Tag: career transition


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.

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How to Know if Your Burnout Is Killing You

For the past week and a half, the words “rest” and “burnout” keep coming up. Every conversation I’ve had this week has included the discussion of burnout and the need for rest from it. And just about every article I’ve read has mentioned the importance of rest and avoiding burnout.

Perhaps this theme is circulating because it’s now summer time (my favorite season!). Summer is typically thought of as a season of down time and rest.

But perhaps it’s circulating because so many of us have been working so hard we’re starting to experience the effects of burnout.

I have several new clients coming to me because they’re experiencing burnout in their current jobs and recognize a need for a change. I also can easily experience burnout if I don’t take time to rest.

And just last month, the World Health Organization redefined burnout as an actual syndrome linked to unmanageable chronic workplace stress. There’s been a lot of buzz about this new medical classification of burnout since it was announced. Perhaps this is also the reason the topic of rest keeps coming up.

Hidden Signs of Burnout You Shouldn’t Ignore

The syndrome for burnout includes several physical, emotional, and cognitive warning signs:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feeling like you’re constantly failing
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Re-upping a bad habit (i.e. if you previously quit smoking but started up again due to the stress from your job)
  • Dizziness and headaches

Do any of these things describe how you’ve been feeling lately? If so, first, do what you can to find the time needed to get some rest! Second, you might need to consult a physician. Then, you might want to consult a career coach to help you make some changes either in your current job or to a new job.

Quote: “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.” Unknown

Burnout is Toxic

In fact, if you want to live longer, a recent article says one of the 30 things you can do to live longer is to establish more balanced work hours.

The article criticizes the fact that our current work culture has made it acceptable to work over 40 hours a week, to work through lunch and breaks, and to come in early and leave late.

Another article states if management has little or no concern for work-life balance on a daily basis, this is one of  eight signs your workplace is extremely toxic.

This means you feel like you have to sacrifice your personal life and family for your job on a regular basis. Which is evidenced by more hours per week, little to no vacation time, and 24/7 availability for work communication.

How to Reduce Burnout by Making Good Decisions

This lack of balance has become our “new normal,” and it needs to return to the “old normal” if we want to be productive both in our jobs and our personal lives.

Of course this is easier said than done. It will require a culture shift in the world of work. While the shift has begun, it still has a long way to go before the pendulum will swing back to what’s considered realistic.

But there are things you can do as an individual to start making this shift in your own personal and professional life.

This includes learning how to negotiate win-win scenarios with your current supervisor when asked to take on additional responsibilities. This is something I help several of my clients with. In fact, I’m currently working with a client on this very thing.

It also includes learning to make good decisions when seeking new opportunities. Always choose those opportunities that support your personal mission statement and turn down those that don’t.

Think about what you value above a just the monetary return on an opportunity.

Quote: “There are four types of wealth:

  1. Financial wealth (money)
  2. Social wealth (status)
  3. Time wealth (freedom)
  4. Physical wealth (health)

Be wary of jobs that lure you in with 1 and 2, but rob you of 3 and 4.” @entrepreneursquote

It’s Okay to Rest and Do Nothing

It’s okay and necessary to do what it takes to recover from your burnout. This means getting the rest you need, and also spending some time just doing nothing.

If you’re like me, it’s hard to just do nothing. But The New York Times published an article by Bonnie Tsui which assures us we’re doing something important when we aren’t doing anything at all. Tsui says,

“We need to rest, read, and reconnect. It is the invisible labor that makes creative life possible.”

I had the opportunity to do so a week and a half ago. Every summer I take a weekend to myself to drive up to Kentucky to the Abbey of Gethsemani for a silent retreat. I spend a weekend in silence reflecting on the first half of the year, reading, and thinking about how to be more intentional in the remaining half of the year.

It is so tranquil and renewing to my mind and soul. I always come back rested and refreshed. (Click here to read more about what a silent retreat looks like and how to sign up for one yourself).

Since tomorrow is a holiday (and not a stressful one like the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays), I encourage you to spend this holiday and this weekend getting some quiet time and some rest, both alone and with your family.

