Tag Archives: jobs

These Erroneous Beliefs Will Sabotage Your Job-Hunt

Are You Wasting Your Time Getting Certifications?

2-½ minutes to read

Certifications top most veterans’ list of important job qualifications. But recall you didn't have any when entered the military. Success came from your attitude. Recruits who absorbed the military ethos and gained expertise succeeded. Those who didn't washed out…

These Erroneous Beliefs Will Sabotage Your Job-Hunt

The Pivotal Factor for Reintegration

Two types of sailors come through WTP Sembach. You might think the divide follows one of these lines:

  • Active vs. reserve component
  • Enlisted vs. officer
  • Single vs. married

These divisions define the challenges they’ll face reintegrating. But none of them indicates whether a sailor makes a successful transition.

The Officer-in-Charge and I considered young vs. old as being the relevant distinction. But many redeployers in their mid-40s to early 50s soak up all we have to teach them. They report overcoming significant hurdles in the few days they spend with us.

The crusty old senior chief sitting in the back of the room didn’t seem to be paying attention. But when I asked him about his experience with sailors in grief his posture changed. For the rest of the workshop he sat up, his body tilted forward, engaged.

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That’s when the answer struck me. The actual division is open vs. closed. Sailors’ age, rate/rank, and marital status don't matter. Their openness to learning and growing is all that counts.

To Get Certifications or Not

Another conversation exposed a different barrier. The person indicated only certain licenses and degrees confer expertise. Otherwise, no matter how much experience someone has in a field, a smart person’s thoughts are as valuable.

In America, many people consider claiming expertise to be egotistical or undemocratic. Tom Nichols wrote about this issue in The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters. But if you have greater knowledge and experience in a field, saying so is a matter of fact. Having such expertise doesn't make you better than other people. It makes you more qualified to engage or lead in a field.

There aren’t certifications for most of what you learned and did in the military. If you don't recognize expertise without certifications backing it up, you have nothing to sell but your labor. As a commodity, labor is worth no more than about $45,000 a year. These days, for positions with the most income and growth potential, companies want demonstrated leadership ability and problem-solving expertise. Degrees don’t matter.

Companies don't fire older workers because they’re old. They get rid of them because younger workers can do the same job for less money. Older workers who throughout their careers increased their expertise and leadership ability have become more valuable to the company. Younger people can’t replace them because they haven't had enough time to achieve a similar level. Such older workers not only get retained, they continue to advance.

The military works the same way. At the E5/E6 level, technical knowledge growth has peaked. Going forward, the ability to train, mentor, and lead is what counts. Service members who don't move beyond technical mastery face high-year tenure.

Do you believe you can succeed in civilian life even as you resist change? Do you think only certifications prove expertise? These two beliefs will prevent you're getting a high-paying job you’ll love.

Change them, and your ideal job awaits you…

In what area does your knowledge exceed most people’s?

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How to Use Pain to Overcome Transition Hurdles

Do You Make Pain Your Reintegration Ally?

2-½ minutes to read

As many as a hundred and fifty sailors come through WTP Sembach each week. Few had an easy time during deployment. The heat and austere operating environment challenged them. Sometimes they had to toughen themselves to substandard leadership. You can quit a civilian job. But you can't quit deployment. At least not without leaving the military on bad terms. Such physical and emotional pain exposes weaknesses…

How to Use Pain to Overcome Transition Hurdles

The Power of Pain

The Navy deploys many sailors to Bahrain, home of the U.S. 5th Fleet. Those who go to Manama live in high-quality hotels, eat good food, and have access to lots of amenities.

But the sailors assigned to Isa Air Base live a Spartan existence. The heat is often unbearable. A few weeks ago, the air conditioning in working dog’s kennel broke. When discovered three hours later, the animal was close to death. With no veterinarian on base, a human medical team responded. Despite valiant efforts, the dog died.

Though it may sound trivial, the loss of this canine hit people hard. It traumatized more than one of the medical team. It desolated a young woman who visited the dogs to maintain her resilience. Bureaucracy moves slowly. But policy for checking on military dogs changed overnight as a result of this incident.

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Pain has enormous power to drive change. It also has the ability to freeze a person as he is.

4 Steps to Using Pain for Gain

When in a painful situation, you can respond in two ways. Most people seek to free themselves from pain. The sooner they get relief the better. In doing so, they fail to take advantage of pain’s ability to help them.

Athletes know how to benefit from pain. They create training plans that push beyond their limits. Increasing strength and endurance requires suffering sore muscles and joints. In the crucible of intentional discomfort, they progress toward their goals.

Pain can strengthen your mind and spirit too. Such changes usually come through random events. But you can create a training regimen to adapt your identity, build up mental acuity, and toughen your spirit.

If a basketball player chokes when throwing free throws, he’ll practice them until it hurts. He’ll analyze every movement of his body. With painstaking precision, he’ll determine where he’s failing. Then he’ll drill himself to correct these flaws.

