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10 Steps To Create a Career Network For Post-Military Job Seekers

This Content Courtesy of USAA.

Here is a simple, direct, and effective process for how to build a network to help you find a post-military career or find and start a new career.

  1. What do I Want to Do, Learn, Or Achieve Through Networking – Your Goal? Brainstorm what your purpose and goals are for networking.  Are you seeking employment, a closer connection with a hiring manager, or do you want to learn a new skill, such as sales?  Knowing what you want to achieve through networking is vital.

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  1. Write Your Mission Statement for Networking. Use the format of the military mission statement (Who, What, When, Where, and Why) to precisely outline your goals and what you want to achieve.  Here is a sample mission statement for networking.

Networking Mission Statement: As a military veteran transitioning into the civilian economy (WHO), I want to gain 3-4 job offers from Midwestern based manufacturing companies (GOAL).  To accomplish this, I will conduct research, direct mail, and phone contacts (WHAT) of the top 10 Fortune 100 manufacturing companies with plants based in MN, IA, KS, MO, NE, SD, and OK (WHERE) over the next 3 months (WHEN).  The creation of a personal network will help me understand available opportunities, company cultures; important skill sets, and positions me to have relationships in the company beyond HR and the hiring manager (WHY).

  1. Define Your Value to a Company & Career. Too often, veterans only consider their technical skills and do not leverage their full range of military skills for business.  Military veterans need to leverage their military skills for an employer in a format that the employer needs.  Networking contacts want to talk about what you can bring to a company.
  1. Conduct Research of Networking Contacts. Based on your target locations from your mission statement and goals, use Business Week, Fortune, The New York Times, Hoover’s, Company Websites, the Leadership Directories – Corporate, and other sources to identify business leaders, company, name, position and their postal addresses.  A military veteran should contact other mid-level leaders in an industry (industries) that they would like to work to learn more about the industry, what it takes to succeed, and to position them for employment.  A great technique is to look through the work biographies of key leaders to see if any of them are military veterans.  Vets nearly always help other vets.  Use your local library, both physical location and on line, they have lots of databases and people who can help.
  1. Create a Simple Excel Database of Your Contacts. As you conduct your research, build a database in Excel with the following fields to help you begin to build your own personal database.  This database that you build will be used in the next step to conduct a letter writing campaign to meet your networking goal.  You should capture the following: First Name, Last Name, Position, Department, Company Name, Street Address 1, Street Address 2, City, State, Zip Code, Phone Number, E-Mail, Date Mailed 1, Date Mailed 2, Date Called 1, Date Called 2, and Other Names to Contact.  You should plan on having 20-25 prospective contacts per company that you are interested in.  You should assume about a 20% response rate to your letters – so if you have 20 prospective networking contacts, you can reasonably expect ~4 people to contact you to network.

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  1. Write Your Networking Letter. A simple, direct and clear networking letter to your prospective contacts works very well to create contacts as well as demonstrate your skills.  You should write your letter stating that you are interested to build connections that will help you understand the company, industry, and the business environment.  Do not directly ask for a job.  You can have two or three questions on how the contact started their career, other people to talk to, and what the growth areas are in the industry – these are invaluable for your search.  Make sure your contact information is included, the letter is free from grammar and spelling errors, and the letter is only one page.  When networking, letters are a wonderful resource to contact specific people in companies (but not only the HR department), because people receive very little “snail” mail anymore.  Use a personal direct mail campaign to help build a network.
  1. Mail Your Letters. Use the Mail Merge function in Microsoft Word to create professional looking labels, letters, and envelopes.  You can include 1-2 business cards with your letter as well.  Try to time the arrival of your letters to a Thursday or a Friday when an executive will have time to read them – Monday and Tuesday are very meeting & travel heavy for most people.
  1. Follow Up with a Phone Call. Wait 3-4 days after your letters arrive and call the networking prospect to schedule a call.  It is possible, but doubtful, that someone can take your call immediately.  Schedule 30 minutes to discuss your questions.  Confirm the date, time, time zone, phone number, and other contact information.  Use Microsoft Outlook or some other scheduling program that allows changes.  The follow up phone call to schedule a networking discussion time is vital to show your interest and build the relationship.
  1. Conduct the Networking Meeting. During the networking meeting, take time to explain your goals, ask how to learn about the industry, explain your military background, as well as your skill sets.  It is vital that you use these sessions to understand about the person, company, industry, and business challenges.  Do not oversell yourself.  Use this time to make sure the company, industry, and corporate culture will fit you.  At the conclusion, thank the person for their time, schedule another meeting time, and see if there are 2-3 others that you can talk to.  Enter these new prospective contacts and the results of your meeting in your Excel database.  In the follow up meetings, you can begin to explore job prospects and opportunities.

