TAO Self-help

Title:Your Annual Check-up!

Author:© 2015 Tom Wolfe, author; all rights reserved; excerpts from Out of Uniform: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition; used with the permission of the author and publisher, potomacbooksinc.com.

Date:May 2015

Source:potomacbooksinc.com

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Performing planned or scheduled maintenance is part of the daily routine for many military personnel. We learn very quickly that proper and timely upkeep on equipment and systems will go a long way to reduce downtime. It also leads to stellar scores on those pesky operational readiness inspections. A funny thing happens when we focus on and discover the value of planned maintenance-it carries over to our personal lives. Getting your car's oil changed every 3000 miles or so. Draining those garden hoses before the first frost of the winter. Scheduling those annual physicals. Getting a flu shot in the fall. Marking those important dates on your calendar well in advance of the event. Swapping out those smoke detector batteries? See what I mean?

Although you are probably very good at applying the principals of planned maintenance in your military occupation and your personal life, some of you may have neglected to do so in another critical application-career transition.

Preparing for and accomplishing a successful military to civilian (M2C) career transition requires hours of physical and mental preparedness. No matter how much we do to get ready for and execute this process, mistakes and disappointment are inevitable. Successful job hunting and interviewing is more than just preparation and perseverance, it is also about control. If you fail an interview because of something you could have controlled, that is called stupid. If you fail for reasons out of your control, that is called life. Since your degree of operational readiness is within your control, you must pay attention to this critical mission.

Let's say that you were M2C mission ready in 2014. Does that same status apply in 2015? Maybe yes, maybe no. Now is a great time to make sure the answer is yes. Here are ten tips for your transition check-up.

  1. Review your network. Does it need a jump-start? Has it gone stale? Did you give up on some of those contacts? Did any of them ask you to reconnect after the first of the year? Make some new connections. Alumni associations? Professional societies? Job fairs? Networking events? Friends? Family? Social networking? Neighbors? Your church congregation? Do not be afraid to ask for help and advice. Remember: who you know and who they know can have a big impact on developing leads and getting your foot in the door.
  2. Personal appearance. Military personnel are known for excellent grooming and pride in appearance. Do you live up to that expectation? Take a look in the mirror. Would you hire that person? Would you even want to meet that person? Hair cut? Facial hair? Fingernails?
  3. Your resume. Have you tweaked it recently? When was the last time you had a fresh set of eyes review it? Does it reference the year 2014? Maybe that needs to be changed to 2015. Does it require any job title and description updates? Achievements? Did you receive any awards or accolades at the end of 2014 that should be added? Address and phone number still good?
  4. Interviewing attire. Had your suit been cleaned recently? Do you need to update your interviewing attire? Everything still fit well? Maybe a new suit is not in the budget, but a new shirt and tie or blouse will make the old suit look like a new one. Take a look at your shoes. Polished? Heels and soles in good shape? Laces frayed?
  5. References. Review the people on that list. When was the last time you checked in with them? Do they know your search has started and continues? Has their contact information changed? Have they changed their preferred method of being contacted? Do they remain willing to act as a reference for you? Do they need any information from you that will assist them in giving a reference if asked?
  6. Online presence. Google yourself. What comes up? When was the last time you did some housekeeping on your social networking pages? Do you have a Facebook page? Will it make a potential employer more or less interested in you? Inventory those pictures and make sure you are comfortable sharing them with a boss and co-workers. Do you have a presence on LinkedIn? You should. It is a powerful job search tool. In addition to crafting a profile that represents you well, identify and join any special interest groups that have to potential to expand your network.
  7. Reading. What books are on your nightstand or in your e-reader? Are you keeping up with trends in your industry or specialty? Special interest groups and postings on social media sites? Do you read business periodicals? Professional or trade journals? How about job hunting and career transition guides? Looking for a great place to start? Check out this one: www.out-of-uniform.com .
  8. Physical fitness and wellness. Do not neglect your personal needs. Job-hunting is a stressful time in your life. It requires a lot of mental and physical energy to support it. Take thirty to sixty minutes out of every day to move your body. Get the blood flowing. Walk, run, jog, bike, swim, stretch, ... The physical and mental benefits of this short break in your daily routine are equally important.
  9. Give back. It is very easy to get tunnel vision during a job search. It is perfectly natural to focus on selfish issues. It is also easy to get down on yourself when things are not going well. You need to shake it off. Physical activity will help, but so will volunteerism. Get involved in community service. Most people feel better about themselves when they are helping others. Although it should not be your sole motivation, volunteering is also a good way to expand your network.
  10. Refresh. For many companies a new year also means a new budget. Maybe they could not fund that job last year but now they can. Just because a company could not hire you in 2014 does not necessarily mean that 2015 is out of the question. Follow-up on previous interviews. Re-apply at the company's website. Review past correspondence to see if additional follow-up might help.

In summary, simply apply the concept of the Five P's to your M2C career transition-prior planning prevents poor performance-to enhance your readiness for success. GOOD HUNTING!

By Tom Wolfe, Career Coach
© 2015; Tom Wolfe is an author, columnist, career coach, veteran, and an expert in the field of military-to-civilian career transition. During his career he assisted thousands of service members in their searches for employment, placing more than 3000 in their new jobs. Prior to civilian life, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served as a surface warfare officer. He teaches transition courses, gives seminars on career and job change, writes about the career transition process, and continues to counsel current and former military personnel. His book, Out of Uniform: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition, was published by Potomac Books in 2011. Tom lives on the North Carolina coast with his wife, Julie, and their Chesapeake Bay retriever, Maggie.

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