Posted on Jan 4, 2014
COL Vince Lindenmeyer, Ph.D. (Retired)
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For those looking at transition in the next 3-5 years, I found two articles interesting in beginning the discussion on reflecting, "what is it that you want to do?"   The first article, "Now Here Are 9 Reasons Why I Won't Hire You," delivers a fresh dose of reality…from the willingness to learn and start something new, to the use of social media and preparing for an interview.  After reading the article, a couple of questions for you:  
a.  Why do military folk think getting a job on the outside seems easy (points 1, 2, & 9)? 
b.  With the growth of pay scales over the past decade, do military folk transitioning have high civilian pay expectations?

On a positive note, I read another article on 15 traits employers look for when hiring and believe it describes the perfect military veteran transitioning who has deployed is adaptive, flexible and a people person.

a.  How can you apply the 15 traits to your past experiences to describe to a prospective civilian employer your unique ability to adapt and apply creative solutions to a complex problem?  How does this translate into success in a civilian job?

Have you answered the question, "what is it that you want to do?"

Definitely open to your thoughts,

COL Vince Lindenmeyer
Posted in these groups: Military civilian 600x338 TransitionK14817871 Resume
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Responses: 6
COL Vincent Stoneking
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Sir, 
I think a big part of exaggerated pay expectations, as well as exaggerated position expectations is the concept of "pre-paid dues." What I mean by this is the idea that "I was a 1SG, Co CDR, MSG, LTC - I am automatically mid-to-high level in the food chain." This is just another way of stating #1 from the nine items. The idea that all that time, effort, etc. "don't count" is a big pill to swallow.  Especially since, from the military point of view, it looks very similar.  It is, but also very different - but you need the civilian perspective to see that.

The second big issue, that the nine items article touched on too briefly is that MOST people in the military have become (very good!) jacks of all trades, based on our promotion & assignment policies. HOWEVER, most of the high-paying civilian jobs are for specialists with many years of consistent experience in one thing. [this is one reason that I try to steer O's that come to me towards mid-level management positions - Jack of All Trades often works there.]

The other big issue I see repeatedly is the inability, especially among transitioning AC folks, is the inability to speak civilian english.  This applies to both the resume/cover letter and the interview itself. Most of the country aren't veterans, and most hiring mangers aren't as well. Speaking as a hiring manager, if I can't read what you wrote on your resume (Deputy G3, CUOPS), it moves your resume into the "nope" category. I've got a whole bunch more to go through, and am not on a "where's waldo" expedition. 

That last sounds harsh to the job seeker's ears, especially to the veteran, but it is the truth. The job hunt is a series of sales events. I, as the hiring manager, am the buyer/prospective customer.  All the applicants are salespeople. I DO have a need that I have to fill.  But I've got a lot of people telling me that they can fill it.  Way more than I could hire. Way more QUALIFIED than I could hire. In Army terms, I use screening and evaluation criteria.  I use resumes and cover letters to screen out those who are 1) Not obviously qualified and 2) Not as obviously qualified as the others that make the initial cut. I then use interviews (and reference checks!) to try to determine who is the best fit. This in the context of the hiring being only one item on my plate. 

Finally, reference checks merit mention. There is an urban legend that they are not checked. Often, they aren't. But that's not the way to bet, especially for all responsible positions. I have rejected a "perfect" candidate because his supervisor and a coworker gave less than glowing references. Having had to fire staff, I will not hire people that have red flags. I also will not limit myself to the names you provided, if I can reasonably come up with other names. 
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COL Vince Lindenmeyer, Ph.D. (Retired)
COL Vince Lindenmeyer, Ph.D. (Retired)
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Vincent, thank you for sharing your experience to us active duty folk…much appreciated and great insights!  Yes, I would love to find folks that are "jack of all trades" that "get 'r done" with the big (read strategic picture) in mind!
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LTC Cavalry Officer
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Thanks, I will be incorporating this into my next 6+ years!
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SFC Erin Barnett
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I have led and lectured for the past 5 years for several career transition groups so I can directly address 3,4,and 5, the resume bullets. It comes down to communication. The military does speak civilian and the civilians don’t speak military. PC NCOIC, BN CDR, even tank commander, mean nothing out here. The World doesn't understand what we do and you need to explain it to them in THEIR words, not the military version.

#9 is an issue too. Senior leaders, both Enlisted and Officers, have so much experience in so many different things that we really don't know what civilian “field” we want to focus on. We are most of us are great leaders and even jugglers. We could be project managers, operations, logistics, purchasing, just about anything and new veterans often do not know what they want to do.

My advice, would be first, decide on where you want to be. Are you sure you want or even can go back “Home”? Then decide on who you want to work for. Pick the company first. Then decide on what their needs are and make you resume fit their needs.
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