Tag Archives: right decision

Shrewd Advice About People Who Thwart Your Success

How to Deal With Nasty Coworkers

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Ki Sisa – Exodus 30:11-34:35

Without naming names, I'd prefer not to have worked with some of the chaplains in the navy. They caused me no end of career difficulties. I’ve joked that the UCMJ needs a new article called Conduct Unbecoming a Chaplain. But Parshas Ki Sisa gives shrewd advice for handling the situation:

“And Moses stood at the gate of the camp, and he said, whoever is for G-d come to me. And all the sons of Levi gathered to him.” (Shemos/Exodus 32:26)

Shrewd Advice About People Who Thwart Your Success

This Sabbath’s parsha gives the mitzvah of the half-shekel. Then it deals with the last few items for the Altar. Next, it discusses observing the Sabbath. The parsha ends with the story of the Golden Calf.

Two Mutineers’ Stories

The Torah emphasizes every single Levite came to Moses’s aid. Even Korach answered the call. This despite his deep envy of Moses and Aaron. His jealousy was so consuming it led him to mutiny against these leaders chosen by G-d.

Yet even though Korach hated him, Moses welcomed him into the fight for the Almighty’s honor. And he fulfilled his duty to the letter. Those responsible for the Golden Calf received their deserved punishment. Only later did Korach and his followers mutiny.

The same tactic didn’t work for Captain Bligh of the ill-fated HMAV Bounty. He asked his acting lieutenant, Fletcher Christian, to help him discipline a restless crew. Christian displayed little enthusiasm. He concluded Bligh’s honor, not that of King, country, or G-d was at stake. So Christian hastened the mutiny.

Both Korach and Christian felt persecuted by the man in command. Unable to blame G-d, Korach condemned Moses and Aaron for taking the position he coveted. He couldn’t content himself with being among the elite Levites. He had to be number 1.

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Despite his portrayal in popular culture, little evidence exists that Bligh mistreated his sailors. The disciplinary measures he used were common in their day. And his authority came from the King of England. Regardless of Bligh making him second in command, Christian felt abused. Unwilling to hold himself responsible, he blamed his unhappiness on Bligh.

Shrewd Advice Based on Two Great Leaders

Moses and Bligh displayed exemplary leadership. Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt to the border of the Promised Land. Bligh navigated a tiny boat through an open sea voyage of more than 4,000 miles. At first, both overlooked the errant tendencies of their restive subordinates.

In the end, as the mutiny leaders sowed, so they reaped. Unable to persuade the mutineers to abandon their cause, Moses had to ask G-d to destroy them. The ground opened up and they perished. Korach, who punished those responsible for the Golden Calf, received the same.

Christian seized the Bounty and set Bligh and most of those loyal to him adrift. Yet later, as the leader of the mutineers on Pitcairn Island, those unhappy with their lives murdered him.

During your job-hunt and on the job you’ll encounter people who will appear to be allies but later turn out to be mutineers. Such people are the exception, not the rule. Korachs and Fletcher Christians are rare. Best to follow Moses’s and Bligh’s example. Show them your good faith. Try to convince them to rejoin your cause.

But if such efforts fail, take heart in the lesson of Korach, Christian, and other mutineers in history. They get their rightful reward. Establish new relationships. And move on with your career.

Question – Is it appropriate to work with a bad or evil person on a worthwhile project?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below


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!

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?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below ↓

How to Be Proactive Hunting for a Job

3 minutes to read

With all the time and effort you spent writing your resume how come your phone doesn’t ring off the hook? Maybe you paid a professional resume writer to review or edit it. You posted it dozens, even hundreds, of times on Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com, and every company website you could find. Still no luck. After months of searching, you’re ready to give up. You’re committing job search sin #6: Thinking all you have to do is post your resume on job boards.

How to Be Proactive Hunting for a Job 

How the Internet Makes Getting a Job Harder

It seems the Internet has made searching for employment easier. You can get information on thousands of jobs while sitting in front of your computer. Job boards give you the ability to search all kinds of parameters so you can find exactly what you want. Then you can submit your paperwork online. And there you have it. The requests to have you interview should roll in.

While this sounds logical, it ignores one basic issue. Hunting for a job used to be a local matter. This limited the applicant pool to people who lived reasonably close to the company. The Internet turned almost every employee search into a national one. Before your competition was the town or city. Now it’s the entire United States.

Since 2008 between 118 and 250 people have applied for each job. The cost to apply for a job seems low. Just fill out an application and submit it with your resume. With so many applicants, employers have to efficiently sift out the best. They turned to automated Applicant Tracking System, which screen resumes to eliminate up to 50% before a human will look at them. As many as 20% of those not ruled out will get an interview. But often only three to six people get called. Of these, at least one or two will usually be internal referrals.

