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Dr. Matthew Fleming Stephenson is known as the person who may have said, “There’s gold in them thar hills!” encouraging miners to seek gold in Georgia rather than head to California during the Gold Rush back in 1800s.

 

You’ve struck gold in a way, and might not even know it, yet.

 

When it comes to managing your career while in uniform, you have plenty of golden resources and people in support of all the human resources component stuff. For example, all those personnel management activities such as; personnel records, training throughout your military career, performance evaluations, and pay and promotions can be easily identified to anyone in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard. You cannot escape this massive administrative arm of the military, but you need to capture the “hidden benefits” found within this important part of the military career management system.

 

Why? Because one day you’ll make that military-to-civilian career transition. All these career information programs, systems, and processes can help you once you become a veteran in ways you may have never thought of.

 

In this blog post, I’m going to show you how to turn “GOLD” into a “GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY”. Before you run out and travel to Alaska, Canada, or Guyana to start a mining operation, keep in mind the “GOLD” consists of pages found in your official military personnel files. I’m talking about the military schools you went to along with the evaluations you received. In addition, it is possibly a performance evaluation that demonstrates the value you bring. It could be an award you received and the details written about what your accomplishments.

 

Take a moment to think about the vast amount of personnel management resources you have at your disposal. Everything you do while in the military is documented. Every class you take results in a recap of your academic performance. Every training class results in an evaluation. Your performance – physical or work-related – gets systematic and periodic “ink-to-paper” with detailed analysis and review of your actions and how well you carried out your job.

 

This my friends, is GOLD!

 

Consider your personnel file as a treasure map with all your skills and experiences. Here are three ways to uncover “precious metal” to help you land your next position:

 

  • As you make the Military-to-Civilian career transition

    One of the toughest things transitioning troops need help with is translating military skills into civilian equivalents. It’s a known fact, but if you’re just starting your military-to-civilian career transition, this is one of the first things you learn.

    With all the available personal personnel information at your disposal, you need to get real cozy with ALL of your documentation. You lived it, but can you explain what it is in plain civilian terms? I cannot emphasize enough the fact that the depth of experience you gained while in uniform will only be as valuable as your ability to articulate what it all means. You need to become an expert on what you did and how it benefits the company that hires you.

    Use this information to market yourself to the company you wish to work for. This means making copies of everything and spending some hours figuring out which parts make sense to share with which opportunities – and keep in mind that will not involve a “cookie cutter” approach. You need to customize your documentation to meet the needs of each individual interview and company and job opportunity.

 

  • If you want to get hired by a huge company

    Having worked for the Armed Forces, you’re used to this elaborate system of personnel management. You know what happens at basic training. You know how you get evaluated. You know the role of both leader and follower. You know which documents support your career. You know what it’s like to sit down with your supervisor and talk about how you’re doing. You know what it’s like to sit down with a subordinate and discuss the same.

    In a huge company, a lot of the same exact activities take place. There should be few to no surprises here. Your job is to make the connections to how this worked in military circles to how it works in this big huge company. The faster you do this, the more valuable you can become. Imagine getting an evaluation from someone who has never written one. You have this hidden gem of experience that can strike gold in a huge company. You have experience in this personnel management in more ways than you think, so maximize this fact.

 

  • If you want to get hired by a Start-Up

    Finally, the third scenario that your personnel management experience can benefit you is in a ground-floor opportunity. Start-Up companies operate as very mean & lean enterprises. The entire human resources office for a fledgling company might consist of just one person. Want to be a stand-out at a Start-Up? Bring your experience in writing evaluations, conducting performance reviews, submitting awards, counseling your direct reports, and hiring new employees to a growing company and watch how your value increases.

    Does the company need a system for documenting academic performance during a training class? You have examples. Does the company need to train newly promoted Managers on how to conduct goal-setting? You’re ready to step in and help. Need someone to teach a class on how to coach a struggling employee to reach the standards? You get the idea.

 

OK, now that you know a little bit about how your personnel management experience might come into play as a Veteran, now it’s time to get busy collecting and reviewing all the various documents that tell your personal personnel story.

 

Go for the GOLD!

 

Have something to add to this post? Share your advice below.

 

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