Straight Talk on Professional Communication for Transitioning Veterans

Feeling overwhelmed by your civilian job search?

Uncertain of the communication skills you will need as you transition back into the professional civilian world? 


Sandboxx has teamed up with Betts Recruiting to help you smartly navigate your career transitions and avoid common pitfalls. Get helpful content, tailored for where you are in your military journey, each week in the Sandboxx app!

You know communication is what makes any good team run smoothly and efficiently. It is also one of the most important pillars of leadership. Luckily, these rules apply in both the military and in any professional civilian workplace. Although you likely built strong communication skills from your time in service, they will need to be altered a bit in preparation for your re-entry into the your civilian profession.

The following 5 key communication tips will help you refresh your current communication habits as well as develop new skills that are vital to success in today’s modern *civilian* workplace.

ca96c5d09f72295733bbfd255e08d96a_communicative-memes-lack-of-communication-meme_500-378.jpeg

1. Do your recon: using information to your advantage

We live in an age where practically any question can be answered on Google. There is an endless wealth of information at our fingertips, and one of the most important aspects of communication is being able to understand and relay information in a productive and effective way.

One of the most important aspects of communication is being able to understand and relay information in a productive and effective way.

Here are some questions for you:

  • What does it mean to you to “stay informed in your profession”?
    • Keep up to date on the workings of your company.
    • Ask yourself what information is relevant to your role (considering the nature of both your workplace and position) as well as what you can learn and share to make your team work more efficiently.
  • What information is most important to you?
    • Scan books, journals, websites etc. in order to develop a broad understanding across a range of areas of expertise.
    • Then narrow your search down to a few more specific subjects that are relevant to your position. This will give you a strong base of knowledge overall.
  • What tools can you build which will allow you to easily access information?
    • Organize your information so you can find it whenever you need to. Depending on the source, this might include bookmarking websites or categorizing articles into files on your computer. This will help you avoid wasting time on aimless internet searches.
  • Don’t try to control the flow of information: 
    • This is relatively impossible anyways and will work against you. Everyone has access to the same information, so rather than focusing on filtering some parts out, encourage your co-workers to give their own opinions and interpretations of what is being discussed.

2. Listen well

There is nothing worse than a one-sided conversation. This applies to all aspects of the civilian workplace, whether you are interviewing for a job, engaging in conversation with your new team about a project, or giving a presentation to your co-works.

It doesn’t matter if it’s you who isn’t listening or those that you’re addressing; information is lost just the same.

It doesn’t matter if it’s you who isn’t listening or those that you’re addressing; information is lost just the same.

This cuts down on productivity and weakens team dynamics. Listening might seem pretty obvious, but take a minute to think of how many times you’ve tuned out to run through your mental to-do list or been distracted by that crazy car or that adorable dog while in a conversation with someone.

caca66af5c0d7d9e0d51addbb3e76b6f_squirrel-doug-squirrel-meme-dug-squirrel-meme_498-574.jpeg

Cell phones, social media, and texting don’t help either. So, in this world with hundreds of constant, distracting inputs, how can you learn to listen better?

  1. Don’t try to multitask. Put away your phone, close your computer, pull out a pen and paper to take notes (if it is appropriate) and give whoever is speaking your full attention. You want to absorb everything that is being said, not just 60-70%. Not only are you learning new information, but everyone values being heard and the speaker will appreciate your taking the time to understand what they are saying.
  2. When you have a conversation, invest yourself. At some point you usually have to stop listening in order to respond. Giving good feedback and exchanging ideas is one of the most productive ways of learning, so do not skip out on this. Really think about what someone is saying when they speak and allow the meaning of their words to sink in. Don’t spend the whole time they are speaking thinking of your response, but rather consider what they said and form a response based on your understanding.
  3. Don’t forget to ask questions.  Questions stimulate the speaker to expand on their thoughts, keep you focused on your conversation, and prove to the speaker that you are truly paying attention. You will leave your conversation with both more information than you would have without asking questions and a stronger interpersonal connection with your co-worker.

3. Communicate in the appropriate way

Now that we’ve covered the general specifics of comprehending and responding to information in the workplace, it’s time to get a little more specific. You can communicate using your phone, email, a hand-written response, or an in-person conversation. How do you decide?

First, consider the nature of the information you want to communicate. If it is personal or relating to a delicate matter, you might want to deliver it in person.

  • This will give you the chance to manage the reaction and the recipient(s) the chance to respond to you directly. However, if the information is more general and of less immediate importance it can go in an email or be related via phone call. Additionally, if what you are trying to communicate is potentially confusing or complex, it is always better to write it down so that it is not misinterpreted.

Second, consider your relationship to the recipient. Some professional relationships are more formal than others and thus require different modes of communication.