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  1. Plan for Success and Embrace Failure. In combat, we always planned as best we could for a successful mission, but also planned multiple contingencies and back up plans to account for enemy actions and other possible points of failure so that, no matter what happened, the mission would be successful.  When you transition, your networking and job application plan should have multiple back up plans and contingencies as you start your new career.  If you are not immediately successful, relax, step back, reassesses, learn, and move forward.  This happens to everyone and you need to expect a tough road ahead.  A resourceful candidate leverages failure to make them better for the next opportunity and plans multiple opportunities so they are successful in their quest for a new or a better job.

 

Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

  1. 5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT
  2. After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2q8QzAg
  3. Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition – http://bit.ly/2qMqrhB
  4. USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2zsUF
  5. USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA – http://bit.ly/2qMoz8x
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2rI53Iu
  7. USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q8R8tS
  8. USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – bit.ly/2q2RGp5
  9. USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning – http://bit.ly/2qOdMJc
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Tips For Military Veterans To Have An Effective Career Fair

This Content Provided Courtesy of USAA.

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Planning for an effective military to civilian transition is one of the most vital things to do for an effective career, family, and financial transition.  A job fair also known as a career fair is one of those steps.  Here are some tips how to have an effective and rewarding career fair.

 

1.     Arrive Early, Hydrated, and Fed.  Job fairs start early.  Arrive early to get a place in line and a close parking spot

2.     Dress for The Job You Want.  Plan to attend a job fair in professional and conservative business attire – a jacket, tie, dress shoes, and dress slacks.  It is tempting to wear your uniform, but a professional employer wants to be able to see you in their organization, not as a soldier, sailor, marine, or airmen.  Finally, impeccable personal dress is a way to standout.  Finally, wear comfortable shoes, you will do a lot of walking.

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3.     Have a Plan.  Create a personal plan for the companies that you want to meet with and have a personalized cover letter and resume for each of these companies.  This way, you have a personalized card, cover letter, and resume for each company when you speak to them.  This amount of preparation and personalization makes a substantial difference.

4.     Be Prepared to Interview.  Be ready and able to have a 30-60-minute interview with a company.  If you make a great first impression, the company may want to interview right on the spot.  Use the STARS format to answer interview questions.

a.     Situation, Task, Action, Result, Skills (STARS)

b.     Situation:  Describe the context within which you performed a job or faced a challenge at work.

c.      Task: Describe your responsibility in that situation.

d.     Action: Describe how you completed the task or endeavored to meet the challenge. Focus on what you did, rather than what your team, boss, or coworker did.

e.     Result: Finally, explain the outcomes or results generated by the action taken.

f.       Skills: Skills you used to be successful – includes both hard (technical) skills and soft skills (leadership, teaching, etc.).

g.     Create 6-10 sentence answers to frequent questions on leadership, improvements, cost savings, and how you learned a new skill.

5.     Attend the Classes.  Career fairs are often filled with classes on resume reviews by HR professionals, panels of employers, and other resources to help in a career change.  Take advantage and network during these training opportunities.

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6.     Have a Follow Up Plan.  When you meet with the companies, ask when you can follow up for more information, an interview, and get phone numbers and interviews for the follow up.