Life transitions are filled with mental and spiritual challenges. Train to overcome them like an athlete would:

1. Pinpoint Your Shortcomings. Is your identity holding you back? Do you get tongue-tied when asking the hiring manager for the job? When you get too many rejections in a day does your spirit let you stop job-hunting? Find your weaknesses by asking hiring managers who didn't give you a job. Talk with a transition coach.

2. Own Them. You won't endure the pain of change if you convince yourself everything is okay. Don't beat yourself up. Acknowledge where you need to grow.

3. Make a Training Plan. Develop a blueprint to strengthen your weak points. It's best in a controlled situation. Partner with another veteran. Brainstorm ways to overcome your obstacles. Practice them. Get feedback. Work with a coach. If necessary, use actual meetings to train. Some meetings for a job don't go well. Use them as exercises to build your abilities. Have a couple of strategies ready to try and see how it goes. What have you got to lose?

4. Push to the Pain Point. Make sure your plan takes you beyond your comfort zone. Don't injure your mind or spirit. But use pain as a tool to embed change.

Competition in the private sector is fierce. We win in combat by out training the enemy. Adapt the same strategy for reintegrating to civilian life. Use pain to gain.

Who can you partner with to train for your transition?

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How to Be Wealthy and Virtuous

Do You Know the Source of Money’s Value?

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vayechi – Genesis 47:28-50:26

These days, few people question the virtue of military service. Most veterans want to continue to serve after they leave active duty. Many think the only way to do this is to work for a nonprofit or the government. When I say working for a FOR-PROFIT company is noble they look at me like I’m crazy…

How to Be Wealthy and Virtuous

Is Money Evil?

A friend once asked me whether the Torah supports capitalism or socialism. I told him, in general, you can find support for both sides of such questions. Like or not, our economic system combines aspects of both.

The Torah concerns itself with how to live a proper life. When you examine the morality behind a political issue, it has a lot to say. Parshas Vayechi clarifies a major aspect of political debate in our country:

“He [Zebulun] will be at the ship’s harbor, and his last border will reach Zidon.” (Bereshis/Genesis 49:13)

As Jacob neared death, he blessed Joseph’s sons Manasseh and Ephraim, thereby making them in effect of his sons. Then he blessed his own sons, though some of the blessings sound more like reprimands.

Jacob gives his blessings in the order his sons were born. But there’s one exception. Even though Issachar is older, Zebulun’s blessing precedes his. The reason shows G-d’s attitude toward money.

Issachar and his sons devoted themselves to studying the Torah. But they had wives and children to support. Either they had to take time away from learning or someone had to support them. In steps Zebulun. He and his sons engaged in commerce. Then they gave part of their wealth to Issachar.

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If making money were just an okay thing to do, Jacob would have blessed Zebulun in order. By having him precede Issachar, he showed the nobility that comes from earning more than you need so you can help others.

Money’s Value Comes from How It's Used

Nonprofits do good work. And government provides important functions. But for-profit businesses generate the money that supports them.

Money is neither good nor bad. The same is true of profits. It all comes down to how they're used. G-d finds no merit in is a Scrooge-like accumulation of wealth. But even mega-wealthy people such as Andrew Carnegie appeared worthy before teh Almighty. While they lived opulent lives they also used their money to build libraries, museums, and hospitals.

The Torah acknowledges that for various reasons some people will be poor. But it finds no particular merit in poverty. Nor does the materialism of people like the Sodomites entitle them to praise. G-d commends those who, like Zebulun, pursue wealth in service of taking care of His children.

Question – Can someone be wealthy and a good person?

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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!

How to Adapt Your Identity to the Private Sector

Do You Know the Military Traits that Challenge Civilians?

2-½ minutes to read

Reservists who deploy for six to twelve months face a daunting challenge. They need to quickly adapt to military life. In processing helps awaken their dormant military identity. Dress, attitude, and demeanor shift out of civilian mode. But then they finish their deployment. And they have to reorient to civilian life again. This cycle of identity changes repeats itself…

How to Adapt Your Identity to the Private Sector

Certain Traits Identify You’re Military

The Marine Corps is known for instilling a strong identity in its people. Even Marines long out of the Corps call themselves Marines. Indeed, each branch of the military uses training to embed a unique ethos into its people.

Several characteristics make service members readily identifiable:

Uniforms. Without a doubt, military dress identifies us. But even the civilian clothes we wear are distinctive. Khaki slacks, a polo shirt, and a dark blue blazer are standard attire when job-hunting. How are civilians in your field dressing for meetings and everyday work?

Grooming Standards. Most men in America don’t have short hair. Join it with clean-shaven and you can spot a service member a mile off. This doesn't bother most civilians but it does cause you to stand out.

