Do You Know Why Job-Hunting Is Like Basketball?

3 minutes to read

Basketball.  What’s the first thing you do when you want to play?  Do you put your shoes on?  Get a ball?  I’ll admit basketball isn't my favorite sport. One on the rare occasions I tried to join a game, I played left out. But I imagine it’s pretty boring shooting at the air. Confused? I’ll explain.

How to Ensure Your Job-Hunt Fails Before It Begins

Make Sure You Know the Point of the Game

Before anything else, you need a basket to shoot at.

You can perform passing drills. And you may practice dribbling using your fingertips. My dad said it gives better ball control. Talk about dull. I’d train for about five minutes and then sneak away to do something else.

Training is pointless unless it’s preparation to play the game. And the game is pointless without a goal.

In any serious play, a random basket won’t do. Regulations require the hoop to have an 18-inch diameter and its top to be 10 feet above the floor. The backboard must measure 72 inches wide by 42 inches tall. It should have an inner rectangle that is 24 inches wide by 18 inches high.

Any deviation from these standards disqualifies the game. You may have fun. But will anyone care about a slam-dunk record using a basket only eight feet above the ground? Bragging about such an accomplishment will damage your reputation not enhance it.

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Professional players won’t play basketball with a non-regulation basket. They won’t know if they’ve won. Your job-hunt works the same way.

Why Getting a Job Isn’t a Goal

When a service member says he’s getting out of the military I always ask about his plans. In most cases, he replies he has to get his resume together and find a job. To the question, “What do you want to do,” he answers something like, “well I was a 25 Bravo (Navy – IT, Marine Corps - 0651, Air Force - 3 Delta 1) so I guess I’ll get an IT job.”

Can you imagine Kobe Bryant saying he’s a basketball player because “I’ve got a metal ring and some wood.” These supplies don't make a basketball goal. Possessing them won't make someone a basketball player. Your military specialty (MOS, rating/NEC, AFSC, designator, NOBC) doesn’t constitute a job goal.

Did you like working in your military specialty? Yes? Then you have a good field in which to set your job-hunt goal.

If you didn't like you military specialty, you’re setting yourself up for failure by getting a similar civilian job. It may seem faster to look for such a job. But if you didn't like the field, there’s a good chance you won’t do well. Six to 12 months after getting a job you’ll be looking for another one.

To set a worthwhile job-hunting goal, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Choose. Do I like my military specialty? If not, choose another field.
  2. Research. What problems do private sector companies in the field need solving?
  3. Assess. How do I feel about working hard to solve these problems?
  4. Match. Do my skills align with those necessary to deal with the problems I uncovered?

Each question will help you refine your target job. Notice that skills are the last issue, not the first. The military taught you discipline, leadership, and problem-solving. They are more valuable than hard skills, such as IT. Technical knowledge goes out of date. Also, often it doesn’t translate well to civilian work.

Instead, figure out the basic skills that make up your technical knowledge.  An 11 Bravo (Infantryman) wouldn’t seem to have good civilian job prospects. But he has a high level of mechanical expertise. Couple that with discipline, leadership, and problem-solving. How about becoming a Mercedes Benz mechanic? The average salary for this job in Cincinnati is $62,338, with starting pay of $51,338. That’s about what an NCO makes in the military. In San Jose, California salaries are 20% to 25% higher. And you can make close to six-figures after a couple of years. Not bad if you like working on cars.

Hunting for any job is like shooting a basketball without knowing which goal is which. How do you know if you’ve scored? Did you throw it in your opponent’s basket? You may have made the shot. But if the other team got the points who cares?

Choose. Research. Assess. Match. Now you have a goal worth pursuing. When you reach it, you’ll have your first big win in civilian life.

Have you CRAMmed your job-hunting goal?

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© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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