Posts Tagged ‘job search’

I have just under three weeks left of my transition leave before I wake up a civilian for the first time in over 20 years.  So far, the transition from soldier to civilian has been pretty easy; I have been so busy that I have not had a whole lot of time to wallow in what is soon to be my past life.  I was very fortunate to land not one, but two jobs and have been putting in the hours ever since.

There are many detractors and naysayers about what the Army provides transitioning service members, but I am not one of them.  I thought that all along the way, there were things that I needed to do, that I was provided a rough outline to accomplish.  Other than a few mandatory checkpoints along the way, I was able to pick and choose when and what I would follow.  Even if there was something I chose not to do, I at least gave it a once over in case I needed to take advantage of it later.  The one experience I will have to wait on is my VA compensation, that will be a few months into the new year before I get even the tiniest insight as to how that will go.

I managed to pick up a ton of skills over the years and the key to landing my positions was putting it together coherently in my resumes and tailoring them to the positions I was looking at.  There may be a similar thread throughout any one of the resumes I sent out, but they were all organized with the language of the position I was applying for.  I am not so naive as to think that I have found my dream job, with a dream company, but I have entered the field I want to pursue, even though prior to I had no idea that was what I was looking for.  I am enjoying learning the Loss Prevention/Asset Protection discipline and I am coming to realize that it has as many possibilities available as my career in the Army did.  There are so many areas of interest within it that just like my prior career, you get trained for one thing and the next thing you know it is time to look at the next area.  I look forward to moving from novice to journeyman.

A few bits of advice for those looking to start or are in the transition process:

1.  Outside of rare instances, your resume alone will not get you hired.  It will open the door, but it is up to you to walk through it and let them know you  are who they are looking for.

2.  Organize your job searches.  Keep track of who you applied to and when.  Make sure you know which resume you sent to them.  Windows computers provide this neat thing called a file structure, use it to your advantage.

3.  Follow-up any interview with a Thank You letter.  It pays dividends.

4.  A good cover letter attached to your resume will fill in the blanks and add a personal (not too personal) touch.  A resume is a statement of fact, cold, possibly a little embellished, but it is a dry read.  A cover letter adds a sense of YOU to it.

5.  Do not be afraid to ask for a critique or explanation if you are not hired for a job.  Some companies are kind enough to send you a rejection letter without being called in for an interview.  Use this as another opportunity and ask to speak with the HR department.  Explain you are just transitioning, ask for what you could have done differently, then make those adjustments and re-apply; this lets them know you are serious and it answers a few of the questions for them they may have when you score that interview.

6. Do your research before the interview.  Make sure you understand who you are applying to and frame your answers to their questions based on their culture and philosophy.

7.  Dress the part.  Wear a suit and tie.  The right image from the get-go lets them know that you may be coming in low, but you intend to rise to the top.

8.  When applying do not put in salary requirements on the application, especially if they are not advertising a range in the announcement.  Let it work itself out in the interview/hiring process.  I received a couple quick rejections on applications because I was putting salary in, as soon as I stopped putting it in, I received more call-backs.

9.  Do not under-value yourself, but do not value yourself out of a field you want to work in either.  It is a fine line for us service members.  We have tons more management experience than most professional managers in the civilian world, but we are breaking in to fields that are new to us.  Even good managers and interviewers can feel threatened by a potential new hire.  Use your savvy, be aware of your surroundings and who you are taking to, and most importantly how you are talking to them.

10.  Assume the interview began the moment you parked your car and that it does not end until you are well out of sight of the building.  Always present yourself in a professional manner.  To paraphrase my last job “assessment is an everyday event”.  Be relaxed, just not too relaxed, be sure but not cocky, if you do not know an answer, at least make them think you will find it out.  The biggest thing is to leave a great impression and make them wonder where else in the company could your bad-ass self do wonders for them.  Don’t be a one trick pony.

These are just a few things to pass along while my mind is still fresh, and keep in mind these apply to someone who is actively seeking on their own, it is a whole different ballgame if you are being actively recruited for a position.  There are no universal rules for landing a job, but there are a few constants.  The biggest one to remember is that it is all up to you, no one owes you anything and no matter how irreplaceable you were in you last job, you are going to be the FNG in the new one.


