Category: Career Change/Career Transition


How to Go From Veteran 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. veteran men and women making the transition from the military to a civilian job. I salute them for their service in celebration of Veterans Day today!

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, and 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.

A veteran transitions 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.

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 from veteran to civilian employee

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 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 job.

2. Build a civilian network

Next, build a civilian network by starting with the people you already know, including fellow veterans and active 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 transitioning out of 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 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 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.

How to Best Search For a Job When Relocating

One of my good friends has relocated to where she’s dreamed of living for over a year now. This past summer, she hired me to help her with the process of relocating and finding a job in another state.

When we first started working toward her goal, she was still employed here in Nashville. Therefore, she wanted to keep her search on the down-low. A few weeks later, she was laid off from her job here due to COVID. At this point, she knew she had nothing holding her back. Now was the time to go for it full force.

She started planning her move, with or without a job lined up. Of course, she had hopes of landing a job there before her move, but she knew she could either spend her time here looking for a job, or spend it looking for a job there, where she really wanted to be. For her, it was a no-brainer!

She gave herself an expiration date for her time here in Nashville, and started securing temporary housing in her new home state for mid-October. She figured she could continue her job search and look for more permanent housing once she was there, knowing she’d likely have more success being on location.

From the beginning, she did everything right when it comes to networking. She also followed the advice I gave on her resume, which her new networking contacts told her was awesome! They assured her, with a resume like hers, she’d have no problems landing a job in her chosen field of human resources.

And guess what? One week before she left Nashville, she received an offer for a job starting a week after her arrival date. Not only that, the offer was for $10,000 more in salary than what she anticipated!

7 job search tips when relocating

If you’re also looking to relocate, you’ll want to follow these same tips I shared with my good friend so you too can be successful.

1. Include your plans on your resume

Don’t rely on sharing your intentions of relocating only in your cover letter. Many recruiters don’t take the time to read your letter. Instead, make it clear at the top of your resume you’re serious about relocating to the area.

Do this by simply including the line, “Relocating to [insert preferred location]”. If you’re returning to a specific city or state, word it as, “Returning to [insert preferred location]”. This shows you already have ties to the area, and are probably more serious about relocating.

You also probably want to leave your mailing address off your resume. This is because some recruiters will make decisions just from the contact info on your resume. If they see a resume with an out-of-state address or phone number, they sometimes move on to the next candidate. Often the reason is because they know the company wants to avoid paying moving expenses.

Also, it’s no longer necessary to have your mailing address on your resume since most employers communicate via email or phone.

2. Get a phone number with a local area code

Speaking of communicating by phone, what if your area code is an out-of-state area code?

You don’t have to worry about your phone number like you do your mailing address. This is because recruiters know so many people keep their cell phone numbers for a long time, even when they move.

But, if you want to show you’re local or soon-to-be local, you can always create a Google voice phone number for free, using the area code of your place of relocation. Plus, it allows you to keep your messages from recruiters in a separate voicemail box from your personal voicemail.

3. Utilize LinkedIn

As you get closer to your move, you may want to consider changing your location on your LinkedIn profile to where you’re planning to relocate.

Also, search LinkedIn’s groups to see if there are any groups dedicated to people moving to your chosen destination. For example, there’s a “Moving to Australia” group, and a group called, “Moving to Nashville: A Relocation and Mobility Group.”

Join these groups and read the content posted in them. You’ll find several useful tips. If you can’t find the info you’re looking for, use this group as a place to ask for the information you need.

4. Do a cost of living comparison

One of the best resources I used when relocating to Nashville is a site called bestplaces.net. It helped me figure out cost of living comparisons. Also, it helped me calculate how much salary I should negotiate in my next job, based on Nashville’s cost of living.

The site includes a list of the best places to live, along with a quiz to help you determine which place is best for your personal preferences. I recommend this site to every client who’s looking to relocate.

5. Utilize the Chamber of Commerce

I often get the question, “Which job boards do you recommend?”

