6 Great Blogs To Subscribe To For Career Transition Guidance

Career change is almost never easy, but it can be simplified in some instances. From mid 2012 to nearly the end of 2014, I was on an unrelenting career transition journey, as I transformed from active duty military service member to where I am today. Throughout that time I needed guidance, sound advice, inspiration, and some times just a good story to read. The six blogs listed below gave me all of that and more. I’m hoping they can do the same for you.

1-CAREEREALISM:

The belief at CAREEREALISM is that every job is temporary. That’s why it’s so important to stay informed and to keep learning, growing, acquiring new skills, and relationship building. CAREEREALISM produces an exclusive Recruiter Directory, publishes a daily career insights newsletter, and presents “sneak peeks” articles with the inside scoop about employers to help you find a workplace that fits you best.

2-UDACITY:

Want to learn how to be considered “in demand” as a job seeker? Are you pondering an effective entry into the world of technology professionals? Well then this is the blog for you. Better yet, one of UDACITY’s Nanodegree programs may just be the solution you need to fix your income stream. Gain highly desired credentials that are built and recognized by industry leaders such as Google and General Electric. Check out UDACITY’s blog for further details.

3-TASK & PURPOSE:

This is a great news and culture site, primarily focused on providing a platform to amplify the voices of millennial American veterans. If you’re seeking amazing stories to motivate you, challenge your perceptions, intrigue healthy debate, or simply to lighten your mood, then Task & Purpose should become a go-to source for you.

4-MELISSAWASHINGTON.COM:

As a fellow military veteran, Melissa Washington is an outstanding advocate for women and veterans in the labor market. In fact, she is the Founder and Director at Women Veterans Alliance. She is also the author of “Get Back to Work”, a book on real-world strategic career moves to put you ahead of your competitors.

5-AMERICANDREAMU.ORG:

As put simply on its website, American Dream U is committed to empowering those that serve. The site provides a ton of free resources, mentor networks, and a calendar of its signature events like VETRACON. Founder Phil Randazzo, a serial entrepreneur and investor, is a genuine proponent of active duty military members, veterans, and spouses finding their dream job and/or entrepreneur resources.

6-G.I. JOBS:

Coming out of active duty Air Force in 2012, G.I. Jobs is what I primarily consumed for inspiration and information. The stories are highly motivational, the employer profiles are deeply insightful, and the extra tools provided were critical to my eventual career change successes (i.e. the pay calculator, the interview survival kit, and the transition readiness quiz).

I look at career transition as a never-ending journey. In that mindset, I also pursue perpetual development as a professional. That’s why I’m subscribed to all six of the above mentioned blogs, and why I’m also a contributing writer to several of them. They each provide value in exchange for your time and attention.

Resilience Over Brilliance

Didn’t graduate with a 4.0 GPA? Is your degree not from a top Ivy League institution? Are you not fluent in seven different computer programming languages already? Well, I guess you’re screwed then, huh? Or at least that’s what some people are being misled to believe as they search for a new mission and career path.

This is not being written to demean our society’s brilliant scholars, or to act as if “smarts” don’t matter. But, it’s time for society to get back to respecting and honoring good old fashion merit, hard work, and resilience. In such a volatile, unrelenting, ambiguous economic climate, what asset is more vital than resilience? Last I checked, the one common thing that lead to success for the likes of Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie was resilience.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), resilience is defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It is essentially “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

Like any learned skill, resilience requires some renewing and refreshing from time to time. Maintaining great resilience can help protect us from depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. It can also offset physical illness and injury. That said, here are FOUR WAYS TO BUILD & MAINTAIN RESILIENCE:

  1. NETWORK/MAKE CONNECTIONS – first, as much as is within your control, maintain a strong support system. This is your base for survival in life, and it requires as much from you as you demand from it. Bond with family, friends and close associates on a regular basis. Make those phone calls, write those emails, go out for lunch and coffee. Whatever it takes, keep nurturing those relationships. Beyond your support system, build bridges through new connections to get where you aspire to be.
  2. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF – maintain an active physical fitness routine, to care for your physical aspect. Just as important is the state of your mind and spirit, which can benefit from active prayer, meditation, yoga, or whatever form of inner-exercise you deem best for you (to me, prayer is the most powerful of all).
  3. KEEP THINGS IN PROPER PERSPECTIVE – always remember that life goes in cycles. This means that any negative experience you may have can and should be only temporary. During those times of adversity, count your blessings. Look at everything good around you, and appreciate the little things. This should help keep you balanced and hope filled.
  4. VOLUNTEER – why? Because volunteering will keep you humble and grateful, regardless of any struggles you might experience during times of transition. As the old saying goes, “do unto others as you want done unto you”. Give, and your hand is open to receive. But that’s beside the point. Helping others is great for the heart and soul.