Today I sit a mere 91 days from taking the big leap into retirement.  After almost 21 years I will hang up my stripes, join my family and close out the longest running chapter of my life.  75 days later I will be added to the retirement rolls for good having used up the remainder of my accumulated leave time.  Hopefully, prior to October 18th I will know what career I have to look forward to and continue to fund this extravagant lifestyle Uncle Sam, and your tax dollars, my family and I have grown accustom to.  In that I kid, many years we scraped by, some years we lived middle class normal from a financial perspective, but many of the costs during those more flush years have come at a price more burdensome than fiscal debt.

The last few weeks or so the anxiety has really started to creep in to my life with so much left to do in order to close out my career.  I have one house that I desperately need to finish fixing up so that I can get it on the market.  I need to complete my physical and medical records review so that I can waited with baited breath for the VA to figure out what I may collect in disability.  I need to finish out whatever meetings and briefing and schedule whatever needs to be scheduled so that I can leave this place when the day comes.  I need to continue to write and tweak resumes and really lay into finding a job that I can work from our new home.  Most of all I need to figure out how to let go.  This and more is just on the current career front.

On the family and personal side there are numerous thoughts, good and bad flashing through my overactive imagination on any given day at any given time.  I have been commuting as often as is practical to see my family for anywhere from a couple days to a week plus over the last two years as they settle in our retirement home.  How are they going to take having me as a permanent resident in their lives after more than a decade of flashing in and out for periods of time?  For that matter how am I going to take it?  That is just as big, if not a bigger change, for me than it is for them; chances are that the thrilling, exciting, potentially life ending reasons I was gone from their lives in the past will not be the case anymore.  That shit is a young man’s game and I am swiftly moving away from being a young man and I will need to seek new things to bring excitement to my life and hopefully a career that is lucrative enough to be able to do so while it keeps me as interested in coming to work each day as the Army has done for me for so long.

I will be moving into an environment that my impact has been made substantially from afar in.  My family has never, ever made me to feel anything but included, even when I was not there, but I must acknowledge that many, many times I simply was not there.  I have a beautiful wife who is finally engaged in a career that she was both educated for and wants to work in.  A teenage son who is close to leaving the nest, either under his own terms and conditions or at the end of a boot sometimes.  A young daughter to whom I am a hero, but has yet to have me home for more than one continuous year in her short life.  All of these wonderful people are currently living in a location I prodded and nudged them to and they embraced wholeheartedly once they got there.  A place I soon will call my home too.

Despite all this I am not afraid.  I will get a new job, there are a couple things that at this point look like they may pan out, even if they are not a next career, but a stepping stone.  We already have a house, the wife has a job, the kids are in school and one of them works.  Clearing the Army will be done in time and to be fair, they have done a very good job at providing resources and some mandatory training to help transition.  There truly is a lot out there if one is willing to put the work in to getting it done.

So why all the anxiety and worry?  Why the jacked up sleep cycle and periodic moments of “what the fuck is going on?”?  I think it is because I am getting ready to shed my skin and change my life for the first time in two decades.  I could probably pick up numerous jobs here locally if I was so inclined, I have a pretty unique and varied skill-set and I know there are quite a few things either already or coming available that I could grab on to.  The problem is I need to break away from it, at least for a little while.  I need some distance in order to be what some very deserving others need me to be.  I need to figure out all these skills and experiences that I have developed and had all these years can be best put to use.  I need to figure out what my real strengths are vice the tools I have gained.  Basically, I need to figure out how the current me becomes the old me and what the new me is going to be and how the best parts of the old me can fit into that without the worst parts coming in and making a complete trash job of it.

For many years now I have been what I consider to be the perpetual “number 2”.  I don’t like being the figurehead.  I like to be behind the scenes, moving the pieces around, getting things done.  I have on many occasions stepped into that number 1 position, but it is not my most comfortable place to be.  I am going to have to get used to taking charge of me in the very near future and making sure that the moves I make benefit me and my family, as well as whoever puts their trust in me as a potential employee.  It is this change that causes me my sleep issues and makes me break out in cold sweats from time to time.  All the rest is a somewhat structured form of chaos that has filled my life in one way or another for the last 20 years.  I will work through them, but as I get closer to making one final jump in my Airborne career I realize, that I am not familiar with the parachute and I do not know how hard the landing is going to be when I finally hit the ground.  Hopefully, after I catch my breath for a day to two I will be off and running to the next adventure.

More discussion on worry and anxiety as new ones creep up over the coming weeks.  I started this forum as a personal way to vent and clear the old brain pan out from time to time.  I think it would be for my betterment if I started using the resource I put in place for myself a little more as the day draws closer.