Doing so will give you the clarity and energy you need to make some necessary changes moving forward in your career. Whether it’s learning to manage your manager, carving out some work-life balance, or making a career change to something healthier. Let me know how I can help!

Related Posts:

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How to Tell If a Company Is a Good Fit for You

You know your current job is not a good fit for you. You feel stuck, so you went looking for something else.

After sending out countless resumes and enduring grueling interviews you now have an offer on the table for a new job with a different company.

You have a pen in hand ready to sign the offer letter.

STOP!

Don’t sign it yet!

At least not until you know the company is a good fit for you. First ask yourself the following questions.

“Good Fit” Questions to Ask Yourself

Do my personal values match up with the company’s core values?

By now you’re probably already familiar with the company’s core values. Especially after having researched the company in preparation for your interview.

But are you 100% clear on your own values? If not, you’ll want to spend some time in reflection on what’s most important to you in your life.

Sub-questions of “Do my personal values match with the company’s core values?”

If you are clear on your own values, do they match up with the company’s core values?

Or are you just so ready to get out of your current job you didn’t even consider this?

Or do you think it’s not really a big deal if there’s no real alignment in values?

If you’re so ready to jump ship from you’re current job you’re willing to overlook incompatible values, you’ll likely find yourself feeling stuck in your new job. Do you really want to go through another job search again next year?

Also, what may not seem like a big deal now, will soon become a real issue. An example to illustrate this is in marriage. When you’re in love and excited about getting married, opposing mindsets on things like money and child-rearing may not seem like a real problem. But when you’re eventually and inevitably faced with a financial crisis or a disciplinary issue with a child during your marriage, real problems will arise.

If you don’t share the same mindset in values as the company making the offer, don’t sign anything! Instead, keep looking for a company whose culture is more compatible.

And this time in your interviews, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions about a company’s culture and values. (Yes, you can and should ask questions of them since interviewing is a two-way street!). Challenge them to give examples of how they “live out” their core values.

Can I be my authentic self at this company?

This question is a good piggy-back on the previous question. If your values don’t match, then you’ll be forced to pretend to be someone you’re not. This isn’t something you can keep up for very long without feeling emotionally drained and exhausted.

Instead, you want to make sure you’re saying “yes” to an offer that supports your personal mission statement and “no” to those that don’t.

Still don’t have a personal mission statement written out? What are you waiting for? A personal mission statement is imperative in helping you make good decisions in life, like what job offers to accept.

To learn how to write your own mission statement, check out my blog post “How to Make Your Big Decisions More Simple” or purchase my latest book Personal Branding: Why You Need to Know What Makes You YOUnique and AWEthentic.

Does the company provide products or services I find meaningful?

If you don’t believe in the company’s products or services, you’ll have a difficult time in your new job. Even if you’re not in sales.

While you may have been able to feign enthusiasm for the product during the interview, you won’t be able to keep this up on a daily basis.

Your lack of enthusiasm will not only make you feel stuck in the wrong job once again. It will also become obvious to your colleagues and supervisors. When this happens, you risk being let go. Then you’ll find yourself once again in another job search.

Look for a company who provides a product or service you can get excited about!

Is the work in the role I’m best suited for meaningful to me?

Even if you’re good at a particular job, this doesn’t mean you may like it.

There are a handful of things I’m good at but hate doing.

Before accepting any offer, make sure at least 60% of the job duties are meaningful to you. This refers to not just a match with your values and skills, but also your interests.

In addition, you know a job will be meaningful if it supports your personal mission and goals. This is why I can’t stress enough the importance of having a personal mission statement.

Don’t settle!

Be honest with yourself in the questions above. In doing so, you’ll get unstuck and find a job with a company that’s a good fit for you.

Don’t settle for anything less!

Posts related to “How to Tell If a Company Is a Good Fit for You”:

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How to Gain a Little Protection From Ageism (Part 2)

In last week’s Part 1 post, I talked about the unfortunate reality of ageism that still occurs in the hiring process. I also talked about several things you can avoid on your resume to reduce your risk of age discrimination and increase your chances of landing an interview.

This week I want to share several ways to reduce your risk via your LinkedIn profile.  

