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What is the Culture You Want to be Part Of?

You are looking for a job. You have bills to pay; mortgage/rent cell phone cable TV, car loan, groceries, health care if you are not a military retiree with Champus. All rising. Welcome to America! But you will spend a lot of time at that job, so you may want to choose wisely. Alas, most companies seem to be badly run. (There are some military types who have posted on LinkedIn about “toxic managers” as well.) Trust me—these folks can ruin your quality of life. So when you interview the prospective “boss”—and you should—what would you look for? A well run company values its workers—all of them. And is listens to them—not only because it’s the decent thing to do, but because it is good business!

.” Alan Trefler of Pegasystems, “..as I have told so many employees over the years, “Don’t expect me to have all the answers, because I don’t. If you think I do, then we’re going to fail, because I need your thoughts and insights to solve this problem.” http://www.tlnt.com/2011/08/10/do-you-have-a-culture-where-you-value-your-employees-opinions/

“Once you tell everybody that it’s their job to have an informed opinion and, by the way, it had better not be the same opinion as everybody else’s, then you’re sharing some of that responsibility. And you obviously need to be able to listen if you’re going to actually hear those opinions… “http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/business/alan-trefler-of-pegasystems-on-valuing-employees-opinions.html?_r=1&ref=business

So how do you find this out, in your interview? One way to tell is to watch to see of the interviewer is really listening to you. I have taken many depositions, and “defended” many as well. (A deposition is a very formal interview,) Trust me, the lawyers asking all the questions are almost never really listening. It’s sad. How you can tell is they are looking down at their checklist, they are not making eye contact, and they just don’t seem interested. (They aren’t!)

Another way you can tell, of this seems to be a job you might have a serious shot at, is asking.  “How does this company assess (or gather or evaluate)   employee input to our mission? “How do we asses how well we are doing?” The type of business will make a difference to how you do this, but the companies that do the best (unbeknownst to the majority of “experts”( are the ones who give employees a stake in the business and listen to them. More on that next time! Meanwhile—ask!

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Do We Work For Money Or Do We Work For Pride?

I have been corresponding with veterans of the United States Air Force in LinkedIn and have been pleased—but not really surprised—to see confirmed my sense that a sense of mission and excellence plays a HUGE role in job satisfaction.

 

We all shared the sense of mission when we served, and (by coincidence) it seems several of us also shared a common “AFSC”—military job description. Ground to Air radio. We were (I now know) the ‘go to” guys in part because our electronics career field worked on pretty much wasn’t worked on by any other specialty. We work on telephone switchboards, reel to reel tape decks, whatever needed to be fixed. And of course radios.

The point here is having a sense of mission and accomplished were the motivations here. Yes, the “benefits” wren good—I never had any money worries when I served in the Air Force—but did I make a huge paycheck? No. I wore an “OD Green:” uniform, and was happy to make sure it was starched, pressed and perfectly  met all requirements’. Aligned“gig line”, shined “low quarters” –and oh, yes, an undershirt, women and men–no umbrella allowed. Hair not reaching below the lower edge of the collar. Not glamorous is it?

But I was part of something.

Make sure when you go looking for your civilian job you will find something to be proud of.

No, you probably are not an excellent writer…

Sad, but true. I have taught many students– many of them military. Most corpsmen or nurses or radiologists.  They cannot write.  They are deeply concerned about their patients: however, many are non native speakers. They may be potentially terrific employees in the civilian sector–but they have lots of competition and they need to pass the first barrier- GETTING THEIR RESUME READ! (TIP– all the advice you got for free is probably worth what you paid for it.)

Is it “negative” to say many job seekers cannot write well? Probably– but it is no more negative than a correct diagnosis of a patient–if it is accurate. So if you would prefer to skip the job-seeking  step of  knowing your strengths and weaknesses… read no further!

All experts agree, most incoming college students were not skilled writers, even a decade ago. Those seeking degrees in their profession, such as health care, or in, say, IT, do not see a need to write well. (And no one loves slogging through a course that makes them feel stupid, such as composition or–heaven forbid–“critical thinking.”) As a result, those graduating with degrees, even from traditional schools, tend to be poor writers.  (see http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/education/2009/august/What-s-Happening-to-Writing-Skills.html)

Add in the Internet age and the for profit schools.. and you can say with great certainty the “excellent communication skills” requirement in almost every job posting is wishful thinking. (More on what else  employers think that is not realistic in a future blog post.)

Again, the ability to put yourself in  the shoes of the person looking to hire you is of high importance. VERY high. But most people lack this skill. In fact, the skills that produce excellence are not taught in school. And I spent 6 years active and one full year Active Reserve– I know “excellence” is not a part of  military culture. “Close enough for government work”–this was our motto. In fact, definition #4 for “soldier” in Merriam Webster Dictionary is “one who shirks work”.

So, only a few of these military members who are fortunate enough not to be disabled due to combat conditions will be ready to access the exact job that they are a fit for–the the MUTUAL benefit of both employer and employee–and the “consumers” for health care–without some help.