  • Figuring out the best and most appropriate way to communicate is up to you – think about the structure of your company, whether you have previously communicated with this person, and what form of communication they would be most receptive to.

Third, be accurate. People appreciate details and, unfortunately, will notice if you misspell words or leave out details.

  • Being thorough is one of the easiest ways to earn respect in the workplace. It communicates a strong work ethic and attention to detail that will not go unappreciated by both your co-workers and your superiors. Don’t let the ease provided by technology affect the quality of your information. We’ve all mistyped texts or emails and seen the consequences………this is easy to avoid and an important aspect of success in the civilian professional world.

90e49592725ce157d4bf5bb929233d46.jpg

4. Observe how communication works in your specific workplace

Every workplace is different and is going to provide you with different communication-related challenges. Additionally, every office encourages its own specific brand of work environment, and it might take you awhile to adjust and figure out what is appropriate.

Every office encourages its own specific brand of work environment, and it might take you awhile to adjust and figure out what is appropriate.

This is totally OK. It is important that you keep your mind open and observe the workplace dynamics in order to figure out how things run on a day to day basis and what forms of communication are used most often. This might involve asking yourself some important questions such as:

  • How do I relate to this company as a whole?
  • What sort of team am I a part of?
  • Do my co-workers seem to communicate more in person or via email or text?
  • How can I make my ideas more receptive to those around me?
  • Who are the most important people for me to communicate with?
  • What sort of conflicts occur here and how can I help?

The answers to these questions will only become clearer as you adjust to your new professional setting.

 

military-to-civilian-sm.jpg
Credit: blog.militaryauthority.com

5. Communication as a road to success

This might have seemed like a whole lot of do’s and don’t’s, but it is always important to look at the big picture and remember that developing communication as a skill will only lead to your success.

With technology as advanced as it is, communication these days might seem easier than ever, however, this isn’t necessarily true. Focusing on how you understand and relay information to those around most effectively will make you both a better team member and a better leader. So don’t skimp on developing how you communicate, because it will definitely be appreciated by your co-workers, increase your work productivity, and ease your transition into the civilian professional world.

Stay tuned

Stay tuned to this series to:

  • Learn skills such as interviewing, networking and salary negotiation to help you achieve your career transition goals
  • Be connected with civilian employers looking to hire Sandboxx veterans

PCS Season 2017

Some of us have lived this and others are new at it – PCSing. Permanent Change of Station. This is probably the highest-rated stressors among spouses, both new to the game as well as the experienced. There are tons of tips out there to survive your first, or 5th, military move. Our first PCS wasn’t the greatest and wasn’t the worst but we definitely learned a few lessons for next time. For example – make sure the experienced packers do NOT include your glass shelves with your husband’s truck hitch. 

I’m an organizer by trade and lists are my favorite. Here are a few items that should be included in your PCS season checklist:

  1. Take a deep breath. Moving is stressful but it’s also a new and exciting time for you and your family. Bloom where you are planted!
  2. Research your new duty station. Hawaii? Germany? Yes please! Bring on the new experiences, culture, and maybe a beach and a beer. I had so much fun researching Marine Corps Base Hawaii that part of me was ready as soon as we had orders. Volcanoes, beaches, and Mai Tais! adrian-benea-205697
  3. Get your movers and packers lined up. Decide if a DITY move is right for your family or if having the military move you is a better choice. There are pros and cons to both so make sure you weigh them both carefully. Also, be sure and keep a watchful eye during packing. Every mover is different and you do not want to have your items arrive in a condition that would have been better if your 2 year old had packed.
  4. Pet Situation. OCONUS moves as well as Hawaii require certain tests and flight requirements for your pet. Make sure you know the rules and regulations for your new area.
  5. Housing. On base or off? House or an apartment? Again, there are pros and cons to  both but make sure you make the best choice for you and yours. Opinions and recommendations are great but don’t weigh them too heavily up front. 
  6. Join Spouses Facebook Page. In this day and age, everyone is on Facebook. Join the page and get acquainted with others in your new area. You can even line up play dates, coffee dates, and potential babysitters!

wordswag_1492027543503There are hundreds of moving tips out there because each of us military spouses have had our own unique experiences. Embrace the change and open yourself up to every new experience coming your way. Moving is never fun – regardless of when it happens. Just know there is a light, and maybe a glass of wine, at the end of the tunnel.

MCB Hawaii and Lejeune Resources

If you happen to be moving to Jacksonville, NC or Marine Corps Base Hawaii some great pages to check out are:

Michelle is a virtual assistant by trade, and a military spouse by love. Her husband Sean is a pilot in the Marine Corps, and they have been married for 4 years. Learn more about her virtual assistant services here: MichellePen.com.

LinkedIn Profile Advice for Transitioning Veterans

Feeling intimidated by your civilian job search?

