Tag Archives: jobs

Do You Have a Crusader for Your Transition?

How to Crush Your Own Resistance

2 minutes to read

Cold weather has come to Germany. Temperatures often drop to the low 30s. The application of tissue after tissue to my runny nose has made it look like Rudolph’s. So while on a trip to Heidelberg last week with my redeployers, I decided to get some soft cotton handkerchiefs…

Do You Have a Crusader for Your Transition_

A Small Quest with Big Implications

Heidelberg has at least two claims to fame. One of the oldest universities in the world calls it home. And it has the Philosophenweg, the Philosophers’ Way. For four centuries, professors and students have climbed this path, contemplating life’s great questions. Spectacular views of the Nektar River punctuate the first twenty-five minutes walking up steep steps.

Another two hours of walking consumed all my tissues. But I figured it would be easy to find handkerchiefs. One of the redeployers was tagging along with me. He wanted Cuban cigars. So we visited a tobacconist first. His need for high-end smokes filled, we set out to find handkerchiefs.

Europe is more old-world than America. So we assumed every men’s store would have them. To be sure, we picked one with an upscale name. The clerk didn't know what we were talking about. My friend had one so he showed her what we wanted. She shrugged her shoulders.

The clerk in the next shop responded the same way. Then we went into a shop with a Canadian clerk. He spoke English. Nonetheless, he laughed when we told him what we wanted. It turns out European men no longer carry handkerchiefs. He suggested we try TK Maxx, the European version of TJ Maxx. More shrugs of incomprehension.

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I was ready to give up and order them online. But my companion urged me on. To him, we had embarked on a quest. We couldn't stop until we’d met our goal.

You Cannot Transition Alone

We kept walking. Several blocks farther on we saw a department store. Sure enough, on the third floor, we found them, high quality and priced right. As I sit here writing, I wish I had remembered to put one in my pocket before leaving my room.

It’s easy to give up too early. You convince yourself that something isn't actually that important. In a perfect world, your self-discipline never falters. In reality, you’re human.

You can have clarity about your purpose and mission. Goals can align with your image for your life. And still, when the going gets tough, you can flounder.

In the hunt for handkerchiefs, a buddy will suffice. For your transition to civilian life, you need a crusader. The person needs to know you and your mission and goals. He should appreciate the struggle. Even better, he has been through it himself. When inner resolve wanes, this person can steel you to keep going.

Choose this person with care. He can be the impetus to stick to your goal for the few more steps necessary to reach success. She may be your spouse or a colleague who’s already reintegrated to civilian life. He may be a sibling or a coach. What counts is his commitment to see you through hard times.

Create your support element now.

Who can be the person who keeps you going when you falter?

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How to Create Relationships When You Don’t Know How

4 Steps to Creating Solid Professional Connections

2-½ minutes to read

Creating the relationships you need to get the job you want can be difficult. When the military assigns you to a unit everyone understands they need to build a team. So relationships develop as part of the regular workflow. But for the most part, connections have little to do with getting your next billet. In civilian life, most of your success will rest on how depth and strength of your network…

How to Create Relationships When You Don't Know How

The Military Taught You Relationship Skills

Even though you don’t need connections to get a billet, you learned relationship-building skills. They went by a different name. Leadership and team building require understanding how to motivate colleagues to meet the mission.

Civilians think the military orders people around. We know that’s not reality. Most often, we seek to influence each other. And influence comes from trust. Trust comes from mutual understanding and confidence in a person’s motives. In other words, people with whom we have strong relationships influence us.

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Once you figure out how you built mutual trust with a person, you’ll know how to create other relationships.

Reverse Engineer Your Relationships

Have you ever thought about how you created a friendship? At some point, you met someone and hit it off. Over time you came to trust the person. Months or years later you look back and realize you’ve been friends for a long time. You reminisce about the crazy things you did. It seems to have just happened.

But that can't be. If you hadn’t interacted the friendship would never have grown. You talked about things. And you did things that created mutual trust. Probe your memory. What were the landmark events that solidified the relationship? Reverse engineer the process you went through:

1. Examples. Choose a solid relationship and a bumpy one. It’s best to use professional ones. They’re what you want to replicate. But if necessary, social friends or family members will work. Compare and contrast the two as you complete the next three steps.

2. Assess. Think about why the good relationship developed trust and the other one didn’t. Consider communication style, outlook, values, and mutual interests. Do you connect on several of these in the solid relationship and none in the other one?

3.Steps. Identify the critical points at which trust developed in the solid relationship. Did the other one lack similar waypoints? Steps 2 and 3 should give you a clear picture of how you built the good relationship. They should also reveal why the other one is bumpy.