7.     A Career Fair Is Only One Way to Find a Job.  Don’t expect a career fair to be your entire answer to secure employment.  Continue to network, have personal interviews, and contact companies for other opportunities.  Remember, your goal is not one, but multiple job offers to be successful.

 

Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

  1. 5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT
  2. After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2q8QzAg
  3. Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition – http://bit.ly/2qMqrhB
  4. USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2zsUF
  5. USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA – http://bit.ly/2qMoz8x
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2rI53Iu
  7. USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q8R8tS
  8. USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – bit.ly/2q2RGp5
  9. USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning – http://bit.ly/2qOdMJc

 

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Happy 242nd Birthday To The US Army

Happbirthday22y 242nd Birthday To The US Army

This Content Courtesy of USAA.

June 14, 2017 marks the 242nd Birthday of the United States Army. The US Army is the oldest military service (besting the US Navy by just a few months)! Below are some of the traditions, missions, and values that define the US Army as a military service.

Army Birthday Traditions. Every US Army unit celebrates, remembers, and recognizes the US Army birthday in some way. There can be unit formation runs, Army Band concerts, military balls, formal dinners, or a cup of coffee and a piece of cake — cut with a sword or bayonet, of course. The Army Birthday is a time when everyone in the US Army, US Army National Guard, US Army Reserve, US Army Civilians, US Army Veterans, and family members pause, reflect, and join together to recognize all that the US Army has done and is doing.

Mission of The US Army. The U.S. Army’s mission is to fight and win our Nation’s wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the full range of military operations and spectrum of conflict in support of combatant commanders.

The US Army Values: There are seven US Army Values that create a great personal reminder of the combined value of performance, ethics, loyalty, and courage to complete assigned tasks.

  1. LOYALTY — Bearing true faith and allegiance is a matter of believing in and devoting yourself to something or someone.
  2. DUTY — Duty means being able to accomplish tasks as part of a team. The work of the U.S. Army is a complex combination of missions, tasks and responsibilities — all in constant motion.
  3. RESPECT — Treat people as they should be treated. Respect is what allows us to appreciate the best in other people. Respect is trusting that all people have done their jobs and fulfilled their duty.
  4. SELFLESS SERVICE — Put the welfare of the nation, the Army and your subordinates before your own. The basic building block of selfless service is the commitment of each team member to go a little further, endure a little longer, and look a little closer to see how he or she can add to the effort.
  5. HONOR — Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do.
  6. INTEGRITY — Do what’s right, legally and morally. Integrity is a quality you develop by adhering to moral principles.
  7. PERSONAL COURAGE — Face fear, danger or adversity (physical or moral). Personal courage has long been associated with our Army.

SOURCE: US ARMY Values, https://www.army.mil/values/index.html

Get to Know More About the US Army:

Other Military Service Birthdays:

  • US Army — June 14, 1775
  • US Navy — October 13, 1775
  • US Marine Corps — November 10, 1775
  • US Coast Guard — August 4, 1790
  • US Air Force — September 18, 1947

Please share your stories of US Army Birthday’s past and present and how you celebrated the day!

Related Posts:

  1. Lessons in Appreciating Diversity from World War II
  2. Teach Your Boss About the Military for National Guard and Reserve Members
  3. How Military Strategy Can Help Your Career Strategy
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10 Steps for An Effective Military to Civilian Transition

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SPONSORED CONTENT COURTESY OF USAA.