If you’re still finding ways to persevere in life, in spite of any setbacks, then your resilience is already proven. Talk it up as one of your most valuable skills. It should definitely be listed as a keyword on your resume. Take care, be resilient, adapt and overcome.

Most Valuable Workplace Advice for 2015: Relate Interviewing to Sales

In 2015 it is imperative to understand that mastering the process of interviewing is the deal-maker or deal-breaker. As candidates vying for various employment opportunities, we’re all selling something: our time and our skills. Therefore, I find it highly effective to relate interviewing to sales.

If interviewing is a sales process, then there has to be a customer, and that customer is the potential employer. We all have the challenging task of convincing said customer that our time (which is our product) and our skills (which is our service) are the absolute best buying option in regards to return-on-investment. Here’s how to transform routine interviews into deal-sealing sales meetings:

Conduct “Customer Discovery”

Simply put, do your research beforehand, and take detailed notes. Know what your customer (the potential employer) needs, and understand their mindset. What problems are persisting, and how can you come in and help solve them? Develop a contact list and start initiating conversations with people currently in the organization, as well as those who were previously with the organization. ASK QUESTIONS! Find out about the workplace culture. Is it healthy, or is it toxic? Is it people first, or profit first? Is the team diversified? These are some key things you want to know before even considering making a pitch.

Rehearse Your Pitch

Practice makes improvement, and repetition builds confidence through muscle-memory. Pretend like you’re rehearsing to land a part in your favorite TV show or something, just to liven it up a bit. You want strong positive energy and an assertive presence. Having your pitch perfected enables you the chance to take control of the entire situation.

Distinguish Yourself From Your Competition

Why should you be hired over the countless other candidates? Please don’t say things like, “I’m the hardest worker you’ll ever meet”. Be more specific, with statements such as, “I saved my recent employer ‘X’ amount of dollars last year”, or “I won employee of the month 3 times because of my dedication to accomplishing the mission with a great attitude every day”.

Anticipate Objections – Prepare Responses

Expect some level of pushback, and be prepared to counteract it. Don’t let the moment escape without a valiant effort to end the customer’s search. Convince them that you are the right buy, and that there’s no need to look elsewhere. Give certainty where they have doubts, and clarity where any confusion exist.

Ask For The Business = Close The Sale

Do not walk away from the customer without asking them to close the sale. If they’re hesitant to make an on-the-spot choice, then be sure to get from them a definite time and date by which you will receive a final decision. Your time is as valuable as theirs, so there’s no need to waste any.

Go forth and conquer. Adapt and overcome. If your resume gets you in the door, but you’re still hunting for employment, then I hope this message is a timely solution. If you grasp the concepts of sales, then interviewing will truly become a breezy process for you. Interviewing = Sales, and Sales = $.

BYLINE:

Lex R. Brown II is a freelance writer, blogger, and podcaster residing in Memphis, TN. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force and of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Follow Lex on Twitter @lexRbrown.

Forging Ahead…

Conquering career transition can be both brutal & rewarding. I’m writing a book to help military vets win either way. By end of summer 2015 I’m going to publish a comprehensive guide to conquering career transition, specifically tailored for military veterans. This is an independent endeavor, so your support is very welcomed and highly needed. Whether you pre-order 1 or more copies or just help promote the campaign, your efforts can help get this book into the hands/onto the tablets of tens of thousands of unemployed & under-employed transitioning military service members.

Just check out/share this link: https://publishizer.com/forging-ahead/

ForgingAhead-BookCover

Make a Good Decision, Learn from It, and Move Forward

David Cummings on Startups

Recently I was talking to a friend and he said he had no interest in being an entrepreneur. Curious, I asked why. There was one simple reason: he didn’t like to make decisions with limited information. As an entrepreneur, so many decisions have to be made with little or no data and lots of gut instinct. For many people, especially perfectionists, making those kinds of decisions over and over is terrifying.

