Category: Career Growth & Advancement


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.

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.

A Summer Reading List That Will Boost Your Career

So summer 2020 didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped it would. You’re probably not getting to take your annual vacation due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Therefore, you have even more time for summer reading this year.

So what should you spend your quarantine time reading? You should always have a healthy mix of fun fiction, but also some books that will help you learn and grow as a person and as a professional.

Lori’s summer reading recommendations

I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of books already this spring and summer. Most of which I’ve checked out electronically from my local library while they were closed for COVID. And now the library is offering curbside pick-up of physical books, so I’m reading even more.

Below is a list of the ones I recommend to help you boost your career and grow you professionally, so you can be ready for whatever comes next in your career during these uncertain times.

(Please note: I do not receive any financial gain for recommending or endorsing the following books.)

Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude

By Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin.

While you may be completely bored with all the solitude and isolation you’ve had the past several months, there’s a lot of good that comes from times of solitude, when it’s time spent well.

While this book focuses on how leaders have used solitude to become even more effective, it’s not just for leaders. It shows how the practice of solitude can give you clarity to solve complex problems you may face, both in life and in your work.

I love the examples the authors share of the struggles of beloved historical figures. People like Martin Luther King, Jr., Jane Goodall, Winston Churchill, and Abraham Lincoln. This is a great read, especially if you’re a fan of military history, or history in general.

After you read it, you’ll be motivated to put your phone a way and turn off Netflix, to see what kind of solutions to your problems you’re able to come up with.

Wisdom @ Work: The Making of a Modern Elder

By Chip Conley.

A client of mine told me about this book, so I checked it out. It’s great for mid-career folks who work in a company or industry with multi-generational employees (which most people do!).

The book shares the secret to thriving as a mid-life worker, which it describes as, “…learning to marry wisdom and experience with curiosity, a beginner’s mind, and a willingness to evolve.” It confirms how older generations still bring value to the table, especially in the role of a mentor. But it also reminds the older workforce they still have a lot to learn from the knowledge and skillset of the younger generations.

All generations are relevant and valued, and they need each other to create success. This book explores the issues of ageism and age diversity in today’s workforce.

If you’ve been forced to make a mid-career change due to the economic impact of COVID, and now find yourself struggling to compete with younger candidates, this book will help you write the next chapter of your career.

Halftime: Moving From Success to Significance

By Bob Buford.

Speaking of mid-career, here’s another great resource for mid-lifers, or for anyone who cares more about making a difference and an impact with their work, than just making a fortune.

This book focuses on how to multiply the skills and gifts you’ve been given, and in the process, give back to the world in significant ways.

And I love the questions it asks at the end of each chapter. They’re great for personal reflection or for group discussions. It even includes assignments to help guide you into the next phase of your career.

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

By Chris Guillebeau.

I always like to include one or two books on entrepreneurship, for anyone who’s thinking of leaving corporate to start their own thing. These kind of books were helpful for me when I started my own business, but there were a lot of them out there, so it was hard to know which ones to read.

I wouldn’t say The $100 Startup is as good as Pat Flynn’s Will It Fly, which I reviewed in a previous post. But, it is different because it provides numerous examples of other people who’ve started their own businesses.

These examples include every day people, with no entrepreneurial skills, who discovered how to monetize aspects of their personal passions. This allowed them to restructure their lives and careers, in ways that gave them more fulfillment and freedom.

Their stories are super inspiring, and they provide enough detail to give you ideas of how you can accomplish what they’ve accomplished.

Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again

By Dr. Henry Cloud.

Have you struggled for success in your life and in your work, but always seem to fall short? Do self-defeating patterns keep you stuck where you are, personally and professionally? Then you’ll definitely want to read Never Go Back, by bestselling author Dr. Henry Cloud.

In this book, Cloud outlines 10 bad habits successful people have learned never to return to. They’ve become successful, largely in part by not making these common mistakes again. You can do the same, and Cloud shows you how.

I encourage you to at least read the preface and the introduction of this book before passing it over. I firmly believe this book can boost all areas of your life.

Lori’s summer reading list

In addition to the fun books I’ve been reading, I have plans this summer to read books my clients may also find helpful. This includes:

  • Escape From Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur, by Pamela Slim, who also wrote a book I highly recommend, called Body of Work
  • Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction, by Matthew Kelly
  • The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day With Passion and Purpose, also by Matthew Kelly
  • Powershift: Transform Any Situation, Close Any Deal, and Achieve Any Outcome, by Shark Tank’s Daymond John

I also invite you to check out my own books and e-books I’ve published, available on Amazon, in paperback and on Kindle. And feel free to share your book recommendations in the comment box. I’m always looking for good books to read!

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How to Know If It’s Time for a Career Change

It felt so good this past Saturday to eat in a restaurant again after two months of quarantine. To sit down at a table, face-to-face with a friend not contained inside a square on my computer screen. To have someone else cook for me, wait on me, and clean up after me. I made sure to leave a generous tip for the waitstaff who’ve gone two months with no pay.

The restaurant was only at 50% capacity, so it wasn’t a full move back to the old normal. But it was a nice change from the new normal of shelter-at-home life.

However, in experiencing a return of some freedom, I still sensed some fear and hesitation in the air. Any kind of change can cause feelings of fear and hesitation. This is true for career change.

But change can also be good, even in the most uncertain of times. This is also true for career change. I know this from personal experience when I left my full-time job with benefits to start my own business in 2008, right around the time of a recession.

Some people may think this is not the time to make a career change. They assume if they still have a job in the midst of everything happening, they should hold onto it. This may be true.

Or it may not. Instead it may actually be the best time to consider a career change. This could include changing jobs within your industry, changing industries all together, or starting your own thing. Let’s explore which is true for you.