Here are 10 Easy to Follow and High Impact Steps for An Effective Career Transition:

  1. Attitude is Everything. Attitude is one of the most important mental criteria that will make an employee shine in terms of both performance and leadership.  Ensure you have a positive and constructive attitude for even the most seemingly mundane tasks.  In addition, have a positive attitude even if you believe that your new position is below your level of responsibility in the military.
  1. Be Open to New Experiences. Often, when we are exposed to a vast array of new experiences, we fall back on our military ways and mind sets.  These uncertainties in the economy, fluidity of roles in a commercial organization, and differences between the veteran and non-veteran employees can encourage a status-quo or “pull back” approach by the veteran employee.   No matter the expressed definition of workplace activity and company roles, you should dive into whatever roles and experiences are offered immediately.
  1. Further Your Education. Community colleges offer good overview business classes to improve your baseline knowledge of business in such vital areas as Accounting, Finance, Statistics, or Applied Mathematics.  If possible, take them in person because fellow students, professors, and college staff are great resources for networking.
  1. Leverage Your Military Experience to Your Company and Job. Veterans need to translate their military 8dbb6e22bde6dd23a486f6c0c3798347skills to their businesses and organizations in a fashion that supports the culture and work practices of their company.  Look for ways to translate and apply your military skills in a way that supports your company’s culture, workplace practices, and the rules & regulations of your industry.
  1. Mentor an Individual or Group. Mentoring or coaching is a fantastic skill to help build talent, commitment, and initiative in an organization.  In the military, performance counseling sessions was a way to identify the standard of the organization, how a soldier performed to that standard, and what step (s) would be taken to improve the soldier’s performance.  Ken Hicks, an Army veteran and the CEO of Foot Locker, stated, “So I learned that you’re very dependent on your people to be their best. You train and develop and motivate them.”
  1. Pointerviewrtray a Professional Image in Dress and Conduct. You should strive to portray and supportive physical and mental bearing in the workplace.   John Meyer, an Air Force Veteran and the CEO or Acxiom, stated in a Harvard Business Review Blog post, “I think professionalism and professional appearance is pretty important because it gives you the first impression, the benefit of the doubt. If you look the part, you get the opportunity to show whether you’re competent or not.”  Remember, as a rule, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.  Your quality of speech needs to be clear, understandable, free of non-industry jargon, no use of military acronyms, no use of military phrases, confident, and compelling.  Absolutely avoid swearing, insulting other cultural or ethnic groups, and demeaning language at all costs, even if others portray poor word and language choices.
  1. Teach A Class. Teaching in the military was something everyone did as a part of training no matter your service, rank, and specialty.  Teaching is a wonderful way to build confidence, position yourself as an expert, and improve your presentation skills.  Volunteer with a charity, education, business, or government organization to teach a class or series of classes to show how military skill sets can be translated for business.
  1. Use Only Positive Words & Conduct on Social Media. Ensure that your look on all Social Media is “clean” and portrays you and your company in the best possible light.  Limit any mention of your new employer for at least 6-8 months until you understand all your company’s social media policies.  If in doubt, do not use any social media to talk about your employer.
  1. Watch the Use of Sir / Ma’am and Other Military Speech Patterns. In the corporate world, expect to use a first name, but defer and treat seniors respectfully as if they were higher military officer.  A senior vice president needs to be respected like a general / flag officer even though you use a first name.
  1. Websites to Stay Up to Date – Quick and Easy on Business News. Just like reading the morning and evening intelligence reports, staying current on today’s important news is necessary.  Websites such as the New York Times, Business Week, Fortune, Washington Post, Google News Custom Alerts, Smart Brief, Harvard Business Review Blogs, and the Corporate Advisory Board all have daily e-mail’s that deliver the innovative business news to your e-mail for free.  Scheduled e-mail news is the easiest and most efficient way to stay up to date.

 

Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

  1. 5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT
  2. After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA – http://bit.ly/2q8QzAg
  3. Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition – http://bit.ly/2qMqrhB
  4. USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q2zsUF
  5. USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA – http://bit.ly/2qMoz8x
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2rI53Iu
  7. USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – http://bit.ly/2q8R8tS
  8. USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) – bit.ly/2q2RGp5
  9. USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning – http://bit.ly/2qOdMJc

 

 

 

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Remember On A Personal Level This Memorial Day

Memorial Day2SPONSORED CONTENT COURTESY OF USAA.