For me, I like to keep in mind that I’m trying to make a good decision, learn from it, and move forward. Here are a few thoughts on entrepreneurial decision making:

  • Perfect information never exists, never
  • Limited information is normal, and often good enough to make quality decisions
  • Almost all decisions aren’t permanent (thankfully!)
  • Constantly learning and adapting is key to get to the right answer
  • Moving forward is better than standing still

When the next decision is required on limited information, make…

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Top S.B.L. Blog Posts of 2014

2014 was a pivotal year. Lots of challenges presented themselves, but by the grace of The Most High we made it into 2015. I’d like to thank all who continue to support my blog site. I do my best to write meaningful and useful posts, and will continue to step my game up in 2015. As we move forward, here’s a quick look back at 5 of my most read posts in 2014:

1. WHY MEMPHIS? – https://solutionsbylex.com/2014/08/18/why-memphis/

2. WHY COFFEE SHOPS ARE BETTER THAN GOLF COURSES FOR SMALL BUSINESS DEALS – https://solutionsbylex.com/2014/08/04/why-coffee-shops-are-better-than-golf-courses-for-small-business-deals/

3. WHAT TEACHING 2ND GRADERS IN SUMMER SCHOOL TAUGHT ME ABOUT TRUE LEADERSHIP – https://solutionsbylex.com/2014/07/21/what-teaching-2nd-graders-in-summer-school-taught-me-about-true-leadership/

4. LEADERSHIP STYLE – https://solutionsbylex.com/2014/01/10/leadership-style/

5. THE INEVITABLE NUMBERS GAME IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP – https://solutionsbylex.com/2014/06/02/the-inevitable-numbers-game-in-entrepreneurship/

Sound Advice for Businesses with Stupid Billing Policies

Make it easy for people to change their preferences or cancel the service, so they don’t leave angry. “It engenders a negative brand perception if you make customers pick up the phone and wait in line to stop paying you.”

-Michael Dublin, CEO of Dollar Shave Club

Above is some sound advice for business owners to strongly consider. Recently, as a customer, I’ve experienced the frustration of dealing with a business that makes it difficult to cancel its services. The business I’m speaking of in particular is a fitness club called French Riviera Spa, and I’m annoyed at their stupid billing policies.

First, I take responsibility for signing their membership contract, without thoroughly examining the terms as I usually do with any contract before endorsing. Second, I comprehend and respect the need to protect one’s business from potential loss of revenue. But, and excuse my language, “it’s a damn gym”! Should I choose to cancel and move on then, at most, charge me for an extra month and let’s keep it moving. But the worst thing to do is what French Riviera Spa did: attempt to shackle me to a service that I no longer desire.

Why am I writing about this? Well, besides venting, I viewed this incident from an entrepreneurial perspective. Because I travel, sometimes I join different fitness clubs depending on my location at a given time. When able, I try to stick to a consistent fitness club brand. If  I happen to return to a particular location, then I go back and join a fitness club that I may have once left. Well, needless to say, there’s not ever a chance of me rejoining as a member of French Riviera Spa, a sentiment that I’ve come to find out is shared by quite a few previous members.

My point overall is, this particular fitness club has completely ruined an opportunity to gain repeat business from me and others in the future, due to utterly ridiculous billing policies. I am not one to be shackled, and most people feel the same way. Of course I found a way out of their policy, and I am warning others to not join such a club unless it changes its billing policies. If you own and operate a business, I hope that you will not make the same mistake. Follow the sound advice of Michael Dublin, and make it simple for people to change their preferences or cancel the service.

TECHcamp Memphis 2014

TechCampTeeshirt

 

 

 

 

TECHcamp Memphis 2014 was a unique and enhancing experience. Although there is some room for the event to improve (I’ll touch more on that shortly), I honestly appreciated this conference, particularly as a newcomer to the Memphis area. I learned quite a bit, just in the first few hours. My favorite session was run by Stephen Hackett of RelayFM. In 4 short years this guy has become a podcast guru, and in the first 20 minutes of his presentation he inspired me to revisit, restructure, re-brand and eventually relaunch my own podcast concept. Not only did he share the story of his successes, but he also gave some detailed insight on how he’s managed to monetize his podcast craft. If you’re a podcast fan, or interested in starting your own, I highly encourage you to follow Stephen Hackett on twitter (@ismh) for more information.

