Author: lori-bumgarner


How to Go From Military Hero to Civilian Employee

When I first started out in career coaching, I worked as the director of a career center at a college located next to the largest military installation in the world. Many of our students were U.S. service men and women earning their degrees on the G.I. Bill and looking to make the transition from the military to a civilian job. I salute them for their service in celebration of Veterans Day this week!

But making the transition from the military to a civilian career path was not easy for most of them. I had to help several of them understand how their military skills transferred to civilian work. I also helped them re-word their résumés to use more civilian-friendly terminology to make them more marketable to potential employers.

It was an honor to work with such fine men and women and to help them use their skills to serve their communities in new and different ways.

Jamie’s story

There are numerous companies who want to hire veterans. But just being wanted doesn’t guarantee you a job. And listing your military service on your resume doesn’t even guarantee you an interview. You still have to know and understand the do’s and don’ts of the job search.

For example, I once had a client named Jamie who came to me because for two and a half years since leaving the military she had not had any luck in her job search. Despite being a veteran and applying with companies known for hiring veterans, she couldn’t even land an interview.

Jamie was in her late 20s to early 30s, had proudly served her country, and was honorably discharged. In the two and a half years since she’d left the military she’d started her own animal rescue non-profit and earned an MBA while also conducting her job search. She had mad skills!

When she first came to me she said,

“Obviously I’m doing something wrong, but I haven’t been able to figure out what it is. Maybe you can show me.”

She knew there was something she was missing. She just didn’t know what it was. After all this time she finally recognized her need for someone to point out her blind spots and show her the way.

Jamie’s transition into a civilian employee

When I began working with Jamie, it quickly became apparent to me she needed to make some small tweaks on her resume and learn some new interview skills she’d never previously learned.

There were some things she’d included on her resume she thought were assets. However, hiring managers instead viewed them as liabilities. I had her remove those from her resume immediately.

Just a couple days later Jamie got a call for an interview. I spent a few sessions preparing her for the interview. I taught her the interview skills she lacked and did mock interviews with her while providing feedback on how to improve.

Jamie said:

“I had no idea until now what I’ve been doing wrong all this time!”

A week later, Jamie got the job offer. In fact, the gentleman who offered her the job commented,

“By the way, you gave a really good interview. I have a family member who has a job interview coming up. Do you think you could help her prepare for it?”

How to make the transition to civilian employment

If you’re a veteran making the transition into civilian employment, here are some tips to help you better market your past experience for civilian opportunities.

1. Get help

First, if the trauma from your military experience has resulted in PTSD or any other problems that could negatively affect your future work performance, get help! Take advantage of any and all resources and support offered by the military and the VA.

If these problems are not addressed early and appropriately, it could lead to poor work performance. And if you get fired from your first civilian job, it will be even more difficult to find your next civilian job.

2. Build a civilian network

Next, build a civilian network by starting with the people you already know, including fellow service men and women. They have civilian friends and family who probably know someone to connect you with.

Then, take time to learn new networking etiquette tips and networking skills. You can do this through my e-book Secrets to Networking With Ease (available on Amazon), and also through my on-demand program The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively. If you need more in depth assistance, I offer military discounts on my one-on-one coaching services to those who are active duty.

3. Assess your skills

Take some time to list out all the skills you used in your military service. Then, go back and determine which of those skills could transfer to civilian opportunities. It’s helpful to look at the skill requirements in different job ads to better understand how your skills might transfer.

Then, re-word those skills on your resume using some of the same terminology used in the job ads. You can also look at LinkedIn profiles of other former military personnel to see how they’ve worded their job descriptions. Choosing a one-on-one coaching package can also provide you with personalized assistance in assessing your skills and marketing them to potential employers.

4. Tell your stories

In just about every job interview, you’re going to have to answer behavioral interview questions that begin with “Tell me about a time when…”

It may be difficult to relive some of your experiences from your military service. But, your stories are what make you marketable and unique. You must be able to tell your stories in a way that exhibits the skills you’ve developed while dealing with challenging situations.

To learn the right way to answer behavioral interview questions, see my blog post entitled “The Secret to Answering Behavioral Interview Questions.”

From Deployment to Employment

I’d like to thank all U.S. veterans for their service! I hope you find these suggestions helpful as you make the transition into civilian employment. For additional resources, please check out the info graph below.

civilian

civilian

Sunday Inspiration: Take Action!

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

You cannot keep doing what you’ve always done. Not if you want to get into shape, or get out of debt. Not if you want to recapture the romance, or reach the goal. Not if you want to leave a legacy worth living up to.

And the good news is this: you are only one decision away from a totally different life.