You might have heard that a LinkedIn profile is as important as a resume to your job search. Even if you have set up a profile, here are some tips to help yours. 

Sandboxx has teamed up with Betts Recruiting to help you smartly navigate your career transitions and avoid common pitfalls. Get helpful content, tailored for where you are in your military journey, each week in the Sandboxx app!

A strong LinkedIn profile is your most valuable asset on the job search. 92% of companies use social media to find new talent, and 87% of them use LinkedIn specifically, according to a recent Jobvite study.

LinkedIn profiles cannot replace your resume, but they offer more ways to leverage your military experiences.

Do you want to spend less time job searching, and accelerate how new opportunities may find you? Here are five tips for leveraging your LinkedIn profile to transition into your civilian career:

1. MAKE YOUR PROFILE PICTURE PROFESSIONAL

Make a good first impression, and choose a professional headshot photo that you would want your next boss to see. Avoid using pictures that are blurry, selfies, or have anyone else in the photo (even if it’s your adorable toddler). Hiring managers want to make the face-to-name connection when they see your resume, and they often reject applications without a polished LinkedIn picture.

2. LEVERAGE YOUR PROFESSIONAL HEADLINE

Your professional headline is the first thing potential employers will see on your LinkedIn profile. While you can customize your headline, don’t go crazy with too many words either. You want to express the most important thing about your job search.

For example, if you are transitioning out of the military in 6 months and interested in sales, your headline could be “Transitioning Veteran | Seeking a Career in Sales.”

3. FILL OUT ALL SECTIONS OF YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE

You might think writing the same information on your resume and LinkedIn is redundant, but it’s definitely not: Tailor your resume for a specific job, and use LinkedIn to showcase all of your career accomplishments.

It is important to use skills-related words in your Experience titles and descriptions. Your profile will come up higher in search results! Double check that you clearly describe your accomplishments and skills in these sections:

  • Experience (including military service)
  • Education
  • Volunteer Experience
  • Featured Skills & Endorsements
  • Recommendations

For your experience, utilize STAR Statements (Situation / Task / Action / Result) to communicate your accomplishments.

You can download this STAR Statement Examples template (.pdf) and start filling in the blanks. Here’s an example of Situation, Task, Action, Result statement:

As a logistics officer in Afghanistan, my mission was to resupply troops across a wide area. I led a training program of 126 soldiers, process improvement studies, and convoy and supply optimization planning. My difficult work across two months saved $10 million, 2,450 man hours and reduced dangerous convoys totalling 1,000 miles. I was recognized with a military award for my actions.

Read more on STARs here.

4. ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS

Just like people read Yelp reviews before choosing a restaurant, employers read LinkedIn recommendations to validate the intangibles of a potential hire. Ask your former supervisors, co-workers, or military leaders to exchange LinkedIn recommendations to make your profile more credible.

Even a few sentences about your work ethic or intangible skillsets can make your profile stand out to potential employers. Click here to learn how you can request recommendations from your LinkedIn connections.

5. CATCH UP WITH OLD FRIENDS: WHO IS WORKING WHERE?

Employee referrals are very important to the hiring process: 87% of companies find their best candidates from internal referrals. You can easily sort through your network based on location, companies, industries, or good old-fashioned ABC order. Whether you have 50 or 500+ LinkedIn connections, you’ll be surprised to see where people relocated or the industries they ended up working in.

When you come across someone who could potentially open doors for your job search, take 5-10 seconds to send them a quick message: “Hey! Congrats on your recent promotion. How’s it going at (company name)?” They will appreciate you paying attention to them, and it creates an opportunity for you to update them on your job search interests. This helps your network keep you top of mind the next time they come across an exciting opportunity.

Bonus Tip: Did you know LinkedIn offers special discounts for U.S. service members and veterans?

Stay tuned

Stay tuned to this series to:

  • Learn skills such as interviewing, networking and salary negotiation to help you achieve your career transition goals
  • Be connected with civilian employers looking to hire Sandboxx veterans

How to Format a Resume with Your Military Experience

Feeling overwhelmed by your civilian job search?

Maybe you’re sick of hearing how important your resume will be for your job search. Here’s some simple, useful advice to help you translate your military experience to civilian recruiters.

Sandboxx has teamed up with Betts Recruiting to help you smartly navigate your career transitions and avoid common pitfalls. Get helpful content, tailored for where you are in your military journey, each week in the Sandboxx app!

Now that you know how to translate your military experience, it is time to write your resume. Employers decide in mere seconds if your resume is worth reading. The best resumes use numbers and metrics to describe accomplishments, and in formats that are easy-to-read.

Betts Recruiting has put together an in-depth guide about their recommended resume format. This handbook covers every important aspect of a resume, from font size and spacing to what hiring managers are specifically looking for.

