Is it time to get back in the job search game?

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No matter what the calendar says, for me fall begins as soon as the weather cools, the kids are back in school, and fall sports begin to dominate our house once more. This year, as you prepare to watch sports on TV, or take your kids to practices and games, maybe it?s also time for you to get back into the game. Maybe it?s time to reignite your job search by doing SPORTS.


But Amy?wouldn?t an English teacher say I should play sports, or compete in sports? Isn?t ?do sports? incorrect?

Yes and no.


Your English teacher is right, ?doing sports? isn?t grammatically correct. But I told you to do SPORTS, which is a different matter altogether. On a recent Soldier for Life Facebook Live presentation, the hosts ran a contest for the best transition assistance advice. When all of the answers poured in, the winner was clear: Do SPORTS.


S?Start early

Don?t wait until game day to plan! Every team knows that games are won and lost long before teams take the field.

Games begin on the practice field, in daily drills, in the sleep you do (or don?t) get the night before. When counseling transitioning veterans, this is by far the advice we give the most, and the advice we most wish our clients would take to heart. While most people plan for 3-12 months of transitioning, most people find that they need 18-24 months to fully transition out of the military.

The most common scenario I encounter is the transitioning military member who says, ?I?ll start when I drop my paperwork,? which turns into, ?I?ll start when I?m on terminal leave.? Once you have a tentative date in mind to leave the military, look at a calendar and backward plan from two years out.


P?Plan, and edit the plan often

It?s game day. The stands are full, you have a plan, the season is on the line... and your star player is out with the flu. Even when you have a plan, a good player and a good coach know that sometimes obstacles crop up, and you?ve got to adjust as they do?otherwise you might as well never leave the locker room. 


When it comes to your job search, your basic plan should include an ideal location, an industry, and a job function. As you apply, interview, and evaluate your options; however, small adjustments will need to be made.


If, for example, your ideal location doesn?t have the industry presence you need, or won?t offer you any opportunities for advancement, you?ll need to go back to your plan and make some adjustments to factor in the variables on the field. However, if you make your plan factoring in this time for adjustment, you?ll be better prepared to decide what your most pressing wants and needs are at the time.


O?Orient yourself

When you?re out on the field in the middle of a game, you?re constantly monitoring and assessing your situation. You know where you are in the game, whether you?re ahead or behind, how much time you have left on the clock, and the plays that you still have up your sleeve.


In the job market, you need to be similarly aware. When you?re applying for jobs or going in for an interview, it?s important to orient yourself within the market or at that company. Know the industry expectations you?re meant to work within, have a sense of the kind of five-year-plan that might appeal to the company, and research anticipated salaries for the position you?re applying for. When you?re applying to several positions, take time at the end of each week to simply analyze how things are going. How many jobs did you apply for, how many interviews did you get, and how many contacts did you make? 


R?Reach out

Sports teams have coaches for a good reason. Players need someone who can observe what is happening in the game, someone who can give them advice so they can perform better (and without getting injured). The job market, much like the locker room, is always a good place for a pep talk?words of wisdom from someone who can tell you where you?re most valuable, and where you?re missing the mark. CASY & MSCCN have Employment Specialists who are available to help you improve your game plan, and your personal network is a vital means to find new jobs and opportunities!


BE CREATIVE. When the standard plays aren?t getting the job done, coaches and players have to step up and step out of their comfort zone. When things aren?t going the way you want them to in the job market, it?s time to take a risk. Explore a different industry, search further outside your target area, contact someone through social media, go to a trade association event?the possibilities are endless.


S?Sell yourself

It?s true, sports teams often have cheerleaders to get a buzz going in the stands. But sometimes it?s worth noting: you need to be able to cheer for yourself. Tell yourself that you?re doing a good job. Remind yourself of the assets you bring to the table. Go out to an interview dressed to impress, confident in your skills and your worth. Know your audience, and what will make them cheer?but also remember that you have skills and a story worth cheering about.


Perhaps Helen Rowland, an American journalist, said it best: ?You will never win if you never begin.? It?s time to get out of the stands and back on the field. You have a victory in your future, as long as you get out there and get going! 


Amy Rossi