Tag Archives: job

Do You Improve Resilience with Every Task?

How Botched Undertakings Lead to Success

4 minutes to read

Guten tag. You may not have heard. But a couple of weeks ago the Navy deployed me to the Warrior Transition Program in Sembach, Germany. My last active duty time was two years ago. A funny thing happened on the way to reintegrating to military life…

Do You Improve Resilience with Every Task-

My Bungled Cross-Country Run

Reservists and individual augmentees who have been in AFRICOM and CENTCOM come to WTP on their way home. The Navy calls our program a Third Location Decompression point. Sailors can catch up on sleep, learn about the transition process, and make plans for the future.

Among other duties, I go with the participants on trips off base. One trip takes place on Saturday, for me the Sabbath. So I can’t ride the bus there. I also can't ride a bike or horse. In other words, I have to walk.

Kaiserslautern is 13 kilometers from the base. Now I often run 8 miles. So last Tuesday I decided to make a test run there. I printed out a map and hit the road. The weather was great – cool with the sun shining. After three miles I had run through the villages of Sembach and Melighen. The trouble began.

German roads aren't marked. So I had no idea that when I hit the outskirts of Melighen I was already off course. A short time later, the road turned into a wide dirt path. Crops and paddocks of horses lined both sides. Rain the night before meant concentrating on avoiding huge mud puddles.

At the six-mile mark, I came to a crossroads. Realizing I was off my mapped course, I decided to ask for directions. Then I realized my German was limited to what I learned watching Hogan’s Heroes.

I came up with a plan. I’d interrupt a hiker with bitte (please). Then I’d name my destination and point in a direction. If the person responded yah, that’s the direction I’d go. If he said nein, I’d point toward the other one and repeat, “Kaiserslautern?” Soon a lady came walking toward me.

Me: “Bitte, Kaiserslautern?” pointing the way she had come. A quizzical look came over her face.
Her: “Yah, Kaiserslautern,” pointing behind her. Bingo, I was on the right track.
Me: “Danke!” (Thank you!) Off I ran confidently.

Two more crossroads necessitated further exercises of my limited German. The third was with a man walking four big dogs that eyed me hungrily and barked so loud we could hardly hear each other. He appeared perplexed as he tried to figure out how to direct me. Finally, he pointed me down the road at what I realized was a town.

Since my Fitbit showed eight miles, I thought this had to be Kaiserslautern. But I wondered at his confusion. Once there, I realized it was too small to be Kaiserslautern. Half a mile down the road, back on a main highway, I came to a sign that read, “Kaiserslautern 11 km.” It pointed to a leaf-covered dirt path blocked by a heavy chain. Discretion got the better of valor. I headed back to the town I had just passed.

Soon, I realized where I was. I had made a huge circular run through the countryside and was back in Melighen. Essentially, I was back to where I’d started.

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It hit me then. I was living the transition nightmare.

4 Takeaways to Apply to Your Transition

My two and a quarter hour run showed me:

1. Get the most precise map available. I’m still not sure where I got off course. The map I downloaded didn't give me enough detail to know. When you travel through new territory you can make a wrong turn without realizing it. You have to get pretty far down the road before you realize your mistake. With lots of waypoints marked on your map, you’ll have a better chance of catching an error sooner.

2. Make sure you can communicate with the people you ask for help. None of the people I asked for directions misled me. After all, I found the road to Kaiserslautern. But I couldn't ask them how far it was or if a pedestrian could traverse the road. A couple of phrases like “How far to Kaiserslautern?” and “Is there a footpath to Kaiserslautern?” would have helped me. Make sure you learn some “civilian” or find a veteran who can translate for you.

3. Learn from not reaching your goal. Though I didn't reach Kaiserslautern, the run was useful. I realized that by car the trip was 13 km. But by foot, it was much longer, even without getting lost. And, I would have to travel on a road with no sidewalk. I won’t meet my goal of walking to Kaiserslautern on the Sabbath. But that’s okay.

4. Be open to new possibilities. My commanding officer got a big laugh at my adventure. She gave me a good-natured “I told you so.” But she respected that I put the program first and made the effort. In the end, since some people don't go on the trip, I’ll spend time with those who stay behind. I’m living one of my most cherished aphorisms.

No doubt they’ll be more amusing lessons coming from the next ten months in Germany. You can be sure I’ll pass them on for your benefit. I’ll also write a few posts about the places I visit. In the meantime, if you're struggling with any of the issues above, or a different one, get in touch. I may not know my way around Germany. But I can help you navigate the transition from military to civilian life.

Where are you stuck or think you’ll get stuck in your transition?
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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 Make Sure You’ll Love Your Job

7 Connections Between Your Happiness & Company Culture

3 minutes to read

I love the stories my father told me about his time in the navy during the 1950s. One of my favorites is about when he and his shipmates walked into a bar and found some Marines there. They exchanged taunts. The Marines called them swabbies. They called the Marines jarheads. A fight broke out. But in the midst of the brawl some soldiers came into the bar. All of a sudden the swabbies and jarheads joined forces against the army.