Download our Free Resume Handbook

While this resource includes specific examples for sales jobs, the advice is helpful for anyone transitioning into a civilian career. Consider the following tips for your military resume, and download the handbook for more in-depth learning.

8 TIPS FOR A MILITARY RESUME

You might think these mistakes are basic, but we see them every day.

1. Pick a legible font, but don’t shy away from italics and bold

Help readers focus on your accomplishments, not your fancy font

Basic fonts like Times New Roman and Arial are perfect for resumes. Italics and bold (in the right places) are very helpful for guiding the reader through your experience. Avoid getting too creative with your resume font.

2. Brevity is key
One page resumes – always! Your goal is to get to the first round interview. Keep the most important accomplishments on the resume, and save the detailed context for your phone interview. We know it’s hard to fit all of your military experience on one page, but that is why you have to prioritize those 3 or 4 stand out accomplishments.

3. Check for visual and spatial errors
Line up your bullet points and make sure your dashes are the same length to avoid any sloppy errors. You should also use these sparingly. Not everything needs a bullet point or dash.

Attention to detail is essential in medals and resumes

4. Do not leave unnecessary white space
Utilize the entire page. There are always ways to mess with line spacing and borders to make your resume look full.

5. Spell check your resume
Spelling mistakes are immediate indicators to hiring managers that you lack attention to detail. Read it, and then read it again, and again!

6. Different resumes for different jobs
Trust us – your chances of getting a first round interview will increase if your resume is specifically tailored to each job application. Incorporate the skills and responsibilities listed in the job description when you describe your military and professional experiences.

Are you looking for a job with the Federal government? Then don’t miss out on these Four Tips for Writing Your Federal Resume, by Marine For Life program.

Think about how varied military jobs are. Different resumes for different opportunities are essential.

7. Email your resume in PDF format
Write your resume in Microsoft Word, but save it as an Adobe PDF file. This ensures hiring managers can easily ready your resume regardless of the computer they use.

8. Print your resume on high-quality paper
Print your resume on resume paper — the thickness makes a difference compared to standard printing paper. And for in-person interviews, bring enough resume copies for each person interviewing you.

Stay tuned

Stay tuned to this series to:

  • Learn skills such as interviewing, networking and salary negotiation to help you achieve your career transition goals
  • Be connected with civilian employers looking to hire Sandboxx veterans

Recommended Professional Reading List for Transitioning Veterans

Feeling overwhelmed by your civilian job search?

Uncertain of how to learn about different industries and build new skillsets? 

Sandboxx has teamed up with Betts Recruiting to help you smartly navigate your career transitions and avoid common pitfalls. Get helpful content, tailored for where you are in your military journey, each week in the Sandboxx app!

Reentering the civilian world is tricky enough with all the unavoidable life changes that occur. On top of moving, changing pay or benefits, and dealing with the VA, might you also have to learn about a new industry?

We recommend researching a broad range of industries and opportunities. Without broadening your search, you may be unnecessarily closing doors on excellent, unexpected career paths.

And because we know you, we’ve included as many YouTube alternatives as possible. Enjoy and please share your recommendations too.

General Transferable Skills

 

  • Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves
    1. Watch the author explain why EQ is more important than IQ (9 minutes) on YouTube
    2. Buy or listen to audio on Amazon 
  • Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  1. Watch the author explain the YouTube
  2. Buy or listen to audio on Amazon

Operations

  • The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by E. Goldratt

The Goal is a management-oriented novel by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, a business consultant known for his Theory of Constraints. It provides a very readable introduction to the fundamentals of operations management, for example, leadership in a factory or logistics facility.

  1. Buy or listen to audio on Amazon.

Team Leadership

  • Leading Self-Directed Work Teams by K. Fisher

Concrete examples and direct advice on leading teams. You’ll find your civilian leadership challenges and culture will vary from the military environment and this is a good place to start.

  1. Buy or listen to audio on Amazon.

Project Management

  • Fundamentals of Project Management by J. Heagney

Project Management is probably part of your current military job. Like Sales, Project Management is a good fit for many veterans.  This book will apply to many different career fields, and will likely help you out in your military roles.

  1. Buy or listen to audio on Amazon.

Sales

Are you a recruiter? Or do you enjoy competitive, fast-paced roles with lots of personal interaction? Sales might be a perfect place to start.

The following list includes Betts Recruiting’s “must-read” books for both the aspiring and experienced salesperson to succeed in today’s complex selling environment.

