Sunday, 27 October 2013

Military Professionals - Are You Missing On Networking ?

Career Transition Tips # 4; The Power Of Networking

“Networking has turned out to be the most powerful tool for job hunting in the recent times”.

In this five 
articles series  on career transition, we have already seen the value of accepting the change of uniform from military to corporate( click here), the overwhelming benefits of starting early in  career transition( click here) , and the importance of knowing yourself ( click here). In this fourth article, we will see the advantages of networking and what best practices the retiring/retired military professionals can employ for a better career.

With the popularity of social and professionals platforms such as facebook and LinkedIn ,Networking has gained enormous importance in today’s time for finding the right job opportunity. The traditional method of meeting each other also hold the  importance though in today’s fast –paced environment , there is too little time for face-to-face socializing and networking. 
Military professionals aren't encouraged to take active participation on social platforms during their military service due to the services constrains. On the other side, Networking is an art which an individual learns gradually, spending time on these platforms and examining new techniques. Therefore, when a serving personnel is on the verge of retirement, his network is restricted to only his circle, which constitutes mostly military professionals, whereas he is stepping into a world which is full of corporate people, who are unfamiliar to him. Also, In the times of recession and gloomy economy, employers and recruiters just don’t want a bad hire and therefore they want to recruit someone whose referrals are available to them from a trustworthy contact. All this together places the military professional at a major disadvantage when it’s time for him to enter the corporate world.  A few practices can help military professionals in finding their dream job with less stress.

An account on these social platforms will mark your presence for further exploitation. A LinkedIn account is your mini-resume and hence gives a good glance of your profile. Make sure to complete your profile in all aspects as doing so increases your chances of meeting the eye of the recruiter. LinkedIn is used extensively by recruiters to find the suitable candidates for their companies. Make sure your profile has recommendations from your links or contacts.

If you have lost touch with your school or college friends who are in corporate, use facebook and LinkedIn to get in touch with them. Those friends  have been in corporate for long and can really help you not only  in understanding the corporate dynamics but also in finding a suitable job in corporate. Suppose your school days friend happens to be connected with the recruiter of the company that you would like  to work with, Your friend can act as the required link between you and the recruiter. Try to take out some time during your leave to connect with some of your friends in corporate.

The social platforms also have companies pages and following them may help you in finding the job openings in that particular company( For M2C’s company page, click here and here).

Once you've shortlisted the career that you’re interested in, you can join the domain specific groups to know the various practices,  and take part in discussion related to these groups. For example, if you’re interested in Aerospace and Defence industry, joining groups of this field will allow you to interact with professionals working in various Aerospace and Defence industries. You can even connect with them and seek their suggestion on how to make your profile stronger. Also once you actively participate in various discussions on these groups, you will start getting noticed by the industry people and you will find more and more people are viewing your profile. This way you increase your chances of your profile meeting the eye of the recruiter.

Once you’ve shortlisted 20-30 companies that you want to work with, you can use the search engine in LinkedIn  to know which all employees are from military in that company. For example you are interested in working with XYZ company  and you want to know the work culture and the environment from a ex-military professional working in that company, you may search with the company’s name and Indian army or Air force or Navy , you will get a list of military experienced professionals who have worked in the past or are working presently with the company. You can even be friend with them to get a lead for working with that company. The shared values of our past military profession allows an opportunity for us to connect with  other military professionals and help out each other.  

In this telescopic world, networking has become an essential job finding tool and a detailed understanding of the best practices in networking allows the exploitation of this tool to our advantage. Those who actively engage with other professionals face to face and also on social platforms will gain more than those who use only one of the two ways. Other related articleHow to exploit best out of networking sites
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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Know The Machine Before You Start Firing

Career Transition Tips # 3; Know Thyself Before Choosing Right Career

In this five articles series, we have already explored the value of accepting the change of uniform from military to corporate( click here) and the overwhelming benefits of starting early for our career transition ( click here). In this third article, which is also written in the logical sequence of events during transition, we will understand what all we need to know about our-self  and what is the value in doing some homework on ourself  before we move onto finding the suitable career path for our second innings.

While many will contest this need of knowing our-self  with the statement that you've been living with yourself all life and no body knows you better than yourself and  therefore, you don’t require any discovery of yourself. The fact is that we don’t understand to the fullness who we are and what skills we have to offer. Many a times we would have come across so  many veterans who switch from one industry  domain to another on the pretext that a particular industry doesn't suit their requirements, however  they fail to first identify three issues i.e what do they like the most, what best they have to offer and which domain aligns the most with the first two requirements. The most suited industry for a person will have an environment and work requirement which is most align with skills and preferences of that person. Therefore, before we explore the web for the various career options, It’s mandatory that we do homework on our self. So what does this homework entails and how best we can do it? The answer to this question can possibly be found in answers  to a set of these five questions:-

Ø    Do you know your soft skills and hard or work content skills?