Well, most of the popular job boards have saturated candidate pools, and it’s hard to find on them the jobs you’re really interested. Instead, I recommend better alternatives.

This includes a city’s Chamber of Commerce site. These sites will often have a job board of their own, much like the one on Nashville’s Chamber of Commerce site.

6. Be open to different industries

If you have to limit your job search to only one geographic area and only one job function, increase your opportunities by being open to different industries.

For example, if your past experience has been accounting in the healthcare industry, consider accounting in the technology industry. Focus your search on the biggest industries in your chosen destination.

7. Visit before you move

Finally, always visit the city you’re wanting to relocate to. Plan an extended stay to learn your way around town, visit with some of the people you’ve met on LinkedIn, and check out the different neighborhoods, schools, churches and parks.

If possible, you should also take another visit during the worst time of year weather-wise, so you can know what to expect.

Conclusion

Relocating and looking for a job in another state, or even another country, can be confusing and overwhelming. If you need assistance, click here to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.

paNASH was recently voted as one of the top coaches in Nashville by Expertise.com for the fourth year in a row!

Related posts

What Happens When a Pandemic Disrupts Your Career?

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about the importance of having a back-up plan if something disrupts your career. I shared about a past client of mine who was a recording artist with a unique story. His former career as a high school social studies teacher was disrupted by stardom in the music industry.

I’ve been thinking a lot about him lately, especially how the pandemic has disrupted his and other performing artists’ careers. But even if he can’t work right now due to COVID restrictions on live performances, I know he’ll be okay. Why? Because he had a plan B, which most recording artists don’t have.

What about you? Do you have a plan B if some event disrupts your current career? It’s a question you need to consider. As a result, I’m re-sharing my post from a couple of years ago to help you start thinking about a plan B (or C, or D) for your career.

My client’s story (originally published August 29, 2018)

It was 2011 and I was waiting for my new client in his publicist’s conference room. We were beginning the process of preparing him for his upcoming radio interviews.

In our first session he told me his life story, how he got to where he was, and what his future looked like. He was different from most of the other recording artists I’d worked with. His values and priorities were on a whole other level.

What was typical

He told me about how he grew up poor with humble beginnings, and how he’d always been passionate about music, with goals to pursue it as a career. Not an uncommon story among most musicians who eventually make their way to Nashville.

He was the first person in his family to finish not just college, but also high school. This inspired him to become a high school social studies teacher, something else he was very passionate about.

After college, he pursued teaching to support his music career goals. He did both until he couldn’t any longer.

His music caught on like wildfire. In fact, he was getting so many bookings and selling out so many venues, his music career completely disrupted his teaching career. He had to leave his students to fulfill his new obligations to his fans.

Again, this is not an unusual story or scenario for most recording artists as they begin their careers. Most start off doing something else to make a living until they’re able to afford to pursue music full-time.

What was different

But here’s where it gets different with this particular artist:  he said to me,

“When this whole music thing dries up, which it probably will eventually, my plan is to go back to teaching social studies.”

I had never heard a recording artist talk like this. Most get so caught up in their rise to fame and fortune they think it will never come to an end. They don’t think long-term.

In fact, most of them believe, and are also told by numerous music industry executives, if you truly want to make it in the music business you can’t have a Plan B.

The music executives’ theory is, if you have a Plan B, you’ll never be fully motivated to pursue the Plan A of a music career. They believe you’ll give up too soon and default to your Plan B before Plan A gets off the ground.

This client was the only artist I knew who didn’t fall for this mindset. He strongly disagreed and felt it was totally irresponsible not to have a Plan B. Like everything else, he knew Plan A will eventually come to an end.

He also told me something else I’ll never forget. In describing a recently sold-out show, one where Brantley Gilbert and the Zac Brown Band were opening for him, he said to me,

“To this day, there’s not been one stage I’ve walked onto that didn’t beat the feeling I got the first day I walked into a classroom.”

Talk about a mic drop!

Whether he realizes it or not, this musician is still teaching others in his role as an artist. There are so many lessons from this interaction and his statements I almost don’t know where to begin.

