Author: Purepost (page 2 of 2)

The Value of Your Military Experience In the Workforce

Military experience is complex. Trying to explain it to someone who has never been a part of the community or even known a soldier, personally or professionally, is even more complex. When you sit down to look at career exploration, start with resume translation and interview preparation. Breaking down the process into two phases can be helpful. The resume will be the written, first impression that a potential employer sees as it slides onto the desk amongst possibly hundreds of other qualified applicants. The interview is your opportunity to present yourself as the qualified, professional you are — in person, in real time.

So when you’ve made it through the application process, translated resume in hand, you look good on paper, but what other qualities may an employer be interested in talking about in person that you can directly relate to from the framework of your military experience?

Deadlines

A mission-oriented life means deadlines are non-negotiable. There is most likely a sequence of events either happening, about to happen, or already happened and in review and your task falls or fell somewhere on that spectrum. Every day of your life has involved deadlines that were a part of a much larger objective. While the civilian workforce hold deadlines in high regard as well, your ability to respect, meet, and go above and beyond will supercede the majority of your civilian counterparts. Bottomline: You know how to get the job done.

Teamwork

A successful military career breaks down to your ability to work as an effective, functioning member of a team. The level to which this meant life and death during your time in the military is paramount and has shaped your definition of a team for life. While your future civilian career and the teams in which you’ll interact may not function at such a high level, your success will still lie on the basic ability to work well in a team. Effective communication, respecting opinions, and appropriately executed actions add great value to all career experiences.

Community

A large part of your military career has been laced in and through a community. You have thrived not only in a work environment that required teamwork but a larger community that knows the importance of family, communication, outreach services, and looking out for your fellow man. This heightened awareness and sense of community may not be as commonplace in a civilian work environment, but your ability to connect, give back, and be socially aware of work and social events will position you well as someone who is cognizant to the people, places, and events surrounding them.

Now that you better understand the real value of your experience, take the first step towards transitioning into a civilian job! We’re here to ensure it’s as easy as possible.

Gaps in Employment

Explaining the gaps in your employment history can be both nerve wracking and confusing for most people. As many Veterans decide to leave the Military and use additional vacation time to transition into their next career path, this additional gap combined with military service can prove confusing to potential employers too. Employers will sometimes make assumptions about candidates with a gap in their employment and often employers believe the best workers are the ones who already have work. But as with life, things happen. Unemployment happens, transitions happen, and in the end, honesty is always the best route. 

From family emergencies, illnesses, layoffs, and even luck, each person can be faced with the decision to work full-time or use their time and attention for something else. Overall, honesty will be your main champion on your resume and in your interview.

First, let’s discuss your resume. Your resume is a brief overview of who you are and why a company should sign you up for an interview. Most recruiters are looking at your last two positions in less than 30 seconds to determine if you are a quick fit for the job. If this is where your gap in employment resides, it’s time to make sure your resume is setup to answer questions with clear and concise information. (Note: Purepost users can add the following information to your Civilian Job or Skills Sections.)

  1. Professional Experience versus Employment. An Employment section of a resume just tells the reader that you worked, but a Professional Experience section can cover a variety of experience and skills learned over time. This avoids you putting more than one sentence about why the gap is there if it works. Use your cover letter to explain any additional information if needed; your resume should include all the achievements and experiences in the past 10 years.
  2. Volunteer work. Add Volunteer positions into the Professional Experience section. Why? You either provided part-time work for free which the organization appreciated or you provided a skill they did not have but added to the organization’s success. Talk to the organization about being your reference and the title you could list as your “job”. This could include PTA officer, Troop Leader, and Volunteer Coordinator if you gained experiences due to parenting or a personal break in employment.
  3. Stay Active and Share. Emphasize any activities you undertook during the gap to improve your professional standing. School, certifications, volunteering or major personal projects can be mentioned as well as consulting, freelance or contract work. The time you dedicated to a project will show your active learning ability. Additionally, mentoring and coaching peers and children should be noted to share your ability to be a part of another person’s development.
  4. Importance of the Skills Section: Having this at the top shows what you bring to the table regardless of gaps in time. Add years of skill experience to enhance that element if the company has it listed in the job description. For example: “10 Years Project Management”, “Bilingual- Spanish (Read/Write)”, or “2 Years Fundraising”. You can add additional Skills to your GuideOn resume by clicking on the Skills section and adding a new Skill at the bottom.