Watch these videos to learn the different tactics salespeople use to turn prospects into revenue:

  1. Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross & Marylou Tyler
  • 4-Minute Video Explainer on YouTube
  • 18-Minute Discussion with Author on YouTube
  • 5-Minute Summary from HubSpot
  • Buy the book or audiobook on Amazon
  1. The Challenger Sale by Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon
  • 2-Minute Video Summary on YouTube
  • 5-Minute Book Summary from HubSpot
  • 3-Step Guide to Becoming a Challenger Salesperson from HubSpot
  • Buy the book or audiobook on Amazon
  1. The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge
  • 4-Minute Video Explainer on YouTube
  • 20-Minute Discussion with Author on YouTube
  • Buy the book or audiobook on Amazon

The Top Sales Industry Blogs to Read:

Learn about 25 other sales blogs to read here!

Stay tuned

Stay tuned to this series to:

  • Learn skills such as interviewing, networking and salary negotiation to help you achieve your career transition goals
  • Be connected with civilian employers looking to hire Sandboxx veterans

How to Translate Your Military Experience to Your Civilian Resume

Feeling overwhelmed by your civilian job search?

Uncertain of how to leverage your military skills to get the job you want? 

Sandboxx has teamed up with Betts Recruiting and other partners to help you smartly navigate your career transitions and avoid common pitfalls. Get helpful content, tailored for where you are in your military journey, each week in the Sandboxx app!

Reentering the civilian world is tricky enough, but tack on undergoing possibly your first job search, and it becomes an even crazier and more difficult process. Fear not—it’s not as difficult as you may perceive. The following 7 steps can help you as you start building your new résumé – because it’s not going to write itself.

r60_480.jpg

1. Get in the right mindset

Don’t think of your military experience as something that sets you apart from other applicants in a bad way—it is much more valuable than you realize. All you have to do is word your experiences in a way that helps your future employer see how what you learned during your time in service can apply to a civilian work environment.

Top tip: abandon all “military speak”

2. The importance of translation

During your time in the military you learned to speak a different language—a language that most civilians cannot relate to. Being able to speak these two languages is a valuable skill that will serve you well once you’ve landed a job. But for now just focus on translating this language into something potential employers cannot only understand but also use to view you in a positive light.

13485654_360.gif

3. What to avoid

# 1: Your military background is likely filled with acronyms like XO, PCS, MOS and TDY.

But to a prospective boss, these designations are most likely complete gibberish and the last thing you want is someone having to Google every other word on your CV.

“The last thing you want is someone having to Google every other word on your CV.”

This rule goes for military awards too as they can be similarly unclear. Resist the temptation to stock your résumé with:

  • AM’s
  • ACM’s
  • AAM’s
  • GCM’s
  • CIB’s

Instead, mention that fact that you were awarded for excellent job performance. If an award you received showcases outstanding skills that also apply to the job you are seeking, feel free to elaborate. This can set you apart from other applicants and further your case.

Overall, people hate to be confused, and seeing military abbreviations listed on your résumé might cause whoever is reviewing it to assume that you are:

  • wrong for the job
  • do not have the proper skillset
  • are over-qualified
  • or simply that don’t know how to talk to “regular” people

…even if none of that is true. Cue your résumé becoming a part of office wastebasket basketball.

# 2: Avoid exaggeration and do not lie. This might seem obvious, however, it’s easy to get carried away when writing a résumé. You might tempted beef up your CV by filling in the blank spaces with words that make you sound more professional. Stop right there.

Job recruiters and résumé readers are excellent at spotting fakes. Keep in mind that they receive hundreds of résumés for a single position and want to narrow down the pile as quickly as they can. This is why you should focus on sticking to the truth and highlighting the skills you possess that make you an attractive candidate.

4. Brainstorming


First, think about the skills you gained during your military service that would be useful in the job field you are interested in:

  • What were the main things you learned from your rank?
  • Were you a squad leader?
  • An Action Officer?
  • Did you work in Administration?
  • What kinds of missions did you go on?
  • Where were you based?
  • What was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you handle it?

The list goes on and on, and the more you consider your military experience the more material you’ll have to work with.

5. Organize your thoughts and quantify your experience

Second, make a list. This will save you time later when you write your résumé.

Some potential high-level skills might include such generic examples as these:

  1. leadership
  2. team building
  3. organization
  4. management
  5. technological experience
  6. executive experience

Once you have an outline of the general skills you acquired, it’s time to get more specific, like this:

  • Senior Enlisted: 1st Sergeant, Sergeant Major,CSM, Project/Program Manager 
    • Civilian Skills: Supervising, managing, evaluating requirements and work productivity, training and motivating a team to perform in stressful conditions and meet deadlines, developing special programs to meet unique needs or resolve problems, setting policies and determining procedures, directing employee activities, resolving conflicts within the operation, etc.
  • Junior Enlisted: Team/Squad Member, Crew Member
    • Civilian Skills: Teamwork, mastering basics of discipline, communication, and first aid, excelling in basic, specialized, and professional development training, developing strong work ethic, writing situation reports, following and enforcing stringent safety regulations, providing training and mentoring to new personnel, operating heavy equipment and vehicles in all types of terrain and weather conditions etc.