4. Replicate. Can you use what you learned about the solid relationship to improve the bumpy one? Try using it as a test case. Did it improve? Now identify someone you want to make a part of your network. Apply what you’ve learned and assess how well it worked. Since everyone is different, make adjustments as you go.

This process may seem manipulative. But no one is forcing the other person to engage with you. You’re offering them the opportunity to get to know you.

You now understand how to build relationships. But that doesn't mean everyone will take your offer. People have their own agendas. If someone turns you down, move on. Set aside time each day for relationship development. Soon you’ll have the kind of network that will make for a smooth transition to civilian life.

Do you find it difficult to connect with people?

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How to Get Trapped Doing Work You Hate

Do You Think You Deserve a Great Job?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayeitzei – Genesis 28:10-32:3

You never have to negotiate your military salary. For that matter, all the terms of employment are set. In the private sector, almost everything is open for discussion. Many veterans get fooled into thinking if they get a great compensation package, civilian life will be outstanding. Others take the first job offered them out of desperation. Then reality hits…

 How to Get Trapped by Work You Hate

Employers Will Entice You

The “if they pay me enough I can put up with anything” attitude is seductive. Even the wisest people have taken the first job offered them. In Parshas Vayeitzei, Jacob falls into this trap:

“And he [Laban] said, specify your wage to me and I will give it.” (Beresheis/Genesis 30:28)

After working seven years so he could marry Rachel, Jacob found Laban had tricked him. The morning after his wedding he woke up with Leah. Still hopelessly in love with Rachel, he agreed to work another seven years to earn her. You would think that would have been all the proof he needed to leave his father-in-law’s employ.

But when Laban told Jacob to name his price, he took the bait. The next six years required constant vigilance so he didn't get cheated. Finally, he couldn’t take any more. He gathered up his wives and children and fled.

Continuing to work for Laban may have seemed like the smart or easy play. Why take the risk of having to find another employer or going out on his own? Maybe his wives pressured him. After all, what could be more secure than having their husband work for daddy?

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But after 20 years, Jacob had had it. And when Laban confronted him, he exploded with indignation.

Rationalizing Taking a Crummy Job

Let’s be honest, money can buy happiness. Or at least you can get enough stuff so you overlook being miserable. But money can't buy a sense of purpose, mission, or fulfillment. If your job pays well but offers nothing else, you’re in a test of wills with your employer. How much will you put up with before you can’t stand another minute and quit?

Taking the first post-military job offered may seem like the right move. But half of veterans quit their job during the first year. They feel no sense of mission, especially compared to the military. Is it any wonder they hate what they’re doing?

Do you still have lots of time before you leave active duty? Are you struggling after leaving your first civilian job? Or are you somewhere between? The stage of your transition doesn't matter.


  1. How important is finding meaningful employment?
  2. What kind of work fits with your revised purpose and mission as you enter the private sector?
  3. How do your answers to the first two questions impact your thinking about compensation?

If decide to maximize your income at the expense of meaning:

  1. How much will you need to earn to put up with the drudgery and maltreatment?

Jacob thought he had good reasons for working for Laban. It’s true he got to marry the woman he adored. But he never had a good relationship with Leah. Numerous stories attest to the contentiousness of his later life. Jacob had to learn how to outwit Laban instead of engaging in more satisfying pursuits.

You don't need to work for an unscrupulous employer doing mind-numbing work. Take the time to think through your responses to these four questions. Have the patience to figure out your Unique Value Proposition that will lead you to a job you love.

Are you doing work you hate for a supervisor who’s a jerk?

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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!

Do You Know How to Ace a Meeting for a Job?

How to Get Hiring Managers on Your Side

2-½ minutes to read

Last week I took my redeployers (the people who come to WTP) to Koblenz. Before the Nazis came to power, 800 Jews lived there. Only twenty-two survived the war. I felt some trepidation as I walked the streets of the city. While window-shopping, I found a store with solid wood hangars at less than a Euro each. I went inside…

Do You Know How to Ace a Meeting for a Job_

Connecting Can Entail a Bit of Risk

The shopkeeper hovered over me as I looked around his shop. He spoke to me in German when I picked up a VW Beetle keychain. No sprechen sie Deutsch, I replied. When I settled in front of the hangars, he struggled to explain the price to me.

At the register, I bent forward to reach my wallet. That’s when he saw my yarmulke. Juden? he asked. I froze for a moment, unsure what to do. But what choice did I have? Ya, Juden, I said. A huge smile came over his face. Pointing to himself he declared, “Me Juden!” A wave of relief flooded over me.