Next up: How to discuss your gap in employment during your interview. Remember, you want to tell the hiring manager or recruiter why adding you to the team is the best option for both parties, don’t feel that you need to give all the details of your gap. Compare it to purchasing a quality used car. The goal is to find out how well the car will help you and be an asset to your life; not all the bad things it went through and how it might not work in one year due to a previous issue or change.

  1. Job cuts. Why are you no longer with your last employer? Identify if you aren’t at a company because of a restructuring or downsizing. Those two words are important to why you no longer work at a company in a time where there are cutbacks, even in the Army.
  2. Your Choice to Leave. Explain your reason for leaving a company in a positive way during an interview. What were your achievements? What did you learn that you want to use in your new job?
  3. Focus on the future. Rather than dwelling on or apologizing for the break, you want to let the interviewer know that you are excited and ready to work. Be prepared to answer questions based on your previous jobs, experiences, and values. Provide positive, future focused responses and be proud of the accomplishments you’ve had at a job, in school, when volunteering and in life.
  4. Be Honest. At the end of the day, just be honest if asked what you were doing during a gap in employment. How you verbally respond to the question and your physical behavior portraying confidence will allow the person to best understand why you were without a job for a specific period of time. 

With ever changing career mobility and economic tides, gaps in employment are becoming more and more common. Don’t let any taboo fears override your instincts to just be honest and explain periods of unemployment in your professional life. Honesty and confidence in your journey will be your best accompaniment in a resume and interview setting.

Ted Talks for Veterans in Transition: How to Talk so People Will Listen

Ever wonder if people are really listening to you? As we’ve seen in previous TedTalk highlights, there are great behavioral methods to adopt to be not only a more effective communicator, but also someone who others’ actually listen, absorb, and react to. As your transition from military to civilian life involves many conversations where you need answers, assistance, opportunities, and results, Julian Treasure has some great tips on how to speak so that people WANT to listen.

A Veteran’s Call to Action

When I left the Army in 2007, I had been away from combat for one year and was in the process of transitioning to life as a student. As ridiculous as this sounds, I was more afraid of going to class than receiving a 0300 Dustoff mission. I was afraid because I didn’t know how to act as a civilian, I was zoning out in class thinking about Iraq, I was surrounded by people who had never experienced combat, and I believed I had lost my identity.

Warriors and the Village

Hundreds of years ago, warriors left their villages to fight wars. Sometimes they were away from home for years. Villages knew their warriors, the same as small towns like Bandera, TX and Elmira, NY know their warriors today. When warriors in the past returned to their villages, they were welcomed back with open arms. Every person in the village understood what their warrior had been through. Warriors were not held on pedestals, but were respected because villagers knew they were fighting and defending the community. This understanding helped make the transition from warrior to farmer a relatively smooth one. This understanding eliminated misconceptions about combat and what it meant to be a warrior transitioning to a new profession. Older generations of warriors in a village were the norm, which reinforced the re-assimilation of younger warriors returning home. Our community understood us.

Fast forward to the first half of the 20th century. Many communities were smaller than they are today. There were still generations of warriors in these communities. Organizations like The American Legion and the VFW provided a common place where warriors could come together. Service was mandatory and generations of warriors were still abundant.

It’s different today in the early 21st century. Technology and industrialization have grown our communities and formed our great cities. Our military is vastly improved. We have superior combat technology and our warriors are better trained and educated. We do more with fewer warriors, resulting in only 1 percent of our population serving at any given time. Generations of warriors are widening. Today, a warrior comes back from years of fighting, separates from service, and is thrown into a society that does not understand what he has been through.

Who can help Warriors?

