By CAPT Scott C. Gibney, US Navy (Ret.), Co-owner Gibney College Solutions LLC
See this and more inside the July issue of Military Spouse Magazine!
Our lives have been altered in many ways since COVID-19 became a part of our vocabulary. The global shutdown of business resulted in massive unemployment and millions of Americans were stunned to find themselves scrambling to pay their bills. The crisis affected everyone — corporate employees, small business owners, gig workers — and resulted in a forced reevaluation of how careers will look going forward. And, they will be different.
Working remotely, once seen as a great way to reduce a commute, will now be required by many organizations to limit the spread of disease. This could be the norm going forward. Face-to-face interactions will also be altered, affecting the way sales representatives, hairdressers and barbers, physical therapists, and many other businesses operate. To succeed in this new environment, it will be important for military spouses to actively manage their professional lives. Here are some tips that you can implement to help with your career as we enter a new normal:
Network, Network, Network: Networking has never been a favorite activity for many career-minded individuals. Yes, everyone knows that it is important, but in reality, it is rarely done on a routine basis. But, it will be a critical component of the job search going forward. With a large percentage of individuals unemployed — or underemployed — personal contacts will be a key deciding factor in finding a new job. Over 70% of jobs are found through networking versus applying online.
Set up a Job Search Strategy: Finding a job is hard work. And, in the current climate, it will be harder since competition has increased. So, make the job search your job. Get up early, review potential opportunities, reach out to contacts, stay organized, and be flexible when it comes to the type of work you want to do. Remember, your next job doesn’t have to last forever and it might be a steppingstone to your next career.
Refine Your Career Storytelling Technique: Be prepared to answer the dreaded “tell me about yourself” question! Remember, the answer is not so much about you but instead how your past experiences can help the hiring manager. Sharing a list of your previous jobs is fine, but creating and telling the story of the key impacts of your past roles and how it specifically relates to the potential employer is a key selling attribute.
Let Everyone Know You Are Job Hunting: Don’t be embarrassed to tell people you are looking for work. You are not alone, and getting the word out that you are job searching can help find opportunities.
Create or Update Your LinkedIn Profile:
LinkedIn boasts over 600 million users and has a robust job board. Set a goal of increasing your connections by 10 or more per day. Don’t forget to include a personal message when sending the connection invite.
Customize EVERY Resume and Cover Letter:
If you apply for 10 jobs you should have 10 separate submissions that are focused on each specific opportunity. Why is this important? Because many companies utilize computer-based systems that search for keywords from the job description. To ensure your application makes it to the next level, highlight those keywords from each company in your resume and cover letter. It shows the hiring company that you are focused on them and that you have the specific skill sets necessary for the job.
Prepare for Remote Work: Many of us have found ourselves working from home for the first time. Makeshift offices — sometimes in bathrooms and windowless closets — will need to be adjusted and made permanent as remote work becomes the norm. Research ideas and incorporate them to make your working space as inviting as possible. Don’t forget to try to find a spot that can limit the amount of dog barking, family interruptions and other background noises.
The world has indeed changed in a very short period of time and the working world has changed with it. If your career has been negatively impacted by the economic crisis it is important that you continue to be proactive in managing your career. Military spouses are resilient; maintain a positive attitude, be open to different opportunities, and know that you have a great community to support you.
Captain Scott Gibney, USN (Ret.) is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and a 30-year U.S. Navy veteran. He and his wife, Susan, own Gibney College Solutions LLC (gibneysolutions.com), a company focused on college planning, career development and financial coaching. Scott can be reached at [email protected]