Category Archives: Transitions

How to Avoid a Second Job-Hunt in a Year

Are You Prioritizing Job Satisfaction?

2-½ minutes to read

Recently I saw a post in a LinkedIn veterans group. The person asked what he should do now that he’d hit every job board. He didn’t mention the kind of job he wanted. And his scattergun approach shows he didn’t prepare much for entering civilian life. A second job-hunt looms on his horizon even though he doesn’t have his first post-military job.

How to Avoid a Second Job-Hunt in a Year

Did the Military Challenge You?

Two-thirds of veterans find the transition to civilian life difficult. Finding a job ranks at the top of the list of challenges. Forty percent of veterans experience unemployment for at least six months. Yet, almost half of enlisted people leave their first job within 12 months. Thirty-one percent do so within six months. So, in the first couple of years post-military, many veterans work about as much as they look for work.

The military challenged us to keep building our skills, knowledge, and leadership ability. It gave us meaningful work to do. And it provided a clear path for advancement and professional development.

No surprise that veterans leave jobs that lack these qualities. Other reasons for high-first year turnover include skills mismatch and inadequate compensation.

Taking all of this into account, how do you avoid a second job-hunt in a year?

Assess and Plan

Anxiety over employment runs high as the date for leaving the military gets closer. You’ll feel pressured to something, toward getting a job. First, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are my goals for transitioning? "Find a job" is too general. You’ll have much greater success and a shorter job-hunt by getting specific about the job you want.
  2. Have I done a thorough skills assessment? Most veterans assume they have to find civilian work like what they did in the military. But what do infantrymen and artillerymen do in the private sector? Use this tool to dig beyond your obvious skills. It translates them to civilian language too.
  3. What would I like to do? Have you examined what you liked about military duty? You may have hated the restrictive environment. But I bet you found some tasks enjoyable. Where else have you found meaning in work? You may feel you can’t afford to be picky. But your cash flow won’t improve by changing jobs every six to twelve months.
  4. How much do I know about what employers need? Our fellow citizens respect us because we fill a big need: keeping them safe. Employers hire veterans because they think we’ll solve problems for them. Identify where you can help employers in your field deal with their challenges.
  5. What kind of culture do I want to work in? Each service branch has a different culture. If you worked in a joint environment you saw the clash. The private sector is the same. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches, and a second job-hunt, by checking for a cultural fit before taking a job.
  6. Who do I know who can help me get the inside track for a job? Employers post on job boards because they’re having trouble filling the position. You’ll find the best jobs through someone already working at the organization. Get in touch with people you know and give them specifics about the job you want.

Notice that question 6 ties back to question 1. If you’ve gone through the questions at least once, your ready to attack you job-hunt in earnest. And, you’ve increased the odds you’ll like and stay with the job you find.

Resist the impulse to head straight for the job boards. Not only will you save time looking for your first job. You’ll avoid a second job-hunt.

Which question is hardest to answer?

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How to Have the Security of a High-Paying Job

Have You Absorbed the Most Important Lesson of Military Life?

1-½ minutes to read

Training makes our military second to none. Sometimes equipment doesn’t always measure up. Other times intelligence gaps make completing a mission tough. But rugged conditioning and practice prepare us to overcome all obstacles and prevail. It’s a shame that we don’t take the same approach when getting ready for civilian life.

How to Have the Security of a High-Paying Job

Training Trumps Information

Imagine you’ve just arrived at Fort Benning, MCRD, Great Lakes, or JBSA-Lackland. After checking in, the drill instructors tell you to jump on the Internet. It’s time to learn how to become a Soldier, Marine, Sailor, or Airman. You’d think they were nuts, right?

Adapting to military life took more than information. There’s a world of difference between reading a manual on firing the M4 Carbine and actually training in its use. Without enough live fire exercises, you’d expect failure in combat.

Civilian life is no different.

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You don’t face life or death when reintegrating to the private sector. But getting the security of a high-paying job takes more than information.

Security Comes from Superior Conditioning

Basic training lasted seven to twelve weeks. Follow on schools lasted from a few weeks to a year. You trained full time. You still weren’t ready for duty. When you got to your unit you received OTJ (on the job) training.

Now learning how to get a high-paying job may not be as complex as becoming a medic or submarine nuke. But one week of transition instruction, while keeping up with regular duties, won’t cut it. You need at least two months of dedicated training to learn the ropes.

Start by assessing where you need to improve. Have you adjusted from a military to a civilian mindset? Do you know how to:

  1. Set a mission and goals?
  2. Build a unique value proposition?
  3. Target employers and create relationships?
  4. Market yourself?
  5. Meet and negotiate?

Until you have these capabilities, a successful job-hunt will prove elusive. Like in basic training, drill to gain proficiency. You’ll make mistakes. So make sure you have a mentor with military and civilian life success. That way he can help you improve. Then you can achieve mastery through on the job… hunt training.

My free guide will help you get started. The military taught you how to prepare for a new challenge. Follow its guidance. Train for the challenges of reintegration and finding a high-paying job.

Which step is giving you the hardest time?

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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

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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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 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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