So how do we do a better job of veteran assimilation? I could make the argument that our government and local municipalities should solve the homeless veteran battle, veteran unemployment, and the lack of healthcare resources. I could also make a case for joining the local VFW or American Legion post. I believe it’s our duty, as fellow veterans, to welcome back our brother and sister warriors. It’s our duty, as veterans, to be the community that assists with the transition from warrior to farmer, so to speak. No one can do this better than veterans. And every veteran can make an individual difference. With social media, technology, and the cell phone, we’re all connected and closer than we were 10 years ago. A couple of months ago I discovered that a flight medic I served with was retiring. I got this from his Facebook timeline. The village is not dead, it’s just changed a bit.

Here are some examples of how veterans can help veterans:

  • Telling your transition story to a veteran – Warriors need to understand that they are experiencing nothing that another warrior before them has not been through. This can assist with avoiding isolation from loved ones and assist with combating PTSD – resulting in encouragement to seek professional help.
  • Resume writing – A veteran assisted me in translating my military service to private sector understanding. I was completely lost without his assistance. The process involves digging up old OERs/NCOERs, looking at past assignments, and reflecting on your career. Assistance from a warrior whose made the transition provides validation that what you did while serving can translate to the private sector. It will help you to understand how you can contribute after service and what gaps need to be filled through education and training to be successful. This is why I founded Purepost.
  • Coaching newly separated veterans on how to interact in the private sector – I currently hold monthly Skypes with two buddies who are in the process of leaving service. I tell them about my mistakes and what I thought when I was interacting for the first time in the private sector. The questions they ask me are the same questions I had back in 2007.
  • Connecting veterans with civilians in a social setting – I knew very few non-military folk when I left the Army. It took me a while to make civilian friends. After I made a few good friends, I could see they were just like me. In fact, I would argue having new friends, who have never served, is vital to the transition.
  • Offering assistance – When I was an Army Aviator, crew coordination was paramount to the safety and success of all missions. A vital element to crew coordination is “Offer Assistance.” Crewmembers offer assistance anytime a crewmember sees or recognizes anything that posses a hazard to flight. This could mean taking the controls if the pilot on the controls is having difficulty, or questioning another crewmember prior to taking action. All warriors in combat offer assistance. It’s a matter of life and death. Why should this be any different after service? If you meet a fellow warrior, ask how they’re doing. If you feel a connection, exchange emails or phone numbers. I consider any day I meet a fellow warrior in the San Francisco Bay Area to be a good day. We’re few and far between in this area and it’s good to know we can lean on each other if needed. Even if it’s for a discussion over a late night beer or coffee.

The days of the village welcoming the warrior back home are still possible. The village is now virtual and comprised of veterans. This past year I changed my profile picture on FB to a photo of me in my dress blues. I later noticed my news feed filled with dozens of profile picture updates. Fellow warriors were changing their profile pictures to high speed photos of them kitted up, wearing their dress uniform, or busting a pose in front of a Black Hawk. We do this because we’re proud of our service. We do this because other veterans are proud of our service. And we do this to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters to cope with. We may be hard to find in the real world, but we’re all discoverable and accessible in the virtual world.

I challenge all warriors to reflect on how they can welcome a warrior back to our village. We’ve been fighting for over a decade. We all have suffered, lost brothers and sisters, many have physical wounds, and we all have emotional wounds. We understand each other. We can’t sit around and wait for the government to do something for us and we can’t count on an organization to solve our problems. We all have the power to have a direct impact on a warrior. That’s something worth living for.

Anthony

Quick Tips on Recruiters (The non-military kind).

Whether you started your military career in a recruiter’s office or not, you get the idea. You know the process. You know that the recruiter’s job is to onboard candidates that are a good fit for the military life. There are questions. There is an interview. There are physical standards to be met. They are your initial step in the military sector. While a recruiter in a corporate setting functions in a similar capacity, they have very little to do with the hiring process other than qualifying you as a candidate for the company they work for. So what exactly does a recruiter do in the civilian world? Do they sit in store front offices and wait for people to drop in and ask about employment?