So a lot more people are applying. You and the employer are passive participants in the beginning of such a job hunt. Unless you can consistently convey your unique qualities to a machine you’ll be overlooked. Those on the inside have a bigger advantage than ever before because they circumvent the automated screening.

Can you say deck stacked against you? Only 4% to 10% of people who use the post and pray method exclusively get a job that way. One expert says it’s closer to 0.4%.

Adopt Proactive Hunting

Can we agree you should stop spamming job boards with your resume? Then you’ll have plenty of time to do what does work:

  1. Focus on LinkedIn. In 2014, 94% of recruiters were active on LinkedIn but only 36% of job seekers were. On Facebook, 65% of recruiters are active but 83% of job seekers are there. LinkedIn is designed to showcase your professional credentials. Which gives you the better odds?
  2. Optimize your profile. Don’t think of LinkedIn as on online resume. Listing the billets you had is useless. Start with the summary. What value can you deliver to an employer? What does your target job look like? When describing your military service emphasize your accomplishments. How did you help the command meet its mission? What improvements did you make to personnel and processes? Quantify them.  Use Matthew Fritz's guide, Leveraging Your LinkedIn Profile for Success.
  3. Provide evidence. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, video’s worth a million. Do you have a two-minute clip of you doing the kind of work you’d do for an employer? Post it. Have you written an article that got published? Post it. Likewise with whatever you have that demonstrates your expertise. If you don’t have anything, create it.
  4. Endorsements. Post excerpts from your performance evaluations (FITREPs, evals, etc.). Get testimonials from the highest-ranking people you can. Civilians equate generals and admirals to CEOs. Include impressive job titles like Wing Commander or Commanding Officer. Have your endorsers focus on achievements related to specific skills.
  5. Make strategic connections. Find the thought leaders for the business or industry you want to work in. Connect with them. Build relationships. Read my six posts on cultivating relationships starting with How to Go from Contact to Relationship.

Besides decreasing the time it takes you to get a job, following these steps will improve your career progression.

Posting resumes to job boards fits the rigidity of the military mindset. But it doesn’t work in the open-ended, ad hoc, civilian world. The longer you wait to alter your plan of attack, the more your enthusiasm will wane.

Relationships will deliver the job you want. Next week I’ll talk about how.

What prevents you from being proactive in your job search? Please comment below.

How to Control the Image You Project to Employers

3 minutes to read

During a meeting to discuss a job, have you gotten that eerie feeling? The person seems to know A LOT about you. But how? You’ve never mentioned your ex, politics, or that crazy night vacationing in Cancun. Or maybe you can’t get a meeting to save your life. Why are you persona non grata? You’re committing job search sin #5: Considering what you post on social media to be off limits from employers.

How to Control the Image You Project to Employers

You Have No Privacy Online

Sixty percent of organizations check out a candidate’s social media presence. (Another source says 84%.) If you’re looking for an information technology job, the number leaps to 76%. This includes the usual suspects of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. But they may also check out Instagram, Pinterest, and other less obvious places. Whatever turns up on a Google search, prospective employers will see. Almost half of hiring managers have rejected a candidate because of something they found out online.

Among the biggest red flags are:

  • Inappropriate pictures. Think about your last deployment. Your significant other may have gotten mad. A hiring manager may reject you out of hand.
  • Drinking or drug usage. Civilian employers assume veterans are reliable and mature. Why do you want to present an image that disproves this belief?
  • Badmouthing a former employer. Your time in the military may have been less than ideal. Fair enough. Take the good parts and move forward. Bellyaching online shows a potential employer what you’ll do if things don’t work out. Often they won’t take the risk on you.
  • Discriminatory comments. Just like in the military, biased remarks don’t fly with civilians. Everyone is entitled to respectful treatment.
  • Politics. A dose of modesty goes a long way here. Most companies have a politically diverse workforce. The boss may agree with your perspective. But that doesn’t mean he wants such a divisive subject brought into the workplace. Confine your opinions to close friends. By the way, Facebook friends don’t fit this definition.
  • Bad communication skills. Spelling, syntax, and grammar count, online and when speaking. Always communicate your thoughts well. Scrub your social media as thoroughly as your resume.

You won’t know who will review your online presence. Nor will you know when. But you can be sure a majority of employers will scrutinize your social media profiles to find out who you are.