But let’s try to unpack as much as we can here.

1. It can’t be all about the money

It’s obvious he wasn’t doing any of this for the money. Everyone knows there’s very little money in education. And for someone willing to go back to education after a more lucrative career in music shows money isn’t a top priority.

As a career coach specializing in helping people pursue their passions, I can tell you if you’re pursuing something only for money with no passion behind it, it’s likely to fail. All the experts will tell you this. This includes business experts, successful entrepreneurs, other career coaches, and the ones who learned this lesson the hard way.

And not only is it likely to fail, you’re also likely to be miserable. If you’re not passionate about what you do and you find no meaning in it besides earning a paycheck, you’re likely to dread going to work everyday. This will wear on you over time.

2. You have to think long-term

Nothing lasts forever. You could be laid off tomorrow from your current job. Your business idea could take off like a rocket and then just as quickly crash and burn. My former client’s bookings could easily dry up since music fans’ tastes are fickle.

So then what?

While it’s important to learn to live in the moment, there needs to be a balance between living in the moment and considering the future.

One of the things I work with my coaching clients on is establishing long-term goals and helping them figure out how their passions can evolve with those goals.

Sometimes this requires re-evaluating and altering their short-term goals. And sometimes it may require them to alter their long-term goals.

3. It’s not a bad idea to have a back-up plan

As a result, you may need a Plan B to your Plan A, or even a Plan C to your Plan B.

These plans don’t have to be completely different from each other like they were for my former client. They could be something in the same industry but in a different role or function. Or something in the same role but in a different industry.

Back-up plans can be a great solution when you’re feeling stuck in your current career situation. I’ve helped many clients brainstorm and test potential back-up plans which eventually got them unstuck.

Do you see any other lessons here I missed? (If so, please comment below!)

What if something disrupts your career?

My former client had two very different careers he was equally passionate about. One disrupted the other much more quickly than he expected. And it could happen again some day. This happens to almost all of us, including myself.

What will you do if something disrupts your career? What will happen if you don’t have a Plan B to fall back on?

If you don’t have an answer to these questions, it may be time to consider the lessons outlined above, or even some career coaching for yourself. 

To find out if career coaching is your next best step, click here and complete the paNASH intake form. Completing the form does not obligate you in any way.

Resources for when something disrupts your career

paNASH Adds New Career Coach and More Services

Press release – new career coach and more services

New career coach – Dr. Denisha S. Bonds

paNASH LLC is excited to announce the addition of career coach Dr. Denisha S. Bonds. Dr. Bonds combines creativity and expertise to help clients design the careers of their dreams. She sees career development as a strategic two-step process:  identifying compatible career options for the client, and helping the client develop the tools necessary to successfully follow his or her unique path.

Dr. Bonds adds an additional 30 years of experience to paNASH owner Lori Bumgarner’s 20 years of experience, for a combined 50 years of career coaching experience. In fact, Bonds and Bumgarner previously worked together in North Carolina in the field of higher education as college career advisers from 2002 to 2006.

“I’m so excited to have Denisha come on board and to work with her again! Even after I left North Carolina for Nashville, she and I continued to support one another over the years as we each developed our own niches in the career coaching industry. With everything currently happening in the job market, it’s the perfect time for paNASH to add her as a coach and expand our services,” commented Bumgarner.

More career coaching services

Dr. Bonds brings an expertise that enhances and complements paNASH’s career coaching services. In addition to paNASH’s current offerings of…

  • Exploration and discovery of passion and purpose
  • Personal and professional branding
  • Out-of-the-box job search and networking strategies for mid-career professionals
  • Interview coaching and salary negotiation
  • Guidance for career advancement and promotion
  • Freelance and business start-up guidance
  • Online job search courses
  • Support for clients who are new to Nashville

…Dr. Bonds will provide:

  • Professionally-written résumés and cover letters
  • Creative résumé design
  • LinkedIn profile customization and optimization
  • Out-of-the-box job search and networking strategies for recent grads and new professionals
  • Administration and interpretation of select career assessments
  • Support for clients making the transition from college to the real world

“When Lori approached me about joining paNASH, I was thrilled. She has built an impressive coaching business that has had a positive impact on her clients. I am honored to become part of the work she is doing in the career services arena. Working with her again is such a pleasure!” said Bonds.