It is also important to consider specific experiences you had that you can quantify on your résumé. This will help prospective employers get a better idea of your accomplishments and how they can apply in a civilian workplace. For example:

  1. How many people did you manage or lead on missions?
  2. What was the success rate of your missions?
  3. How many levels of organization were you involved in?
  4. How big was your team?

These are just a few examples, but I guarantee that once you’ve gone through this exercise you will find ways to expand on each category with specific examples.

6. Market yourself

Third, compare the skillset list you created with the civilian job function you want to pursue. You need to convince the first person who sees your résumé that you are not only highly skilled, but that your experience would be a strong asset to their company brand.

“You want to convince the first person who sees your résumé that you are not only highly skilled, but that you will be a strong asset to their company.”

Unfortunately, you are far from the only person conducting a job search, and it is also likely that you will be competing against other veterans for certain jobs. This means you need to make yourself stand out and take the extra step to tailor your skills and experiences to match the job requirements for each position.

7. Reach out for a second or third opinion

After you have done this, a good test is to have a civilian friend or family member read over your list of skills and experiences and make sure that they understand what you’re saying.

“Have a civilian friend or family member read over your list of skills and experiences and make sure that they understand what you’re saying.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! You’re going through a tough process of re-integration into the workforce and chances are there are lots of people all around you that are more than willing to offer advice on both content and formatting.

Looking for more information?

Finally, to get a few different takes on the process, I’ve attached some links to articles that also offer guidance on building a post-military résumé as well as more specific translations of what ranks equal potential jobs in the civilian workforce.

Stay tuned

Courtesy of USAA

Stay tuned to this series if you want to:

  • Learn skills such as interviewing, networking and salary negotiation to help you achieve your career transition goals
  • Be connected with civilian employers looking to hire Sandboxx veterans

 

Tips and tools for finding your career fit as a transitioning veteran

Do you feel lacking in direction about your civilian career?

Or do you feel pigeonholed into one location or career track?

Many service members sell themselves short in the roles they target, or restrict their search more than necessary. Just because you were infantry in the service doesn’t mean your mandatory career path is security or policing afterwards.

With help from Betts Recruiting, we’ve gathered the following tips and tools to help you find your career fit as a transitioning veteran.

Tip 1: Be open to jobs, school or both

Through the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon programs, there are ample opportunities to get training with most or all of your expenses compensated by the government benefits which you’ve earned. You can literally get paid to go to school!

Also, you can work full or part time and still receive benefits for part-time schooling. So don’t overlook the GI Bill opportunities just because you find a job.

FDR is incredulous

Tip 2: Be open to new roles and industries

First, keep an open mind about the industries and roles you target for your search. You owe yourself the chance to discover new, or better career fits. You don’t know what you don’t know.

quote-there-are-known-knowns-these-are-things-we-know-that-we-know-there-are-known-unknowns-donald-rumsfeld-25-42-14

Second, consider the various connections and opportunities you currently have. You can explore more potential connections and networks by tailoring your resume and pitch to each individual you talk to. Are you struggling to think what civilian careers might match up to your military experience? Marine For Life has some tools for you like MyNextMove for Veterans, to learn about the kinds of civilian jobs there are related to your military specialty.

Tip 3: Be open to new geographies

You likely moved around plenty in the military, and found some locations to your liking, and others not so much. For more than seven out of ten service members, the military career is your short career. Your civilian sector roles are where you will spend decades more of your life.

Think of geographic flexibility as a significant tool to leverage in your candidacy. You probably do have a location preference, but be open to the idea that career progressions in most companies can involve relocations. Also, a good opportunity in a sub-par location could open up better career advancement elsewhere.

Tip 4: Where can you provide value?

Normal job searches focus on “where can I get a paycheck and job?” Great job searches focus on where your strengths can add real value to an organization. As noted career coach and writer Liz Ryan says, “get good at pain-spotting.” “Understanding business pain is a huge asset to a job seeker or anyone who wants to run their own career.”

Noted PhD researcher and writer Cal Newport recommends the Craftsman Mindset as you embark on a new career. “If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (“what can the world offer me?”) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (“what can I offer the world?”).”

In So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, he writes “the happiest, most passionate employees are not those who followed their passion into a position, but instead those who have been around long enough to become good at what they do.”

wordswag_1489507909064.png

Do you feel anxiety about “sticking the landing” with an ideal job immediately upon transitioning? Try to focus more on the long-term opportunities that a challenging, new career path could bring.

Take a look at your own career and passion through the philosophy of author and businessman Tony Robbins:

Career fit tools

  • Talk to a recruiting firm. These are specialty businesses that connect and train job seekers with open roles. For example, for those open to Sales or Business Development opportunities, Betts Recruiting can connect you with hundreds of companies interested in hiring veterans.