Fast forward 20-30 years when your time comes to retire and transition into a civilian job, you’ll be taking on recruiters of a different kind. Corporate recruiters function on a very different wavelength with very different parameters and goals. Here are the top 5 things that you should know:

  1. A corporate recruiter is not a headhunter. Different jobs. Different roles in the job marketplace. A recruiter normally specializes in one industry or in one particular company. They are involved in a broad spectrum of human resource capabilities for their company. A headhunter, on the other hand, usually seeks out talent for one specific job and can be contracted by many different companies at once.
  2. Recruiters are the connection between YOU (the candidate) and the hiring manager. They seek to make the best matches for their company, pass those candidates onto hiring managers who then conduct interviews and make job offers. The recruiter won’t be a part of the hiring process past connecting you to the hiring manager.
  3. A recruiter is not there to help guide you in your career transition or active seeking process of employment. They are paid by a company to find candidates to fulfill jobs within their organization. So while a recruiter may help you land a job within their company, they generally won’t make referrals, recommendations, or mentor you in a general sense.
  4. A recruiter will spend a VERY limited amount of time on your resume. So make it concise, easily formatted, and a strong reflection of you who are as an individual! Purepost can assist you in completing your resume as a military veteran entering the civilian sector. Having your military experience translated in a way that a recruiter, hiring manager, or future employer understands is critical. Recruiters are looking at up to a thousand resumes depending on the position, so give your resume the 30 second test. Can somebody not familiar with the military get a good picture of who you are by looking at your resume in 30 seconds?
  5. Ask questions. This is your career and your future. “Once you have my resume, when should I expect to hear from you again?” or “Will you ever submit my resume to a company without my approval?” are questions that a professional should have no issues answering and should welcome from a prepared, professional candidate.

We look forward to providing additional tips and content on recruiters, the process, and how to navigate your way through your career transition. If you have any specific requests or insights, please email us at blogs@purepost.co.

~The Purepost Team

Sources: 
What Does A Recruiter Actually Do?
5 Things You Should Know About Job Recruiters
At First Glance

Ted Talks for Veterans in Transition: Body Language

TED has spreading ‘ideas worth sharing’ all over the world since 1984. As something that began as a one-time conference quickly became an annual conference in 1990. TED (Technology, Education, Design) has grown into a flourishing non-for profit organization, finding the cutting edge experts on important issues and ideas.

In a widening global platform of internet virality, it’s often hard to know what is worth your time and what you should just pass by without a second thought. If you have not yet heard of Ted Talks – they are among the most influential dialogues and speeches making impacts on social relationships, educational approaches, technology advances, environmental resources, political endeavors; you name it, there is a probably a Ted Talk on the topic.

So how can Ted Talks help in your transition? We are excited to feature a Ted Talk every month that highlights a different component of the transition process, career development, or civilian workplace. Being aware of modern issues, innovative solutions, and breakthroughs in all areas of personal development can be a driving force in confidence, presentation, and a successful transition.

The way we walk, the way we talk- It all matters. Have you ever thought much about your body language during an interview? The vibe you give off at a social networking event? How your eyes and audible sighs form the relationships and shape the responses others give you?

Dr. Cuddy is a professor and social psychologist at Harvard Business School. Her research on non-verbal expressions of power has afforded some ground breaking insights and explanations that are relevant in just about every facet of day-to-day life.

Leaving the military and entering the civilian workforce will bring a new wave of new people and new experiences in various social situations. What better to know than how our body language affects others and how we can cue others into what we are saying non-verbally. Cuddy explains how her research has empirically verified that certain specific types of body language shape who we are and have the ability to influence positive outcomes for us. The base summary of her discourse at the Ted Global event in Edinburgh, Scotland, is that engaging in “power poses” or dominant postures for as little as 2-minutes a day can decrease your cortisol levels (the stress hormone), increase your testosterone levels, and increase your appetite for risk. Who doesn’t need a little less stress and a little more excitement in their lives? The most immediately obvious use of this model for veterans or service members transitioning out of the military, as well as military spouses seeking employment, is to engage in “power poses” to prepare for job interviews. Dr. Cuddy, along with Dana R. Carney and Andrew J. Yap, have confirmed that employment of this technique definitively improves the performance of job seekers during interviews. Cuddy summarizes the key aspects of the research with, “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”

If you only watch one Ted Talk, make it this one; the guidance and advice that Professor Cuddy offers has the ability to dramatically increase the likelihood of positive outcomes as you move forward in your career and personal life!

~The Purepost Team

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