Formality. Post-deployment you're used to calling people sir and ma’am. You refer to colleagues by their last names and/or job title. Both mark you as a military person. In the private sector, people don't call a coworker “team leader” (Sergeant) or “network troubleshooter” (IT1). Use first names unless you hear people doing otherwise.

Tone. Military speech is direct and abrupt. It sounds harsh to a civilian ear. Tone it down.

Jargon. If you call a restroom a head your civilian colleagues won't know what you mean. But, they may call HR and report you. Get back into your civilian field’s jargon.

Taunting. The way people pick on each other in the military used to be common throughout society. People poked fun at each other, including at race and gender. Most service members let it roll off their backs. In civilian life, it’s called harassment. Don't do it.

Some military traits have become common in civilian life. People swear in private sector workplaces. But they have a way to go to reach the level of the military. As well, many civilians have tattoos. But service members tend to have military imagery.

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During deployment, these characteristics root in military people without their realizing it. When they get home, family and friends see the change. But the service member just sees himself.

2 Steps to Adapting Your Identity

In the desire to get back to loved ones, reservists rarely take time to re-set their identities. They take off their uniforms. But they show up in the workplace with a distinctive military personality. Conflict begins.

What sounds like a request to a military person sounds like an order to a civilian. Sir and ma’am grate on the ear. Rules restrict work hours. It’s dismaying after having spent the previous seven months working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week making sure the job got done.

Some civilians attempt to adopt military jargon to connect with veterans. But lack of experience leads to clumsy results. Military people use the term “sandbox” when referring to Iraq or Afghanistan. But the term can sound dismissive when civilians use it.

Less than 0.4% of Americans are on active military service. About 7% are veterans. But this includes all wars. Many have long since transitioned to civilian life. No matter how much our fellow citizens respect our service, we can't expect them to overturn society for us.

We're the ones who have to reset our identities:

1. Assess which military characteristics you exhibit.

2. Choose the easiest one to change. Figure out a civilian mode. Practice it. Pay special attention to doing it when with civilians.

You have to learn to navigate the private sector using civilian practices. The sooner you get started the better your transition will be.

What is your most distinctive military characteristic?

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How to Have the Civilian Life You Want

Are You Getting in Your Own Way?

2-½ minutes to read

Zig Ziglar, the famous motivational coach, tells a story about when he decided to lose weight. He started running. He ran in hot weather and cold, rain and shine. I’ve followed his example. Years ago while at Camp Fuji in January I ran ON the snow. Earlier this week, I ran IN it. That’s what you do when you’re a runner. You run…

How to Have the Civilian Life You Want

The 3 Facets of Your Identity

Military people, especially reservists, cycle their identities on a regular basis. We all start out as civilians. When we join the military, we gain a new purpose. Our service branch turns us into a Soldier, Marine, Sailor, or Airman. We adopt the mission of defending our nation.

The challenge comes when your service ends. A military identity doesn't work in the civilian world. Active duty service members have to shift out of an identity ingrained for years. Reservists need to cycle back to their civilian self.

When you know the components you can be intentional about making modifications. Your identity has three facets:

Purpose. This facet looks inward. It defines who you want to be. Aspects might include being a dedicated husband, a loving father, and accomplished professional.

Mission. This facet describes the impact you want to have on others. Your mission should put the person/purpose you are to work in the service of other people. You can do this as an employee of a company, by starting your own business, or working for a nonprofit organization.

Goals. This facet puts action to the other two. By meeting these objectives, you pursue your mission and fulfill your purpose.

These three facets should work in concert. Veterans get into trouble when their purpose and mission conflict. They struggle when their goals take them in the wrong direction.

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Creating a coherent identity challenges many reservists and people leaving active duty. Gaining clarity on each facet can be difficult. Eliminating conflict between them poses an equally daunting task.

2 Obstacles to a More Resourceful Identity

Two desires tend to prevent military people from figuring out their identities.

Opportunity. Such things as a job that looks too good to pass up may preempt a serious examination of your identity. Who cares about fulfillment when hard dollars are at stake?

Anxiety. Many concerns may prevent the intentional creation of a cohesive identity. It can be frightening to confront a side of yourself you don't like. Creating your purpose requires prioritizing various aspects. You may have to give up a part of yourself so you’ll have enough time for more crucial parts.

This isn't a new idea. In 1905, while a cadet at the Military Academy, it was evident:

Once you have a unified identity, the challenge becomes to live it. Most of the time, being a runner supports my identity. It keeps me fit and gives me time to think. But sometimes it unbalances me. Running in the snow was glorious in the moment. But it wasn’t worth it since it slowed me down for two days afterward.

Reintegrating to civilian life doesn’t require giving up your military self. But you’ll have to make some modifications to get along in this new environment. Begin by developing a revised purpose. From that, create a mission for civilian life. Then set them in motion with compelling goals…

What aspect of your purpose has/had to change so you can gain success in civilian life?

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