Is it a good time for a career change for you?

A career change within your industry

Are you currently in an industry that’s booming due to the current state of the world? For instance, are you currently in healthcare? Or are you in an industry that manufactures, markets, or sells high-demand products like cleaning agents? In other words, does your industry meet a need now, and will it likely continue to meet a need once things settle down?

If this is the case, you probably want to stay within your industry but do something different. This could mean making a lateral move to a different department, or advancing to a higher level in your current area. It could mean shifting from one function to another, like moving from HR to management, sales to market research, or vice versa.

Make a list of the results you’ve accomplished in your current role for the company. Use this as leverage to help you advance, or to show how your skills can bring new perspective to another area of the company. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with your supervisor and with other department heads about your desire to continue contributing to the company in other ways.

A career change to another industry

Perhaps you’re in an industry that’s struggling right now. But you have the transferable skills to change to an industry in need of more employees due to the current crisis. For instance, you may currently be in HR in the travel and hospitality industry. But, your skills may be more needed in the HR department of a grocery store chain.

Start doing as much research as you can about the industries you’re interested in. Make a list of your transferable skills and add them to your resume and LinkedIn profile. Start connecting with people in those industries via LinkedIn, email, and phone.

Starting your own thing

Perhaps you’ve been thinking for a while about starting your own thing. Could now be the time to do so? Maybe, especially if you’ve been laid off due to COVID and can’t seem to find another job working for someone else. Or you may have some extra time on your hands because you’re currently working from home.

Spend your extra time writing down your skills, along with some current needs you’re noticing. Look to see how your skills match up with the needs. Then brainstorm some ways you can deliver a solution to those needs. You may also want to use your time to read the book, Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time or Money, by Pat Flynn.

Conclusion

Don’t let the current market make you fearful or hesitant when considering a career change. And don’t let bad news or ominous predictions keep you stuck where you are. Instead, pay attention to the needs around you. Then, ask yourself how and where your skills and talents fulfill those needs.

This process may not be easy to do on your own, but paNASH can help! Get started by completing the paNASH intake form to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.

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Your Job Provides You Security. Until It Doesn’t. Then What?

Depending on what industry you’re in, your job security may feel a little shaky right now due to COVID-19.

Even if you haven’t lost your job because of the economic impact caused by the coronavirus, or even if you’re able to return to work soon, you may feel less sure of your future career than ever before.

No one could’ve predicted six months ago the situation we’re currently experiencing world-wide.

This is why there really is no such thing as job security. Stuff happens.

The only constant is, business will always be business. Companies will always do what they have to do to keep afloat for as long as possible. Which often means downsizing.

This is why it’s important to invest in what I call “career insurance.”

What is career insurance?

Career insurance is basically another term for comprehensive career coaching. It’s designed to prepare you for any event that may arise in your career.

This includes the expected, like a promotion, voluntary job or career change, or starting your own business. It also includes the unexpected, like a layoff or a loss of business.

Think you don’t need career insurance?  Let me share a few stories with you.

The unexpected layoff

I’m often hired by companies to provide career coaching and outplacement counseling for the employees they have to lay off.

This service isn’t something all companies provide their pink slip employees. So don’t assume your company will do the same for you if you get laid off.

If they do, take advantage of it!!! It’s on the company’s dime and it can help you find your next opportunity much faster than trying to do it all on your own.

Many of the laid off employees I’ve worked with in this capacity were taken by surprise by the company’s decision.

Several have said to me, “I always thought I’d retire at this company. I love my job and the people I work with. And I had no intentions of ever leaving and never thought I would get downsized.”

Lesson #1:  Never assume you’re not at risk of losing your job. Even if your company is in a growing industry and promises to be loyal to you. Business is business and things change. If your company doesn’t provide you any outplacement services, you may want to invest some severance money into career coaching. This is so you can find your next opportunity quicker, and learn how to negotiate a higher salary. Learning such skills will pay for any coaching expenses, and then some.

The need for a change

Teresa* hired me for some career coaching services because she was very unhappy in the job she was in.

She wanted to look for something new, and also explore the possibility of being her own boss. So I got to work on helping her meet these goals.

After only three coaching sessions, Teresa found out her job was being eliminated.

When she got the news, she felt a sense of relief she’d already paid for a career coach and had begun the steps to a successful job search, making the news less of a blow.

She knew our sessions would help put her in the best possible position to find her next opportunity more quickly. She also knew the coaching would help position her for promotion the following year.

Lesson #2:  It’s better to already have some career insurance in place, if and when an issue arises, than to not have it and wish you did. Especially if you don’t receive a good severance package.

Prepare for the worst, and the best

I started working with Shane* at the beginning of the season. He chose my basic package of just a few sessions which we completed several weeks later. When I received an update from him, this is what he had to say:

“All of my worlds have been colliding since our last session, and I’ve only been able to handle it because of the great place we got to with our sessions. So thank you. I just had my interview for my promotion that was in the works earlier this season. Whatever shakes out, the confidence and clarity I gained from our sessions made the interview process really rewarding.”

Lesson #3:  Career coaching isn’t just for leaving your company. If you like where you work, coaching services can help you advance in your company if this is your goal. It can also prepare you for any career curve ball (good or bad) that may come your way.

How to increase your job security

While you have no control over the current pandemic or your company’s response to it, you do have control over your own career strategy.

paNASH’s career coaching services help you develop a strategy to leverage your skills and market them for new opportunities, providing career insurance and improved security no matter what happens with your career.

Is it time for you to invest in some career insurance? If not now, when?

Don’t wait until your current job security is gone. Click here to get started.

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*Names have been changed for confidentiality purposes. Click here to see client-submitted Google reviews.