Monday, December 12, 2011

Reintegration Thoughts

LinkedIn is a great resource for information and connections.  If you aren't on, you are missing an important tool for networking, job opportunities and information.  I recently read a couple of great discussions and am reprinting some of the comments here with permission.

Army veteran William Cozzolino writes:

Here's a laundry list of things after 16 years outside my active service time. First, some background to level set, I've worked primarily in advertising and marketing in smallish companies of about 100 people and very large corporations that rival the size of the active Army. All share some common characteristics. 
  • Their definition of punctual is not as pinpoint accurate as the military. 
  • Definitions in general are usually up for debate, meaning some folks are going to toy with established normative standards if it's beneficial to do so. 
  • Taking full and direct ownership is a blessing and a burden, most will skirt direct ownership, it is a standout characteristic for vets that I've found some senior execs to embrace, but be wary of your competitive peer group, it can be made to bite you. 
  • Direct is good, but don't present criticism in an unvarnished way; if you're going to call something bad, maybe couch it as a challenge, always, like in the service, approach the issue with an corrective idea in mind. 
  • Management is less comprehensive, I like to distinguish the difference as Leadership vs. Management. Leadership is embodying the skills and the fortitude to complete the objective, and demonstrating success from the front. Management is less bold, more of a resource allocation exercise, management also feels less personal. 
  • Gung-ho is great, telling a new boss that your objective is to take their job is bad, they won't understand that you mean you want to make them look like a hero so they move up and pull you along. A corollary point, don't assume bosses will recognize your input or will pull you along. When assessing upward mobility look at the economy in general, the economy for your specific industry and the company in specific, if you see a lot of people who've been in positions for 3 years or more, you're not looking at fast advancement. 
  • Mentoring is great, find a good mentor and work him/her to help you network and gain skills / insights into the company. Being a mentor for your particular skill set is also very helpful, it will establish you as a discipline leader. 
  • Be careful not to pigeon-hole yourself, in advertising all account execs knew not to become the one proficient at old debt collection or the machine would turn you into the go to guy/gal, be good at what you do and seek new opportunities to expand your horizon; companies like the military promote to general, not just a rank but a perspective. 
  • Keep away from politics in an official capacity, be slow to identify with others too familiarly and realize that even though there are many who have served, there are many more who haven't and not everyone will recognize your perspective or the skills you feel are inherent to a veteran. 
  • Find a way to promote those skills that distinguish you in a manner that doesn't make any insecure bosses feel that they should be concerned that you'll outshine them, at the same time stand up for those attributed uniquely yours that you've gained in your professional military career. 
  • Finally, build your network in the community, find the local American Legion, VFW post or some other veteran's organization and get to know folks, it will help you keep touch with like minded people and will give you a place where you can voice concerns or frustrations with folks who understand your perspective. 
I hope this has been helpful to some extent.

Air Force veteran Jeffery Linskens writes:

I've gone to the school of hard knocks since retiring. A few things I've learned that I will share are: 
  1. If you are geographically flexible, you will do better. 
  2. If you use your network and by build your network you will do better. 
  3. If you go where other veterans go, you will do better. Federal service, contractors, etc. 
  4. Employers speak "skill set." Get a "skill set" and learn how to speak it. For example, there are a zillion jobs that mention SAP and SQL. Learn SAP and SQL and you have a "skill set." 
  5. Watch "Best Years of Our Lives". It's an old long movie (FF the dull parts) but it describes exactly what we are facing. 
  6. Many civilian employers don't understand veterans or have negative perceptions and biases. Get over it and move on to the ones who don't. North Dakota is cold, too. Either put on a parka or move to California. 
  7. If you are entitled to a disability, get one and use it to land a federal job. 
  8. If you want to live in a certain place, and can only find a so so job because you want to live there, cut your deal and get over it. You chose the place. 
  9. Consider a franchise. 
  10. Most states have an person in their Unemployment offices that specializes in helping vets. They have a lot of contacts they can use for you. 
  11. Think of yourself as an immigrant in a new country. Nobody cares about what you were in your country, what language they speak, what holidays they celebrate, etc. 
Keep pressing...hard, and adapt to feedback, and be flexible. Good luck.


Here's another great article:  Eight battlefield skills that make reintegration challenging 

Have some reintegration tips?  Email them to me and I'll include them in a future posting.

RLTW  Karl

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