Dr. Bonds holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education; a Master of Science in Higher Education, Student Affairs, and Career Development; and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. She is also a certified professional résumé writer and a nationally certified LinkedIn strategist.

About paNASH

paNASH LLC is a career coaching service that’s been ranked in the Top Ten Best Coaches in Nashville by Expertise.com for four consecutive years. Its mission is to serve, educate, and encourage people, both in Nashville and across the country, by assisting them with the discovery and pursuit of their passions in a way that honors their purpose and their own vision for success, while amplifying who they are personally and advancing them professionally.

Click here to book a complimentary initial consultation with a paNASH career coach.

How to Protect Your Career While Homeschooling

If you’re a working parent, you may have had to temporarily quit your job to start homeschooling your children due to COVID-19. This unexpected career disruption could have long-term negative effects on the remainder of your career. Especially if you had to leave your job completely with no options to return.

It’s always been difficult for parents to return to the workforce after having stayed home to raise their children. While this current period of homeschooling hopefully won’t last more than one semester, you may face some of the same challenges other parents have faced after being out of the workforce for an extended period of time.

But there are some things you can do now to reduce the negative impact of this disruption on your career. Things that will build your resume and keep you marketable, even during this time away from your career.

4 ways to protect your career while homeschooling

1. Document the skills you’re developing

Pay attention to the skills you’re learning in this new homeschooling job you have. There are probably more than you realize. But if you start paying attention, you’ll see you’re developing not just new computer tech skills, but also many soft skills employers look for in candidates.

These soft skills include:

  • Patience
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Time management
  • Organization
  • Empathy
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Problem solving
  • Creativity
  • Stress management
  • Persuasion
  • Active listening

…and so much more!

2. Add your homeschooling experience to your resume

Add the computer skills and soft skills you’re learning to the skills section of your resume. Then, go a step further and add your homeschooling to your experience section of your resume. By doing so, it will explain to the reader two things:

  • Why you left your previous job…
  • …and why you have a gap in your traditional employment history.

3. Share it on LinkedIn

Don’t just stop with your resume. You’ll also want to add this information to your LinkedIn profile.

Then, make sure your LinkedIn network is aware of these skills you’re developing. To do this, you have to do more than just add it to your LinkedIn profile. You also have to share your experience and lessons about it in your LinkedIn groups and newsfeed.

Share posts on LinkedIn about the lessons you’re learning by homeschooling your children, your take-aways from the experience, and the best practices you’ve come up with. Not only does this show ingenuity and initiative to potential employers, it also makes you a helpful resource for industry colleagues who are going through the same thing. People will remember you for this, which will come in handy for when you’re looking to return to the workforce.

4. Write about your homeschooling experience

If you enjoy writing, you can take your posts on LinkedIn and develop them into full-blown articles. You can either write articles directly on LinkedIn, or in a blog, or both!

When doing so, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and talk about how hard the adjustment has been for you. This vulnerability is what will draw readers to your writing. It’s okay to be vulnerable, even if future employers see it. This shows them you’re authentic.

But also talk about how you’ve found ways to deal with or overcome the obstacles you’re facing in these unprecedented times. This shows readers, including potential employers, your resilience.

Conclusion

If you need help with your resume or LinkedIn profile so they will be ready when it’s time to start looking for work again, paNASH can help! Click here to fill out the paNASH intake form and schedule an initial consultation.

Don’t wait to get started. The average job search takes three to nine months, even in a good job market. If your goal is to be back at work as soon as you can stop homeschooling, now is the time to start working toward this goal!

Click here for more posts to help you manage the impact of COVID-19 on your career.