But you’ve got to go for it. Cut up that credit card. Apply for the graduate program. Take the mission trip. Set up the career coaching appointment.

William A. Lawrence wrote, “On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of victory, sat down to wait, and waiting—died!”

Stop being a procrastinator. Stop being a perfectionist. Spiritual growth is about progress, not perfection.

When it comes to going after your goals, your greatest adversary is inertia. We have a tendency to keep doing what we’ve always done, hoping that somehow things will change. They won’t, so take action!

Source: https://www.jentezenfranklin.org/daily-devotions/be-a-shamgar-2

How to Make Smart Investments in Your Life and Career

With the end of another year AND another decade nearing, it’s time to get serious about your life and your career. You don’t have to have a lot of money or even a lot of time to invest in your future. But, you do need to start somewhere. There are several little things you can do to make smart investments in your life and career. These little things will add up. And by the end of the next decade and even the next year, you’ll see a BIG payoff!

Let’s break it down by various areas of your life. We’ll use the seven major areas as outlined in my Goal-Achievement Plan, a free download when you subscribe to my newsletter at www.yourpassioninlife.com. Don’t let all the following suggestions overwhelm you. Instead, just pick one or two to start with. The results you see will motivate you to make the same kind of investment in the other areas of your life. Pretty soon you’ll see an overall improvement in your life and career.

1. Spiritual investments

Getting centered spiritually, regardless of what it looks like for you, is probably the most important investment you can make in your life. Setting aside time at the beginning of each day for small habits such as prayer or meditation, reading, and journaling can get your day started off on the right foot.

Eleven years ago I started getting up an hour early each morning to do just that. I can’t even begin to describe what this has done for me, personally and even professionally. But now I can’t imagine starting my day without it. This habit is truly my daily bread. It’s helped me to make smart decisions in all the other areas of life listed below. The return on my time and emotional investment is priceless.

I encourage you to do the same. If mornings seem impossible for you, then at least commit to this habit every night before bed. Just know though, it will be harder to stay committed once you’re already tired. This is one reason why I recommend doing it in the morning. The other reason is because you’ll have the armor you’ll need to face each day’s challenges with renewed strength.

2. Investments in family

This one is sometimes hard for me to manage since my family is located far away. You may have the same situation too. Taking the time to speak to each other on the phone or via FaceTime on a regular basis (instead of just texting) can strengthen family ties.

When together in person, resist the temptation to play on your phone or on social media, especially during a meal together. Instead, put the phone away and invest your attention in your loved ones. Be fully present with them.

If the phone does come out, let it be to share some recent photos with each other and to take some new photos together, creating new memories to look back on ten years from now. Who knows what new technology will be available in ten years to let us share these photos and take new ones?!

3. Smart investments in your health

If you haven’t heard this yet, health is the new wealth. Being able to enjoy your life ten years from now will depend on your current health habits. Your bank account will also depend on your health. Will you still be able to work ten years from now based on how you’re currently treating your body?

The past ten years I’ve developed new eating and exercise habits. While the addition of these habits to my routine has been incremental, I’ve already experienced numerous benefits. I can’t wait to see how my habits and results improve in the coming years.

In addition to investing time in regular exercise, it’s good to invest a little more money in healthier foods. Although healthier foods still cost more than unhealthy foods, think of the money you’ll save in doctor bills in the future!

You may have seen the story on Facebook about the elderly woman who was able to reverse her dementia by eating foods like blueberries and walnuts. She’s not Super Woman, but what she’s eating are super foods! Super foods are those foods found in nature containing more nutrition than any other foods.

The top ten super foods are avocados, blueberries, broccoli, eggs, garlic, honey, lentils, quinoa, spinach, and walnuts. They’re best for you when eaten with other super foods. Every morning I need 30 grams of protein so I don’t get hungry again too soon. I’m usually able to incorporate three to four super foods in my high-protein breakfast.

In addition, there are several foods that can lower your cholesterol. They include fish, olive oil, whole grains, berries, avocados, beans, nuts, spinach, red wine (in moderation), vegetables, citrus fruits, soy, green and black teas, and (my favorite) dark chocolate. I also get at least four of these in my high-protein breakfast.

Try incorporating some of your own favorite foods from the items above in your diet to go along with some fun form of exercise you enjoy most.

4. Smart investments in your career

Without making the above smart investments in your life, it will be difficult to be successful in your career. Career success also depends on your ability to sharpen and update your current skills while learning new skills. Doing so requires an investment of time, and sometimes money.

