Tag Archives: Careers

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

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

 

 

 

Soft Military Skills That Deliver Hard Results for Military Veteran Careers

Translating and applying military skills sets to post-military careers is an invaluable, essential, and vital steps for military veterans to have the best opportunity for career success following military service.  Leadership, Coaching, Training, and finding Solutions to problems are only a few of the ways to add value.  The way to get excited, engaged, and successful in your new civilian career is to leverage and employ your hard-learned military skills in your new civilian career.

US Air Force Engineers

                      US Air Force Engineers

Soft Military Skill For Civilian Career Success #1 – Help Your Boss Define Success.  In the military, as junior leaders, we were used to helping advice, assisting, and developing our military commanders in their professional duties.  Key to this development was helping them determine the description and definition of a successful military operation.  In the civilian world, some leaders are extremely protective of their professional position and may resent the ideas of a subordinate helping them define success.  To help leaders overcome their fear, start with a small project and show how you can define the success.  This is a small impact and powerful example that shows your boss what can be done without appearing to threaten their authority.

Soft Military Skill For Civilian Career Success #2 – Train Your Team To Excel At Their Current (and Future) Jobs.  Another military skill that works great for the civilian workplace is training others to do their jobs better and how to do your job.  Often times, people believe that by not teaching others how to perform their job, they preserve their position.  However, by not training a replacement, you confine yourself to your current position because you cannot be replaced.  Training, developing, educating, and improving your team to perform their jobs better and how to do your job makes them better at their own jobs, makes your team better, and makes your team motivated because you are demonstrating how they can succeed in their careers.

Soft Military Skill For Civilian Career Success #3 – Ensure Life Outside of Work Is Good.  A classic military job of the Squad Leader or Section Leader was to check on Soldiers outside of work, in the barracks, and their home off base.  The belief was that if a person was having trouble outside of work, then how they could perform well while at work.  This applies equally in the civilian workplace.  Most workers want to keep their work and home life private, which is fine.  Inquiring about how their children are doing, their spouse, and the general activities of their home life is a great way to show that you care without being to obtrusive.  In addition, giving employees time off for major life events and personal emergencies, as long as it is not over used, is a great way to demonstrate that you care personally about them and their success.

Soft Military Skill For Civilian Career Success #4 – Create, Test, and Offer Solutions for Problems Then Implement.  Another great military skill set is when problem identification, initiative and execution intersect.  This is when people identify problems, create a solution, test to make sure it works, and then implement the solution all with their own initiative.  This discipline to creativity, innovation, and initiative is what makes military and civilian teams great.  Again, many civilian bosses can be uncomfortable with this initiative, but it has great value to a business and to customer satisfaction.  Start with small problems, solve this effectively, and move onto larger challenges.

Soft skills from the military combine initiative, leadership, problem definition, idea creation, innovative solutions, and effective execution.  Some civilian bosses make time to become comfortable with these concepts, but all civilian leaders will find them effective and the right task to perform to make customers satisfied and create a profitable business that customers want to use repeatedly.

THIS ARTICLE RE-PUBLISHED COURTESY OF USAA.  ORIGINAL PUBLISHED HERE.