“We are honored to help military veterans translate their strong leadership traits and great communication skills into revenue generating careers with some truly innovative companies,” said Carolyn Betts Fleming, CEO and Founder of Betts Recruiting. “The Betts difference is that we build strong client relationships and work directly with hiring decision makers to advocate for veterans and give job seekers both positive and constructive interview feedback to set them up for success.”

  • Learn about careers, find career information, and locate career resources and advice with CareerOneStop.
  • Simultaneously broaden your horizons and filter your personal results with career fit tests, such as these, recommended by Monster.com and Career Fitter.

Stay tuned

Stay tuned to this series if you want to:

  • Learn skills such as interviewing, networking and salary negotiation to help you achieve your career transition goals
  • Be connected with civilian employers looking to hire Sandboxx veterans

The Disability Dilemma: too proud to ask for what you rate as a veteran?

 Not every veteran disability looks like this:

disabled vet.jpg

Sandboxx has teamed up with our partners to help you smartly navigate your career transitions and avoid common pitfalls. Get helpful content, tailored for where you are in your military journey, each week in the Sandboxx app. Thank you to Team Sandboxx member Don for sharing his thoughts on transitioning veterans and VA benefits.

As service members exit active duty, most are faced with a seemingly uphill battle to receive the benefits earned during service to their country. I do not speak for all veterans here, but I think I can make a pretty accurate statement about the common sentiment regarding applying for disability benefits. “I’m not broken, or missing a limb. I don’t have a purple heart, or shrapnel in my body.”

adulting.jpgA Sense of Independence

Most young men and women who join the military do so to begin a life of their own. Move away from the farm, gangs, or dead end small home town. For most it’s the first ever decision that they have actually made on their own. You own that decision. No one can make you join. That means you are making a huge leap into the mystical world of “Adulting.” A sense of pride and self-ownership of your life choices will never go away. This doesn’t change as you transition. You started your journey without any “help” from the government in the form or disability, why do you need it now.

111015homelessvet.jpgMy advice

We all see stories of homeless veterans struggling to find food or work. If those veterans had been receiving their benefits from the time they exited service, would they still be homeless now? That is an extreme representation of how your benefits can drastically improve your lifestyle as you exit your service to the country, but not an uncommon one. My advice is this:

Never feel bad for asking the government for something that was earned in blood, sweat, and tears.

I say all this because that is the way I viewed disability as I began my transition. I have provided for myself and my family ever since I left my father’s house en route to MCRD San Diego. I have never asked for a handout or help to pay any of my bills before. This is a common thinking process to our proud heritage of military service. We are strong and can provide for ourselves. I don’t need “The Man” to give me money to survive. I’ll figure it out. All of those are common beliefs among fellow veterans that I have served, and spoke with about receiving disability.

We have to stop thinking that way. I want to show you why receiving the disability you rate is just as important as finding your next career path.

VA Licoln quite.jpg

Where to start in submitting your claim

The first step is to submit your claim to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). You can do that several ways. For me, there was an American Veterans (AMVETS) representative on my base, so that is who I used. I am not officially endorsing them, but they did a good job for me. The AMVETS rep asked me to get him my medical record, and then he told me start at the beginning of my career and list anything that has ever hurt because of anything military related. He then filed and submitted all the proper paperwork for my disability claim on my behalf to the V.A., free of charge. It was pretty painless for me.

There are two other ways I would recommend to go about starting your claim to the V.A. You can submit your claim right to the VA via there web portal. All the paperwork needs to be filled out and then submitted through their portal if you go that route.  It can be a bit of an uphill battle doing all the work yourself there, so there is another organization I would recommend as well. The Disabled American Veterans (D.A.V.) is another great tool at your disposal. The have a pretty easy web page that you can navigate based on your branch. Then you can get contact info for one of their reps in your area to contact you.

png_maya_calendar_by_lg_design-d4wog2s.pngOnce your claim has been submitted you will probably want to learn two things about what your rating means, and why you were rated at what you were. If you haven’t done any math since high school (I might or might not be speaking about myself), than trying to decipher the Mayan calendar like table used for determining your rating might be a bit difficult. Lucky for you there are some great articles to help you navigate through this. (hidden in my funny ode to the mayans)

Not so simple

There are some issues that could arise that you need to be aware of that could either keep you from getting your disability all together for a period of time, or make you have a lower rating than what you think you rate. One of the more important things that you need to know as you transition is that if you accepted severance whether through voluntary or involuntary separation from the military it will affect, according the V.A., when you start to see your disability in your account. They call this “double dipping”, and has been debated for several years as unfair. The “double dipping” rule is still in place, and doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. You can read more in the Military Times article which talks through a couple such scenarios.