Ø    What you want to do for the rest of your life? Do you feel that you don’t want to join any hierarchical structure and you feel comfortable with independent work without any external interference? or Do you feel comfortable with hierarchical structure of the corporate organisations?

Ø   Do you know which work you like, and which you don’t and what are your favorite working conditions- team member/independent or isolation, field work/indoor work, geographical location such as urban/semi-urban/rural, weather condition in terms of cold/warm and so on ?

Ø    Are you a go –getter or you generally work at your own pace without time constrains?

Ø  Do you look forward to a busy, responsible and progressive career or you want a easy workplace having time for yourself and your family? Do you want to earn lots of money or you are happy with a limited amount?

Once you will sit down to write answers to these questions, you will find that each question has raised many more sub questions to be answered before you find answer to any one of the above mentioned five. If you find answer to the first question “ Do you know your soft and hard skills”, you will come across questions such as what have I done till now , what are my strengths and weaknesses, which areas I have expertise in, which all transferable skills I have and so many other  logical questions. Therefore, it’s a comprehensive exercise in itself before we know which career path is the most suitable path for us. It’s only when we have done this exercise on our personality, skills, interests and liabilities that we can move forward to finding which career option  is most suitable and which one is least. A career councelling can help you in self assessment and in finding the right career in your transition (click here)
Other related Articles
Listen to your heart in choosing your career

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Be The Early Bird In Planning Your Career From Military To Corporate

Career Transition Tips # 2- Start Early

                                                                                                                                                               We understood the importance of accepting the change from military to corporate in our previous        article( click here).  In this second article of this five series articles, we will understand the importance of starting early and what role it plays in the seamless transition to civil world. But before that, An exercise we all must do is to find out the right time to hang your boots. This will not only bring clarity to your thought process and allow you to prepare better for your second career but it will also prevent you from taking knee-jerk decisions during transition. We have adequately discussed the ways to find the right time to hang your boots. ( click here and here ).

 In military whenever we’re assigned with a mission or task, we generally execute the task in a meticulous and organized  manner, applying time, effort and skills in ensuring the success of it. However, we don’t apply the same process when it comes to planning our career post retirement from military; rather planning for career transition is given the least priority in our scheme of things. Why do you have to wait till the last day to see a career possibility outside. Why don’t you start preparing your career transition diligently when you have about two plus years to retire.  Although it looks like a very general point, however, if executed properly, it will pay you rich dividends in terms of progressive career and high salaried job opportunities. Starting early will place you in an unimaginable comfort zone much ahead of your counterparts who started late.  One analogy that has been most commonly heard across the board in military is that there is a lot of time in the transition and one must live in the present. This wrong analogy is the reason why many of us don’t get successful at the first hand in the corporate world and it increases the difficulties of the challenges faced by military leaders during career transition( click here) . Why we didn't apply the same analogy while preparing for staff college or some similar exams for which we start preparing a year plus in advance. Preparing for career transition is no different than preparing for staff college exams. Let’s see the disadvantages of not planning  your career early:-
  •           Unaware about the most suitable career at the time of transition, high probability of  choosing the wrong career path.
  •            Lack of knowledge about the industry and the current practices in corporate.
  •            Lack of corporate munitions such as professional certifications/GMAT score.
  •             Poor networking in corporate.
  •             Unaware of the right practices for job search.
  •        Difficulty in transformation from military to corporate and problems in translating skills  
  •         Extremely stressful career transition.

Having realized  that starting late is an extremely wrong decision and having found out the right time to hang your boots, The question arises in our mind is what is the right time to start your preparation.  The ideal time to start with serious preparation for your second career will vary from individual to individual as those who have been well connected with the corporate world, into reading about the industry practices, and networking with the right connections in corporate will probably require less time than those who have restricted their vision to four walls of military compartment. Ideally one must retouch with the  lost civilian connections irrespective of the years left in transition. Networking is the most important tool now a days for finding the right job and therefore it pays to network with the right set of people.  As a broad guideline, starting two years before your retirement will provide you the right start for your second career.  Again, It is important  that we keep our-self abreast with the issues of career switch, know the latest trends in market, and gain knowledge pertaining to your selected domain as much as possible and not wait for last two years.  

Starting early has overwhelming benefits and it gives adequate time to you to choose the right career path, gain knowledge and certifications about that career, prepare and give GMAT for MBA, network with the right people, and exercise the right job hunting practices. If you have time for your career transition, a career counseling can help you in finding the right career and how to employ your efforts in the right direction, resulting in a successful career transition( click here). To read the second article of this five article series, click here