Sunday, June 12, 2011

Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door

Many Sailors are having to learn a new vocabulary of PTS, ASVAB and ERB.  Others are facing an upcoming retirement.  Some are choosing to leave military service and go back to school or into a challenging job market.  In the process of moving from military to civilian life, it can be helpful to have a book that helps make the transition easier. This week Lt. Theresa Donnelly returns to review such a book, with both practical advice and context -- answering what is at the heart of personal motivation.
Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door - Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You -- by Harvey Mackay
Review by Theresa Donnelly
With the military facing drastic personnel cutbacks, a book examining how to stay prepared for the next career chapter is a must-have for all separating and retiring service members. 
On May 18, Department of Defense Sec. Robert Gates gave a press conference where he announced plans to reexamine military compensation. This initiative gives a clear indication that a comfortable military retirement is NOT a guaranteed outcome after twenty years of service. Around that same time, the Department of Defense announced that all services have consistently exceeded their recruiting numbers and the military is looking at many options to cut down on personnel costs. 
This is why it is imperative to have a robust plan in place for your post-military transition. 
Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door provides excellent tips for everyone from recent college graduates to a seasoned professional looking at their next career move. In fact, author Harvey Mackay is so confident in the book’s outcomes he offers readers a refund of the book should they apply the principals listed and not reach their intended goals. 
The book is a quick and easy-to-digest read.  The short chapters contain many real-life examples of successful strategies for landing that dream job. Much of it resolves around one’s attitude towards the search, such as living as though you’re already in demand.  During that time when you don’t have the job you want, Mackay suggests filling the void with volunteer passions, fitness and education. Bottom line: find projects that give you joy, even if you’re stuck in the wrong job, or diligently working on getting the next one. 
He also spends quite a bit of time examining how to plan down days to include constructive pursuits, such as building a network of like-minded friends who share your goals and to fully research the field you desire. 
Five years ago, I remember “interviewing” public affairs officers here in Hawaii when I was a Navy surface warfare officer so I could get an idea of what exactly a Navy public affairs officer does. I needed to understand their day-to-day duties, drawbacks of the career, and their advice for someone like me just getting started. I found this to be a very effective strategy for obtaining the position I’m in now. 
As for your goals, Mackay advises that they be measurable, identifiable, documented, attainable and specific. These adjectives can help make your search clear and realistic. And, accepting setbacks must be part of the plan. I often think that there isn’t anything worth doing without its own set of issues or what I call “no”-fairies who will always come out and oppose your ideas. The trick is learning how to work around these obstacles and make your objectives better as a result of what you learn through the process.  
Reading and education are key to future success.
Lastly, I want to touch upon the importance of networking. This is examined pretty thoroughly in the book, and it’s worth highlighting here. It is through these friends the majority of jobs will often come. Being a friend, mentor, teacher and resource to others (and doing so unconditionally) can provide you with the greatest, intrinsic satisfaction of all.  Facebook, Linked-In, Meet-Up groups and Twitter are all free resources and can help you stay connected to others. Planning lunches and outings with friends just to socialize and not to work an angle can be enjoyable and productive. It may also lead you down a new and unexpected path. 
What I liked most of all about this book is the focus was centered upon being passionate and sharing your time with others, not a power-hungry ploy to climb a corporate ladder. As someone who is not motivated by making a lot of money, it was refreshing to dive into the advice generated, which was geared toward finding ways to be fulfilled through a job, and not ways to be important, noticed or rich. This book is definitely a great tool to aid in that endeavor.
Theresa provided her first guest review for Navy Reads two years ago this month: Dee Dee Myers’s Why Women Should Rule the World.
What motivates you?  How passionate and committed and focused are you?  For help with these questions, turn to a classic in the Navy Professional Reading Program list: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. -- Bill Doughty

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