Stay tuned

Stay tuned to this series if you want to:

  • Develop your target career and fit
  • Learn skills such as interviewing, networking and salary negotiation to help you achieve your career transition goals
  • Be connected with civilian employers looking to hire Sandboxx veterans

Navigating Your Military to Civilian Career Transition: Lesson 1: Know Thyself

Do you know what would make you happy in your civilian career?

Do you know all your options?  What obstacles are in your way?

Sandboxx has teamed up with our partners to help you smartly navigate your career transitions and avoid common pitfalls. Get helpful content, tailored for where you are in your military journey, each week in the Sandboxx app!

My Story of Transitioning

PW.png
Helmand Province, 2013, and Brooklyn, 2014

My name is Patrick Weeks and I’m humbled to share my own story, and excellent resources to help with your military transition. It’s important to keep in mind there is no formulaic approach to guaranteed success. There are infinite ways to go about your transition. My goal is to simply share some best practices I have learned from my own journey and from those around me.

From 2009-2014, I served as a logistics officer in the Marine Corps. I loved the challenging environment and the camaraderie, but when my first child was born I felt a new calling. I decided to transition out of the Marines and focus on building a life with my new family.

Returning from Afghanistan to greet my wife and 1-year old, six months before transitioning out of the service.
Returning from Afghanistan to greet my wife and 1-year old, six months before transitioning out of the service.

I began applying for jobs while deployed in Afghanistan.  Optimistic and uninformed, I thought the transition to a civilian career would be simple and easy. I soon learned how difficult my transition would be. Having to conduct interviews via satellite phone half a world away was just the first of many obstacles. Luckily, mentors and a strong network provided me the resources and guidance to navigating my transition to civilian life.

My mentors counseled me that the moment you begin thinking about life after the military, you need to start by having an honest conversation with yourself.

know thyself auguste comte

What Makes You Tick?

In the first part in our weekly transition series, you’ll learn more about yourself and career fit from the points of view of personality, professions, others (through a 360-degree assessment), and yourself.

1. Personality and your career

It’s important to know yourself as a person beyond your military background. Your personality and interests are the components of yourself that you’re not leaving behind when you take off the uniform.

The 16 Personalities test is a simple, popular personality profile. Based on Carl Gustav Jung’s study of psychological traits (for example, introversion and extroversion) and the famous Myers-Briggs test, 16 Personalities covers the “Big Five” personality traits of individuals: mind, energy, nature, tactics, and identity. As one of the most popular personality quizzes online, with over 26 million tests taken, it’ll cover everything from your basic qualities to your romantic relationships to your workplace habits, strengths, and weaknesses. Find out your personality results and save your results!

16 Personalities Test
16 Personalities Test

2. Professional fit

Have you thought about becoming a veterinarian? How about a potter? Underwater basket-weaver? The Sokanu test just might connect you with careers you’ve never even heard of.

The Sokanu test

This in-depth, algorithmic assessment takes you through various career-oriented comparisons, gauging both your skill level and interest. Based on your history, workplace preferences, interests and even personality, presents you with insightful reports and career path suggestions. Find your workplace fit and save your results!

3. Get others’ perspective and advice with a 360-degree assessment

As “Reinventing You” author Dorie Clark explains, “A good way to start is by giving yourself a “Personal 360” interview. In a 360 review, the key people you work with — your boss, peers, subordinates and clients — provide anonymous, aggregated feedback about you and your performance.drill sergeants yelling at marine recruit

By pulling together your own Personal 360 interview, where you talk with assorted people about your strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to begin leveraging your best talents for the next stage of your career.

These people are not only your best hope of receiving honest feedback, they’re the ones you’ll turn to for mentoring and (eventually) new business and referrals. It may seem like an imposition to reach out, but the truth is, it takes a village to reinvent yourself.” Get a more in depth overview here. Just do it and save your results. You won’t regret taking the plunge and asking your circle for advice

4. Take stock of your hard and soft skills

First, list all your hard skills and certifications. What objective qualifications could you highlight in a resume or interview that employers would value? Do you have quantifiable training? Accomplishments? Awards? Degrees? Leadership experience?

Second, list all your soft skills, strengths and talents. What defines you: how you work, how you lead? If the hard qualifications on your resume can get you an interview, these soft skills can get you the offer. Soft skills and subjective character qualities apply widely across industries.

By following the process above, you will think through personality and professional fit. You’ll gather others’ and your own view of your defining characteristics, and you will have distinguished hard and soft skills which objectively qualify you for positions.

Now what?

What are your current goals?

Consider how your current goals related to your civilian transition need to be clarified or revisited. What do you need and want? How can we help? Please let us know!

Stay tuned

Stay tuned to this series if you want to:

  • Develop your target career and fit
  • Learn skills such as interviewing, networking and salary negotiation to help you achieve your career transition goals
  • Be connected with civilian employers looking to hire Sandboxx veterans