Control the Image You Project

Since you’ll be checked out online, you need to present yourself properly:

  1. Search your name. What comes up when you Google your name with and without your middle initial? I got 30 times as many hits searching “Kevin S. Bemel” as “Kevin Bemel”. And much older information came up in the first search. You may have a common name. Is something someone else did making you look bad?
  2. Review all your social media profiles. You may think your profiles are private. That doesn’t mean they are. Employers won’t hack your accounts. And you may not have to give them your passwords. Nonetheless, verify that non-friends are restricted from viewing your Facebook and Twitter profiles. But keep in mind, policies for these platforms change all the time. Better to treat them as you would any public site.
  3. Identify negative information. Whether it’s about you or someone with the same name, you need to determine which hits are negative. Make sure you look beyond the first page or two of results. Most people don’t but that doesn’t mean an enterprising HR person won’t.
  4. Get rid of what you can, explain the rest. Remove any posts that fit one of the red flag descriptions. If you don’t control the site, contact the webmaster or owner of the site. Make the case for their removing the material. Have verifiable explanations for any derogatory items you cannot delete. It will take time. We all have to pay the piper.

Keep in mind, you’ve only gotten rid of the negative material. I’ll talk about optimizing your online presence to support finding a job in my next post.

You’re responsible for your online image and how it impacts your job search. The information, pictures, and videos you post reveal your character and ability. Even if a friend has published something on your profile, you choose whether it stays or goes. Take control of the image you project to employers. Start now.

What experience have you had with employers checking your social media profiles? Please comment below.

Use These 3 Simple Ways to Connect with People

3 minutes to read

Over the last three weeks, I’ve covered whom you should connect with and the basic building blocks of relationships. Now it’s time to deal with where and how to make the initial connection. You may be wondering why I saved the first step for last. Ah ha, read on…

Use These 3 Simple Ways to Connect with People

The Facebook Syndrome

At the risk of being sent to social media prison, most of the people you’re connected to on social media are not friends. In fact, until the advent of Facebook people understood a friend was someone with whom you had an actual relationship. LinkedIn is honest about it. It calls them connections.

Think about all the people you know. With how many do you have a real bond? I couldn’t find any statistics, but I bet it’s not more than 10% to 20%. Herein lies the challenge. You’re not going to create relationships with most of the people you meet. What’s more, no matter how targeted you are, you cannot control the other person’s response. You may be willing to put a lot of effort into forming a bond. But if the other person isn’t interested or sees no value your commitment probably won’t change his mind.

Finding people with whom to build solid, mutually beneficial relationships is an iterative process. You’ll have to make some connections. Then you’ll have to test them out a little bit. For many reasons most won’t be open to your overture. You’ll have to endure the rejection. Move on and keep searching.

Building relationships is challenging. Prospecting to find the right people is harder.

3 Simple Ways to Connect

Now do you see why I waited until now to address this step? Like most important undertakings that lead to success, finding the right connections will be frustrating. You know the benefit of having strong relationships. You know how to create them. With those two foundations, you can motivate yourself to do the hard work.

Here are three ways to connect with people. Try out one of them and see if it works for you. If not, move on to the next one. Think in terms of how comfortable you are with the process. Don’t worry about results at first. If you like the manner of connecting you’re more likely to continue using it until you find the right people with whom to build relationships.

  1. Social Media. No surprise, right? Here’s the key. Focus on one social media platform. I maintain a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, but Twitter is my main focus. It’s a writer’s medium. I love the challenge of being meaningful and concise. Almost everyone I want to connect with professionally is there so I just have to catch someone’s eye. Play around with different platforms. Find one that’s fun. Then find the people you want to connect with on it. Send them a message. Contact them regularly. If they respond, fantastic! Now, build an actual relationship. If not, press on.
  2. Community Service. Before I joined the navy I was involved in philanthropy. I volunteered to fundraise, provide programming, and serve as an officer of groups whose missions I believed in. As a result, I met hundreds of people and created many solid relationships. Find an organization you want to support. Make sure it’s large enough that you’ll meet a lot of people or has as its mission delivering value to the kind of people you want to meet. I joined the Real Estate Division of the Jewish Federation because I wanted to give back to my community. In exchange, I connected with some of the most successful people in the business. Nothing mercenary here. You can do good for yourself while doing good for others. It has to be mutually beneficial.
  3. House of Worship. What better place is there to find people with whom you share similar values? Yes, I know. Not everyone is a saint. But that doesn’t matter. You’re looking to sift through the hundreds or dozens to find the few with whom you’ll build a solid relationship. One of the best parts is most congregations have social events on a regular basis so all you’ll have to do is show up. Maybe you’ll have to bring a hot dish but that’s a small price to pay. Do you attend a small church? Consider looking for somewhere bigger. I understand you may feel uncomfortable. That’s a good reason to do it. Most of the best connections you’ll make will be outside your comfort zone.

Now you need to take action. No new connection was ever made through osmosis. No productive relationship ever came into being without effort. Everything you want in life hinges on working with other people. Who are they? Where are they? You have the tools to answer these questions. Go use them.

Where have you found is the best place for making connections? Please comment below.

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