For the next twenty-five minutes, we conversed. My new friend was from Italy. He spoke German, Italian, and some of French. I spoke English, ten words of German, a bit of French, and some Spanish. At times we pantomimed. Despite the language gap, Enrico and I understood each other.

Having connected, we weer glad to help each other. We covered substantive and trivial issues. He told me the best places to see the Rhein and the Moselle rivers. He let me know the safe places to travel in France. I helped him learn a little Hebrew. He seemed to draw confirmation of his identity from this Navy rabbi showing up in his store.

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All this grew out of our risking making a connection.

4 Four Ways to Create Rapport

You have the same primary task at a meeting for a job. Connect with the hiring manager. If you cannot do so, nothing else that happens will matter much. It can seem daunting to relate to someone so quickly. A few simple techniques will make it easier:

1. Starting Points. Geography, previous employment, alma maters, cultural touch points, life stages, and interests. All create connections. Are you from the same state or town? Were you both in the military? Did you go to the same school or were you crosstown rivals? Do you share the same religious denomination? Are your children similar in age?

2. Inside Contact. Ask your inside contact for some basic information about the hiring manager. After greeting each other and sitting down, bring up something that interests you in his background. The phrase, “I understand that…” is useful when asking for details. Say he rides a motorcycle. Try, “I understand you ride a motorcycle. What kind of bike do you have?”

3. LinkedIn and Online Biography. Check his profile on LinkedIn and the organization’s website. Look for information on schools, causes, and interest. Where do they intersect with yours?

4. Look for Connection Points in His Office. If you can't find any information in advance, give a quick glance around his office. What do you see that sparks your interest? Are there photographs of a fishing trip? Try this phrase. “Oh, I see you're into fishing. Where were these pictures taken?”

People like to talk about their passions. Make a connection by showing genuine interest. Once you’ve created some rapport, you stand a much better chance of having a successful meeting.


Do you have trouble breaking the ice at a meeting?

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How to Communicate with Private Sector Employers

Can You Speak So Civilians Will Listen?

2 minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Chayei Sarah – Genesis 24:29

Many civilians consider the way we speak to people to be too formal and stiff. What military people think of as respectful can make non-military people uncomfortable. For veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and even Vietnam this divide was small. How do we handle its widening?

How to Communicate with Private Sector Employers

Everyone Used to Speak Formally

The conversational divide didn’t start 40 years ago. For millennia, people have broken the customary rules. Parshas Chayei Sarah records an early example:

“Laban ran to the man, outside to the spring.” (Beresheis/Genesis 24:19)

Abraham sent his servant, Eliezer, to Haran to find a wife for Isaac. When he arrived there, Eliezer encountered Rebecca. Soon he realized G-d had chosen her to marry Isaac. So he gave her valuable gifts of jewelry. Then Rebecca took him to her father’s home to stay overnight. When her brother Laban saw the expensive adornments, he ran to greet Eliezer.

Laban appeared to show hospitality and honor to a guest. But by craving to get close to the wealthy stranger, he disrespected his father. As the leader of his home, Bethuel had the privilege of greeting Eliezer. His son took that away.

You can see military rules come from these ancient roots. Among them, a junior defers to a senior when speaking. This tradition of respect and deference continues. People outside the military used to follow such rules out of politeness. The two realms differed because service members were more direct and used profanity.

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Since the 1970s, fewer people defer to age, education, or other norms when addressing another person. Conversely, civilians swear more than ever before. But these patterns vary by industry and company. How can you figure out what to do?

Know a Company’s Level of Formality

To find out an organization’s manner of speaking, do a little intel gathering. Focus on:

  1. How did the receptionist address you? Did she use your first name or Mr./Ms. and your last name? How was the person you’ll be meeting referred to? Gather clues about the organization’s level of formality by listening to the receptionist.
  2. How do others at the company speak? Don't rely solely on how the receptionist speaks. When you conduct informationals, collect information on what people say and HOW they say it.
  3. Review the organization’s website. How formal is the language? On the pages telling about people who work there, are they referred to by their first name?
  4. Ask your inside contact. If you got the meeting to discuss a job through an insider, talk to the person about how formal the company is.

None of these steps will take you very long. But they’ll provide you with the intelligence you need to know what to do. You may not have to alter your manner of speech. Or you may have to be on your guard to talk in a less formal way.

In general, start by speaking a little more formally than you assess the organization to be. That way, if you’ve assessed the level too informally you can tighten up. Otherwise, plan to relax into a less formal manner as the meeting progresses.

Are you comfortable talking to civilian employers?

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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!

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