Memorial Day is a solemn holiday that is difficult to appreciate. What makes it difficult is how to honor and how to remember in an appropriate and respectful manner for the military members who fell in battle. The best way to remember the fallen on Memorial Day is to make Memorial Day a day of personal memories, sharing, and respect.

Fly a Flag at Your Home. Flying a flag at your home is a wonderful way to make sure that you remember the sacrifice of Memorial Day the entire day. If you can, have everyone in your neighborhood fly their flags. Memorial Day helps remind us how special America is and the fluttering of flags along neighborhoods, on lawns, and from windows makes everyone pause, remember, and appreciate the greatest sacrifice a service member can make.

Remember the Favorite Times & Share the Stories of Fallen Friends. This is one of the hardest pieces of advice to give about Memorial Day. Remembering and appreciating fallen friends is very hard because it brings back such intense emotions that do not fade quickly. However, it transforms Memorial Day into a day of personal memory and growth. A few stories about my friends that fell. One of my friends was a Special Forces, military ski instructor the day I first met him. I was brand new to my Special Forces unit and I was trying (and failing) to ski some intermediate downhill terrain in my military issue skis and boots. I was, literally, pulling my head from a snow bank when I looked up and saw him beautifully skiing swiftly down the terrain that I had just tumbled down. He skied down to me, helped me up, and then taught me how to ski better. He helped inspire me to be a better officer from that day forward. These are the memories of my friends that I want to share and I want others to remember. Memorial Day is not a day to remember how military members died. I want my friend remembered for being a great leader, for being a skilled Special Forces Non-Commissioned Officer, and for being an inspiration to everyone that met him. Memorial Day is a day to remember the men and women and what made them great soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen.

Go & Visit a National Cemetery to Respect Fallen Military Members. Finding a national or state cemetery close to your home is a moving way to begin Memorial Day. If you can, go at dawn and watch the sunrise over the headstones. Walking among the graves, reading the names, and remembering the conflict that the soldier, sailor, marine, or airmen fell in is a moving and instructive way for children to remember Memorial Day. What always, always strikes me when I visit National Cemeteries is the sheer number of the fallen. I always see soldiers in formations which then fades into the images of the headstone. Every headstone has a memory, a face, and a family. Look up the closest National Cemetery through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs website at https://www.cem.va.gov/cem/cems/listcem.asp

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Reach Out to Surviving Family Members of the Fallen. If you know someone personally who had a family member fall in battle reach out to them before or after Memorial Day. When you talk to them, tell them one or several of your own stories of what you remember about the person who gave their life for the country. This simple act of reaching out, listening, and sharing your own memories is invaluable for their remembrances. Sharing and remembering funny stories and special occasions re-creates and remembers everything that made that person special.

Donate to the Children of the Fallen. Remembering the children of the fallen is a meaningful way to make a difference on Memorial Day. If you can, donate to a program that creates college scholarships for these children. Even better, serve as a coach, as a tutor, or as a mentor to help these children overcome the loss of a parent and become the great person that is inside each one of them. Helping a child of the fallen is one of the best things to help continue the memory of their fallen parent.

This Memorial Day remember and re-appreciate the fallen on a personal level. Share the stories and special memories of fallen friends and make others see how they were special not because they fell, but by being the people they were. Visiting a National Cemetery and reaching out to surviving family members is a profound way to listen and understand how special and unique the fallen servicemember was. Finally, find a way through donations, mentoring, or other forms of support to help the children of the fallen to become great people. Memorial Day is special when we remember the fallen at a personal level.

 

Related stories and information:

Demonstrate Your Military Values at Work Every Day

Bring the Advice from Your Military Mentors to Work

Commemorate the Service of Military Veterans With Together We Served

 

The Memorial Day poppy is inspired by the World War I poem, “In Flanders Fields” by Lt.Col. John McCrae of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Visit USAA’s virtual poppy wall where you can dedicate a #PoppyinMemory at  http://poppyinmemory.com

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