How to Make Sure You’ll Love Your Job

Reintegration is a Cultural Transition

This story sums up so much about military culture of the 50s. Post World War II, men were primed to fight like their fathers or brothers had. Marines thought the navy was filled with wimps who dropped them off on the shore of an island held by a hostile enemy to do the real fighting. Sailors who had engaged in ship-to-ship combat saw the risk of being sunk and drowned as far more dangerous than land-based combat. Each service branch’s culture defined them.

Like the military, private sector industries and companies have distinct cultures. After World War II, millions of service members returned to civilian life. They made organizational culture in the private sector more like the military than it ever had been before. Over the decades, the similarity has decreased. Besides defense contracting, you won’t find an industry that feels like the military.

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Part of deciding where to focus your job-hunt involves understanding the kind of culture where you’ll fit in. Then you’ll need to find an industry and companies that, as well as possible, match your vision.

Culture Determines If You’ll Love Your Job

Aside from general comfort, culture affects:

  • The length of your workday and week. In general, and especially working up to deployment, you worked until the job got done. But your pay stayed the same regardless. Civilian life has formed different expectations about task completion and compensation.
  • After hours time you’ll have to spend handling work matters and socializing with co-workers. Hours can be long in the private sector. With smart phones, everyone has a “crack-berry.” Going out after work with colleagues and your boss may be the only way to advance your career.
  • Your work environment, employee interaction, and competition among colleagues. Remember mandatory fun days? Some companies make fun an integral part of their culture. At such a place you may wonder why they don’t get to work so they can finish and go home.
  • Interaction with other employees, managers, and senior executives. Regulations and customs dictated dealings with your colleagues and leadership. Though they aren't in writing, most companies have strict protocols. Yet they may require a casual approach that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • The kind of workspace you’ll get and what kind of personal items you may have there. Custom and protocol dictate these issues in the military too. In the private sector, you may have to negotiate them. Surprisingly, getting the wrong office may hamper your advancement in the company.
  • Perks offered by the organization. Break rooms, gyms, and childcare facilities were standard in the military. Not so in the private sector.
  • The training and personal development you’ll get. For the most part, you knew what training benchmarks you had to meet to advance your military career. The matter is much more open in civilian life

You can see that company culture impacts every aspect of you work life. So you’ll need to examine it at three points in your job-hunt:

  1. When deciding which industry and organizations to target.
  2. Before you go to a meeting to discuss a job. (Never go on a job interview.)
  3. Prior to accepting an offer.

If you want to love your job, culture is central. You should practice the four ways of figuring it out:

  1. Research – On and Offline.
  2. Onsite observation.
  3. Talking with people who work in an industry or at a company.
  4. Asking questions during a meeting to discuss a job.

If nothing else, at some point in every meeting the person will ask, "Do you have any questions for me?" This is your invitation to learn as much as possible about a company’s culture.

What do you need to know so you can research company culture more effectively?

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How to Gain the Edge Presenting Your Skills to a Civilian

The Best Free Tools for Bridging the Language Barrier

3-½ minutes to read

When you talk to civilians about your military experiences do you feel like a foreigner? You say something and you get that head nod. It’s the one indicating comprehension while the eyes tell you the person doesn’t know what you’re talking about. That’s what you face when job-hunting after military service. The vast majority of civilians have never heard of a military occupation code (MOC). They have no idea what you did.

How to Gain the Edge Presenting Your Skills to a Civilian

You Have to Learn “Civilianese” for Presenting Your Skills

Some military jobs, like hospital corpsman and medic, have clear private sector equivalents. But most, like infantryman and boatswain’s mate, have nothing similar in the civilian world. And, just because you served in a medical capacity doesn’t mean you want to continue doing so.

Like civilians not knowing military terminology, most service members can’t convert a skill, such as breaking down and cleaning an M-16, into valuable private sector expertise. Yet your ability to get a high-paying job will in large part come from just that process.

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To help you, I looked at the most prominent military skills translators. Here’s my assessment of if and how they can help you.

Tools for Bridging the Language Barrier

Skills translators break down into four types from least to most useful:

  1. Job board
  2. Occupation matcher
  3. Occupation matcher with detailed information
  4. Skills translator

They’re all free and easy to use. But, as I discuss below, those in categories 1 and 2 have little practical value.

Category 1 - Job Board:

Military.com Military Skills Translator asks for your service branch and MOS, AFSC, or rating. It returns a list of related jobs.

TAOnline.com MOS Code to Civilian Occupation Translator and Stars and Stripes MOS Code to Civilian Occupations Translator are identical. I don’t know if they’re using the same software vendor or one has licensed the other’s. Suffice to say they request the same input, MOC, and give you the same output, a list of available jobs. These two have an interim step confirming your military job whereas Military.com goes straight to the jobs.

All are better than a regular job board where you would have to input a job description. But other than that, like all job boards, they’re a waste of time. Only a small percentage of people get a job using job boards. As well, they treat everyone in a MOC the same.

Category 2 – Occupation Matcher:

Department of Labor CareerOneStop Military to Civilian Occupation Translator asks for your MOC and returns a list of occupations. Because it gives such limited information don’t waste your time using it.