If your current employer pays for professional development or continuing education, take advantage of it! But go a step further and seek out additional educational and personal growth opportunities that can prepare you for a promotion or possible future career change. You can find these opportunities in local continuing ed programs and online, most of which are typically very affordable. Having this additional training can give you leverage when starting your own business, asking for a raise, or negotiating a salary offer for a new job.

Speaking of salary negotiations, career success also depends on how well you can negotiate a fair salary. This is something I teach my clients how to do tactfully.

Let’s assume whatever the salary offer is, you’ll get at least the average cost-of-living raise each year, which is typically 2% to 3%. Let’s say you get an initial offer of $80,000 and accept it without countering. Do you realize in five years, you will have lost out on as much as $27,340 in salary increases by not asking for just $5,000 more? (An additional $5,000 is the most you can usually ask for without the hiring manager having to seek additional approval.) Raises compound just like financial investments do!

5. Financially smart investments

If you’re able to negotiate a higher salary, then you’ll have more money to invest now which will grow over time. But financial investments don’t just include putting your money into a 401K or into the stock market. They also include learning how to be more financially responsible. This begins with investing the time to creating a budget, monitoring your spending habits, figuring out necessary spending cuts, saving for an emergency fund, taking the time to pay off debts, adding to your emergency fund, and learning more about smart investing.

This may not sound like fun and may even sound difficult depending on your current financial situation. Taken all together, it does seem overwhelming and impossible. But when you break it down into baby steps as financial expert Dave Ramsey teaches in his book The Total Money Makeover, it not only becomes easy but also motivating!

While I don’t subscribe to everything Ramsey teaches, I will say his baby step method to financial freedom does work! By following this method, I’m on track to have my car paid off a year early. And this feels good! It’s motivated me to set bigger financial goals like contributing more to my mutual fund and IRA and giving more to causes meaningful to me.

You can start small today by making payments on your smallest debt and then using the snowball approach Ramsey teaches to tackling your remaining debt. As a result your debt will be paid off faster than you think!

6. Socially smart investments

Like smart investments in your family, it’s also important to invest in others through your network and your in-real-life social connections.

I’ve written numerous blog posts on the importance of building professional relationships to grow your network. This takes a lot of investment of time and energy. It requires you to be the kind of contact you’d like to have. It also requires you to be realistic about the time it takes to build and nurture these professional relationships. As a career coach, I cannot stress enough the importance of growing your network!

In addition to creating strong ties in your professional network, you want to do the same in your social life. The best way to create and foster new social connections is by getting involved in activities and causes you’re drawn to. This includes getting involved with a group interested in the same form of exercise you enjoy, volunteering with others for a cause you find meaningful, or joining a small group in your church. These are just a few examples, but they do help you find your “tribe” so to speak.

I’ve personally made friends with people just from my passion of stand-up paddle boarding, my participation in a weekly dinner with my small group, and from volunteering alongside people I otherwise would’ve never met. What are some things you can get involved in to meet and bond with new people?

7. Investments in personal growth and education

Similar to professional development that sharpens your career skills, it’s important for your personal development to invest in some lifelong learning on topics outside your career. Investing in classes on a subject just to learn more about it or to improve your knowledge can have a great return on investment! In addition to increasing your knowledge on a new subject, it can exercise your brain and reduce your risk of age-related diseases. It can also expand your network and your social circle. It can even help you discover a side gig or another revenue stream!

I’m always trying to learn new things and improve on the things I already know. For instance, last year I took a paddle clinic from former canoeing Olympian and QuickBlade owner Jim Terrell to improve my stand-up paddling skills. I’ve also taken classes on topics like financial success, self-defense, small business marketing, and much more.

As stated earlier, many of these courses are offered through continuing education programs and are usually very affordable. I encourage you to check out the Nashville Community Education Commission to see what classes they have you might be interested or curious in. This is a really fun way to invest your time and money to better your life and your career!

Related posts:

smart investments

Did You Get Ghosted After Your Interview? What to Do Now (re-post)

This is a re-post of a previous blog of mine on the topic of interview ghosting. The post has gone viral on Medium, and I was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal about the same topic this past summer. Since tomorrow is Halloween, I thought it would be appropriate to share it again, especially since so many job candidates experience this phenomenon!

Have you ever been ghosted? You know what I’m talking about, when someone unexpectedly ceases all communication with you with no explanation. It’s almost like they dropped off the face of the earth.

This phenomenon typically happens in personal relationships such as romantic liaisons or fledgling friendships.

But it now also exists in working relationships, including the job search. While it’s extremely unprofessional, it does happen.

Job interview ghosting

Most of the time it happens following an interview process. A candidate spends time going through a cumbersome online application process, researching the company, preparing for the interview, traveling to the interview, and sweating through the interview.