What to Include on Your LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to, and nor should it, be just a repeat of your resume. There are several things you can include on a LinkedIn profile you can’t include on a resume. Do the following suggestions and you’ll convey the spark and energy you still have to offer an employer.

1. Talk about your future goals and show some personality!

Your resume only allows you to discuss your past work experience. But your LinkedIn profile also allows you to share your future professional goals. Your headline and summary section are the perfect places to do this.

Sharing your goals shows you still have a lot left to accomplish in your career and a lot to offer a company.

Your LinkedIn profile also allows you to show a little personality since you can use wording that paints a picture. Be yourself by including your passions, personal mission statement, and hobbies. Just make sure you remain professional in your descriptions.

While you should never write in first person on your resume, it’s better to write in first person on LinkedIn (at least in the summary) to be a little more personable. And so it doesn’t sound like you had someone else write it for you.

The LinkedIn profile is where readers of your resume go to learn more about you. Give them something more than just what’s on your resume!

2. Include the current buzz-words of your industry.

Sprinkle your industry’s current buzzwords throughout your descriptions in your summary and experience sections.

Not only will this make you appear up-to-date on the latest industry trends, it will also make you more searchable when recruiters do a keyword search on those terms. Your profile will likely pop up in their search results.

3. Share trending articles about trending ideas in your industry.

In addition to including your industry’s buzzwords in your profile, you can also show you’re up on the latest trends by posting articles about the current and future issues facing your industry.

You’ll not only want to post these articles in the general news feed, but also in the relevant groups where your industry’s recruiters are likely to be a member.

4. Join the right groups.

Speaking of LinkedIn groups, you want to make sure you join the right groups!

Recruiters can go to your profile and see which groups you’re in, so you’ll want to stay away from any groups with the words “mid-career” or “mid-life” in their name.

You’ll want to join more industry-related groups than you would job search groups. Being a member of a bunch of job search groups will scream desperation.

Instead, join the groups of the industry you’re in (or trying to transition to) since these groups often announce job openings within the industry. (To see jobs in groups, go to a group’s page and click on the “Jobs” tab to the right of the “Conversations” tab.)

This saves you time from having to sift through any job announcements you may not be interested in.

5. Include your updated skills.

Include your new skills, programs, platforms, and technologies you’ve been learning on your own time. (See #5 in Part 1.)

6. Include online courses.

LinkedIn offers a lot of online courses. So do MOOC (massive open online courses) sites like Coursera. These are great places to learn new methodologies and technologies in an affordable way. And many courses give you a badge to add to your LinkedIn profile once you’ve successfully completed them.

Listing these courses on your profile shows you’re constantly learning new things, you know how to use current technology, and you’re staying abreast of the latest knowledge.

7. Decide if you should include your photo or not.

If you look young for your age, or you have a photo from a few years ago that’s not obviously out-of-date (i.e. you’re not wearing out-of-style glasses frames), then definitely include it on your LinkedIn profile.

If you feel like you may be at risk of age discrimination based on your photo, you may decide not to include one. But you should know recruiters are also wary of profiles without a photo. In this case, you’ll need to decide for yourself which risk you’re willing to take.

Conclusion

You’ll never be able to completely eliminate your risk of ageism. But, by following the above suggestions, you’ll at least reduce your risk and increase your chances of getting an interview.

When you do land the interview, you’ll want to walk in with confidence and wow them with your competitive advantages by addressing their pain points and showing how you can be a problem solver for them.

To learn how, purchase my on-demand course Steps to Acing the Interview and Reducing Your Interview Anxiety.

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How to Gain a Little Protection From Ageism (Part 1)

While ageism is illegal in hiring processes, it unfortunately still happens to those over 40. Also unfortunately, there’s not a lot a job seeker can do to fight it.

My clients who’ve previously experienced age discrimination often say,

“If I could just get in the door for an interview I could really market my experience and show them I’m the right person for the job. I could show them how I’m an asset for their company instead of a liability.”

But much of the discrimination comes prior to the interview, usually at the first glance of the candidate’s resume or LinkedIn profile. This is when it’s hardest to prove or fight.

The timing of the discrimination makes it darn near impossible to advance to the interview where the candidate can really show his or her competitive advantages.