Category 3 – Occupation Matcher with Detailed Information:

O*Net Online Military Crosswalk Search asks for your service branch and MOC. It returns occupation matches. When you click on one of the occupations, you get:

  • Detailed Tasks – a list of the duties you would perform
  • Tools & Technology – that you’ll use
  • Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities - required for the job
  • Work activities
  • Work Context – the environment in which you’ll work
  • Job Zone - the preparation you need to qualify for the job including an SVP Code summarizing the level of preparation difficulty
  • Education – typical education level of people holding the job
  • Credentials – you need
  • Interests – the characteristics of a person the job will satisfy
  • Work Styles
  • Work Values
  • Related Occupations - note those with a “Bright Outlook”
  • Wage & Employment Trends
  • Sources of Additional Information

Such comprehensive data gives you a broad and deep picture of a particular job. Spend some time using this tool. The biggest negative comes from not treating you as an individual. You’ll have to research various jobs and decide which ones your unique skills and experiences best qualify you for.

Category 4 – Skills Translator:

Vets.gov Military Skills Translator is the only actual skills translator. You input your service branch, MOC, code status, and code category. It gives you a group of skills in civilian language. You can use this group, and ones you add to it, in the Resume Builder function on the website.

O*Net gives you a lot of information. But think about what happens when you’re in a meeting to discuss a job (a.k.a. interview). When asked why you’re qualified, do you say, “Because I plugged my MOC into O*Net and out popped this job”? Vets.gov gives you crucial data you need to create your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), which is the heart and soul of your self-marketing effort.

One caution, I input the same MOC into the skills translator three times and got three different groups of skills. You should do the same thing. Have it generate several sets of data. Then analyze each skill to determine whether it applies to you.

Next Step

O*Net and Vets.gov give you powerful free tools for constructing your UVP. Combine them with what you’re passionate to do. Now you have a path to the kind of job you’ll love. Get started now.

Where are you stuck figuring out your Unique Value Proposition?

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You Can Use This Simple Job-Hunting Secret

Proven Effective for 3600 Years

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayigash – Genesis 44:18-47:27

Finding your next job in the military was so simple. You got in touch with your branch manager or detailer. You negotiated based on available billets. Done. Private sector job hunting seems so complicated. You have to deal with resumes, job boards, applications, and interviews. But Parshas Vayigash shows the crucial job-hunting tactic is 3600 years old:

“…make them livestock officers over what is mine.’” (Bereshis/Genesis 47:6)

You Can Use This Simple Job-Hunting Secret

In this Sabbath’s parsha, Joseph’s brothers showed they had learned their lesson. Judah stepped forward to take Benjamin’s place as a slave. Overcome with emotion, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. He convinced them to bring Jacob and their households to Egypt where he would take care of them. At first, Jacob did not believe Joseph was still alive. But the brothers finally convinced him. They loaded up the wagons and moved to Egypt where they settled in Goshen.

The famine came. It was harsh. The Egyptians spent all their money buying food. Then they sold their animals, land, and finally themselves so that they would live. Only the priests were exempt.

The Power of Connections

Joseph’s brothers found work quickly. They got to Egypt and Pharaoh immediately wanted to meet them. He asked them their occupation. They told him they were shepherds. He directed Joseph to make them overseers of his flocks. Wouldn’t it be nice if your job-hunting worked that way?

Think about it. They didn’t agonize over their resumes. They didn’t worry about what questions Pharaoh would ask or how they would answer them. They received expert preparation from Joseph.

That’s the power of an inside connection. When someone who trusts you introduces you to someone who trusts him that person will trust you. The whole job-hunting process becomes a formality.

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Why People Don’t Use This Job-Hunting Secret

Many veterans reject using inside connections. They don’t like favoritism. They think it’s mercenary. But I suspect it actually stems from their not knowing how to create them. If you related to any of these, I have three responses for you:

  1. Choosing a known quantity is not favoritism. It makes sense to work with reliable, honest people. Another person may be dependable and trustworthy. But why take a chance?
  2. It’s only mercenary if you intend to use the person just to get a job then sever the connection. Instead, create connections as part of your long-term professional development. To be at the top of your field, you need to be exchanging ideas with the leaders in it. Your contacts need to do the same thing. Make relationships mutually beneficial.
  3. Most people in the military are impressed with expert marksmen. Even if you didn’t have that level of skill, you appreciated someone else’s achievement. Likewise, you should admire people adept at forming strategic connections. Think about it this way. Marksmanship and relationship development are both skills for dealing with people. The first for elimination. The second for cooperation. Like shooting, you can learn to develop relationships. The commanders you respect in the military are talented at connecting with people. It’s one of the qualities that makes them superior leaders. Rather than refusing to use connections to get a job, become an expert at it

Perhaps you think Joseph shouldn’t have helped his brothers. Or maybe it was okay because they were family. Whether for these reasons or because you don’t know how it’s time to change your attitude.

Be strategic when making connections. See to it that when establishing professional friendships you:

  • Can add value to the person’s career
  • The person can help you

Focus on the myriad of ways for each of you to benefit the other. Then you can become part of the 3600-year-old history of outstanding job-hunters.

Question – What keeps you from making inside connections?

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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. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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