is not worth living ∞ Socrates

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Come on, don’t roll your eyes. The image staring back stands between you and everything you want in life. Is it professional success, a stronger marriage, closer relationships with your kids? You can have them all when your purpose includes being the preeminent professional, a devoted spouse, and an engaged parent.

Are You Ignoring the Truth about Professional Success?

Migrate Your Purpose from Military to Civilian

Each service branch creates an image of the people who serve in it. The Marine Corps has been especially effective doing this. You’ve heard of “The Few, The Proud.”

You may not have realized it at the time. But basic training aligned your purpose with that of your service branch. A lot of the ongoing training you received reinforced this purpose. Indeed, many veterans never alter their military mindset.

Have you chosen to keep your military identity without any changes? If so, you’ve made reintegrating into civilian life harder. Many private sector organizations indoctrinate their employees with a purpose. If you join such a company, you’ll have a choice:

  • Conform to its purpose.
  • Underperform in the eyes of the people you work with.

You may think leaving your purpose open gives you a better chance of finding a job. Actually, doing so forces you to be a chameleon trying to fit the image of each potential employer. But your words won’t ring true. So you’ll get rejected for the job anyway. If by chance you do get hired, you won’t be happy because you’ll have to pretend to be someone you’re not.

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You’ll be better off finding your purpose first. Then identify organizations where you’ll fit in.

Purpose Leads to Professional Success

Are you a Marine, an Eagle Scout, or a Christian? If so, you’ve already set part of your purpose. Each carries a set of values and a way to behave. Now consider whether you need to add to your purpose or modify it.

If you don’t have a pre-existing purpose, you’ll have to start from scratch. Though it sounds morbid, how do you want people to eulogize you at your funeral? Write it down. Convert it into the roles you need to fill and the qualities you must develop.

Without a clear purpose, you have no basis for personal development. Your life will stagnate. Yet you need to grow to meet the challenges of reintegrating into civilian life. When a company defines who you are, professional success will elude you.

So define your purpose. Then cultivate the traits necessary to better harmonize with this self-image. For example, do you see yourself as a successful entrepreneur? Build a mindset of perseverance.

No matter how clear your purpose is in your mind, you must encapsulate it in one coherent sentence. Then read this sentence every morning. That way you indoctrinate yourself. Now you won’t waver in the face of temptation from an organization or job where you’ll be miserable.

Do you have a mindset that will lead to civilian professional success?

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