So, what can a 40+ candidate do (or not do) on his or her resume and LinkedIn profile to increase the chances of landing an interview?

Several things!

What to Avoid Doing on Your Resume

There are several mistakes older job seekers make on their resumes that quickly give away their age. These are mistakes you can easily avoid and therefore increase your chances of landing an interview.

1. Avoid using outdated contact methods.

If you still have an email address ending in aol.com or hotmail.com, this just screams over 40 (more like over 50)! Instead, create a Gmail account you can use just for your job search correspondence.

Also, don’t list both a landline and a cell phone in your contact info. Only include your cell phone.

You probably also don’t need to include your mailing address since most companies no longer send snail mail. Just your city and state is fine.

2. Avoid specifying exactly how many years of experience you have.

Announcing immediately in the profile summary exactly how many years of experience you have is not always a selling point. The only time it is a selling point is if you have the same amount of years of experience as the job ad requires.

But, if for example you have 20 years of experience for a job only requiring 15 years, you probably want to re-word your summary from “20 years of experience” to either “15+ years of experience” or “extensive experience.”

3. Avoid listing jobs from more than 10 years ago.

Many candidates want to show every job they’ve ever had, but employers really only need to see the last ten years of your experience.

If basing it on requirements like the one in the example above, adjust accordingly.

4. Avoid the outdated typing rule of two spaces between sentences.

If you’re over 40, you probably took typing in high school on a type writer. And you were probably taught to put two spaces between each sentence.

Well, this rule no longer applies since people no longer use typewriters (Google it if you think I’m wrong).

So break the habit now before you give away your age! Trust me, it’s not as hard of a habit to break as I thought it would be.

5. Avoid listing outdated (or obvious) technical skills.

That software program you learned at your old job which is no longer used anywhere else – leave it off!

Also, unless the job ad specifically states Microsoft Office as a must-have skill, don’t list it. At least not the programs EVERYONE uses, like Word or Outlook. Almost everyone has (and should have) these skills so they’re kind of “a given.”

And if you do feel like you need to include Microsoft Office, indicate your level of proficiency for applicable programs if you can honestly say you have “intermediate” or “advanced” proficiency.

Or name some of the advanced features you know how to use that will be useful in the potential job.

This will make you stand out from those who only list the program names.

Next, go and start learning some of the software and platforms required for the job you’re not already familiar with.

Many programs and platforms have free demos or online tutorials you can do right from your own computer. Start there and then play with them! Then, you can at least say you have “working knowledge” of those programs.

An example would be Slack, a platform many companies are now using as a team collaboration tool.

I have a Slack channel set up for me to communicate with my clients and for them to communicate with each other (both openly and privately) in one place.

By making this available for my clients, it gives those new to Slack the opportunity learn it and add it to their skillset.

6. Avoid listing your graduation dates.

You can take your graduation dates off your education if you’ve been out of school for at least 5 years.

There’s no need to have them on your resume. (And you definitely don’t want the hiring managers doing the math in their heads from your grad date since you’re trying to protect yourself from ageism.)

Just list all the other information about your education, and use the most up-to-date name of your institution. (For example, if your alma mater’s name changed from “_____ College” to “_____ University” after you graduated, change it on your resume.)

7. Avoid including your photo.

This advice isn’t just true for older candidates. It’s true for most candidates of all ages. While it’s okay and even encouraged to have a photo on your LinkedIn profile, it’s still not widely accepted on the resume.

This is true even though there are several online resume templates with a designated space for the candidate’s photo.

But, you can appear younger to employers by using one of these more modern looking templates (check out Canva) and just deleting the placeholder for your photo.

The templates found on Canva are good if the job is in an especially creative field where graphic resume designs are more appropriate. I would advise you not use these templates if you’re seeking employment in a more traditional or conservative industry.

How to Protect Yourself from Ageism, Part 2

But what about LinkedIn? Should you include a photo there? And how far back should you go on your experience in your profile?

Stay tuned for next week’s Part 2 post!

In the meantime, get more resume writing tips and advice when you purchase my on-demand course Resumes That Get You the Interview: Surprising Secrets to Getting Your Resume Noticed.

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