TAO Self-help

Title:A Resolution You Will Want to Keep

Author:© 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:February 2013


A frequent topic of conversation in the beginning of every year is the New Year's resolution. You know the drill. Loose weight. Get in shape. Clean out the closets. Eat healthy foods. Be a better friend. Pay down debt. Quit smoking. Find a hobby. Read more. De-clutter. Unplug. Organize the garage. Keep a journal. Although 45 percent of Americans make New Year's resolutions, only 46 percent of those resolutions survive through June. (Journal of Clinical Psychology, Scranton University, December 13, 2012). Whether you make them or not, or keep them or not, if you are in career transition and looking for a job, now would be a great time to make this one and stick to it:

I resolve to take a fresh look at all aspects of my transition and job search plan and make adjustments that will enhance my chances of success.

Here are 11 ways to help you implement and keep that resolution:

  1. 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 2012? Maybe that needs to be changed to 2013. Job title and description updates? Achievements? Did you receive any awards or accolades at the end of 2012 that should be added? Address change? Phone number still good?
  2. Wardrobe. Had your suit been cleaned recently? Is it possible that you need to update your interviewing attire? 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?
  3. Physical appearance. Take a look in the mirror. Would you hire that person? Would you even want to meet that person? Military personnel are known for excellent grooming and pride in appearance. Do you live up to that expectation? Hair cut? Facial hair? Nails?
  4. Reference list. 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?
  5. Network. Review your network. Has it gone stale? Does it need a jump-start? Did you give up on some of those contacts? Did some of them suggest you 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.
  6. Your Online Identity. Google yourself. What comes up? When was the last time you did some housekeeping on your social networking pages? Inventory those pictures and make sure you are comfortable sharing them with a potential employer. Do you have a presence on LinkedIn? You should. It can be 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. Professional reading. What books are on your nightstand or in your e-reader? Are you keeping up with trends in your industry or specialty? Do you read business periodicals? Professional or trade journals? How about job hunting and career transition guides? Special interest groups and postings on social media sites?
  8. Health and fitness. 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. Volunteer. 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 if it happens to you. The physical activity mentioned above will help, but so will a little bit of give-back. 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. Organization. How are you keeping track of your search activities? Journal? Log book? Paper? Digital? What have you done, when did you do it, what happens next? Are you keeping track of contacts made? Follow-up activity? Expected action? Suspense dates? Can you find and provide information quickly if asked? A place for everything and everything in its place.
  11. Reconnect. 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 2012 does not necessarily mean that 2013 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, stay active and be positive. Dedicate a significant piece of each day to some aspect of your transition and job search efforts. Resolve to do this and stick to it. This is one New Year's resolution you cannot afford to break. GOOD HUNTING!

© 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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