The candidate is told at the end of the interview they’ll hear something soon. Then they hear nothing but crickets.

They follow up first with a thank you letter like every good candidate should after an interview.

Still nothing but crickets.

The next week they email to find out if a decision has been made.

Still more crickets.

Another week later they call, only for that call to go unanswered.

This has probably happened to you at one point in your career or another.

It’s happened to me before too, both after a job interview and with a couple of potential clients.

There’s no way to know the reason for the ghosting. All you can do is follow up one more time and then move on.

Console yourself by realizing you probably dodged a bullet since you likely wouldn’t want to work for someone who treats people this way.

What to do next time: a preemptive strike against ghosting

In your next interview, there are some things you can do to try to protect yourself from ghosting, or at least reduce the chances of being ghosted.

This begins in the very first interview. When it’s your turn to ask questions, one of your questions should be about the timeline for the hiring process.

You want to be as specific as possible in your question in order to receive a specific answer. For instance, instead of asking “When do you plan to conduct second-round interviews?” you should ask,

“What is your deadline for scheduling second-round interviews?”

“Is that deadline firm?” and

“Are you going to let those who didn’t make it to the second round know they won’t be moving forward?”

In the final round of interviews, instead of asking “When do you plan to make a hiring decision?” you should ask,

“What is your deadline for making an offer?”

“How firm is that deadline?” and

“Are you  going to notify each person being interviewed of the final decision as a courtesy or just the person receiving the offer?”

These questions are for your own sanity so you can know what to expect and so you’re not sitting around wondering why you haven’t heard anything back.

Click here to find out what other questions you should ask in an interview.

Know when to move on

Keep in mind however that sometimes companies tend to underestimate how long the interview process might take them. Or, deadlines might get pushed back due to other priorities in the company.

Continue to follow up 1–2 weeks after their original deadline.

If after that you still haven’t heard anything, assume they either hired someone else or put a freeze on the hiring process. 

Then move on.

And try not to take it personally so you can maintain your confidence. You have to keep your confidence in tact as best you can for your next interview.

Other things you can do

There are several other things you can do to reduce your chances of being ghosted.

First, avoid doing the things that irritate hiring managers and recruiters. For instance, don’t be late for your interview and don’t be dishonest in your answers or give canned answers.

More importantly, don’t interview for a job you don’t intend to take just to get interview practice. This is unethical and word could easily get around in your industry about you doing such a thing.

Also, indicate at the end of the interview you want the job. So many people fail to say they want the job. Those who do increase their chances of getting the call with the offer.

Next, send a thank you letter to each person you interviewed with, reiterating your interest and what you have to offer the company.

Finally, even if you’ve been ghosted by a company, don’t do the same thing to another company. Just because unemployment is at an all-time low and you may have your pick of offers, this doesn’t give you an excuse to ghost recruiters or hiring managers.

Conclusion

While you can’t completely prevent a company from ghosting you after your interview, using some of the strategies above can help reduce your chances of it happening.

Related posts:

ghosting

Sunday Inspiration: A Balanced Approach to Setting Goals

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

Question: “What does the Bible say about setting goals?”

Answer: The Bible offers a balanced approach to setting goals that includes making plans yet doing so with wisdom and humility. Jesus’ illustration of building a tower implies that it is a good thing to have set goals (Luke 14:28).

To live with no motivation or planning is not God’s desire. Proverbs 6:6-11 says,

“Go to the ant, O sluggard;
    consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
    officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
    and gathers her food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
    When will you arise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
    and want like an armed man.”

Laziness causes a person to neglect work and fail to exploit the window of opportunity. Summer is the preparation time for winter, and we dare not wile it away. Failure to plan ahead will result in “poverty” and “want.”

Wisely setting goals leads to better results: “The plans of the diligent lead to profit” (Proverbs 21:5).

However, just because we’ve done our planning doesn’t guarantee our goals will be met. The process of setting goals must be infused with humility. James teaches,

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13-14).

The Bible teaches against two extremes: never setting goals and setting goals with no thought of God. The balanced alternative is found in James 4:15: “Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” It is good to make plans, as long as we leave room for God to change our plans. His goals take precedence over ours.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” In other words, we have our ideas and make our plans, but God will ultimately accomplish His sovereign desires. Do our goals make room for the unexpected? Do we love God’s will more than our own?

Finally, we can take comfort in the words of Jesus: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Matthew 6:33-34). Our goal-setting need not be accompanied by fear. If our plans focus on Christ and honor Him, He will see to it that the best results—the eternal results—are ours.

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/setting-goals.html