The event’s introductory keynote speech as given by Juan R. “Chago” Santiago, Vice President of Systems Engineering Practice and Business Intelligence at CIO Services Group. He is very motivational and encouraging, identifying his attitude as his number one asset and reason for his long-enduring success in technology. I whole-heartedly agree with his statement that “obstacles and challenges are just opportunities for growth”.

My other favorite session was with Mr. Al Pickett, Vice President of Diversity at Start Co. in Memphis, TN. He presented his “Business Model Canvas” concept for the entrepreneur track. Al Pickett is also author of “The Blackprint: New Rules for Winning – Finance, Freedom, and Flexibility“.

My 2 Cents on Future Improvements:

* More Lead Time/Stronger Marketing Campaign: I found out 2 days prior from a friend about the event. Up to that point I hadn’t noticed any social media promotions or any other form of advertisement. This to me is why the turn-out wasn’t as robust as it should’ve been

* 30-Minute Sessions instead of 1-Hour Sessions: Yes most attendees are full-on geeks and techies, but that doesn’t change the natural attention-span of most people. Give the same great material but in smaller doses of time.

* Cooler Tee-Shirt Design: This might seem nit-picky, but this is something I see as an opportunity to form a stronger bond between the tech community and the art community. Why not have local artists submit competing designs, and then have potential attendees vote on which design they want as an incentive to show up and as part of the promotional efforts leading up to the event? This improvement may also help to diversify the crowds who attend in the future.

Authentic Talent Management

The struggle is real! The disparity between existing skill-sets and the plethora of open jobs on the market is extreme. Most people, even those who possess college degrees, do not have the subject-matter-expertise that many organizations are currently seeking. Or, at least that’s what the primary message is throughout society.

I think a more accurate view is that most people, and their resumes, do not effectively communicate their skill-sets and experience in a way that translates directly into what companies are looking to hire for. There are so many different layouts, lingos, standards and preferences across industries and company cultures, that crafting an efficient resume has become as challenging as the job hunt itself.

On top of that, it seems that almost all recruiting and staffing is being outsourced. This is normally an additional hurdle to get over in the process. However, when dealing with authentic talent management, a true professional helps to decipher the cryptic language of employers needs, while effectively translating what you have to offer into a clear winning pick for employers to roll the dice on.

So, what’s my point? I have three. Point one: DO NOT GO IT ALONE! If you’re just posting your resume on monster.com, simplyhired.com, indeed.com, and other online job boards without a direct point of contact, then you are truly wasting your time and energy. Point two: not just any recruiter will do. You need to vet these recruiters in the same manner that they’re going to vet you for potential employers. Check their background as much as you can. Do they possess any knowledge themselves on the field you’re competing in? What is their placement rate? How long do they typically take to place their job candidates? And so on. Point three: make a genuine connection and build an on-going working relationship with the right recruiter, once you find him or her.

We are alive in some trying times, but, where there’s a will there’s a way. And, where there’s faith, there’s even more in store. Just keep in mind that faith without works is dead (James 2:20), and social media without genuine connection doesn’t allow for eye contact and hand shakes. What does that mean? It means to get up from behind that phone, tablet or computer, and go out and shake some hands while looking folks square in the eyes. That is how you will surely find your next great opportunity.

Ways to Boost Your Earning Potential

Here’s a few recommendations on how to advance your earnings and enhance your overall worth –

FREELANCE: Working independently is challenging but very gratifying and amazing. Here are some sources to help you get started, or to enhance your capabilities and reach if you’re already freelancing – Catchafire.org (a great way to use your professional skills to make a difference in society); FreelancersUnion.org (connect with other freelancers, access free resources and link into a national benefits platform); and HowToBeSelfEmployed.com (an online community and great support)

CONTINUE LEARNING: Education is the great monetizer. In other words, learning more often equals earning more. And sometimes you don’t even have to spend money to learn. All you need to invest is time and effort, with sources like www.gibbon.co, www.instructables.com, www.lifehacker.com, www.coursera.org, and www.codecademy.com

WORK PART-TIME AT HOME: Check out companies like “Convergys“, and dig through websites such as www.FlexJobs.com to find the right work-from-home job for you and your situation. What you’ll primarily need to operate is: an operable, fast and reliable computer; a dedicated, wired internet connection; a call-center style headset; and a clear, free-of-distractions workspace in your home

LOOK UP & AHEAD: Examine job descriptions of positions ahead of yours, and then make sure that you have what it takes to perform that job. Pay particular attention to the skills and contributions required of that position, and then empower yourself accordingly