When you are looking for a veteran job, do you network more like Groot, Professor X or Dr. Strange? Your technique matters. As the transition master coach for Military.com's Veteran Employment Project, I see more Groots on the job hunt than anything else.
Which is good in some ways. I love Groot in the same tender, googly eyed way I love all transitioning military members, veterans and spouses. So strong. So noble. So capable. So adorable at every age.
You Are Not Groot
There is only one problem. When it comes to networking into a job -- an essential skill for most white-collar workers -- the Groot technique does not work.
I'm not saying you will hear a job-seeking veteran saying, "I am Groot." Instead, veterans on the job hunt repeat their own phrases in the civilian multiverse, such as, "I am a transitioning naval officer." Or, "I'm a command sergeant major with a 30-year career in the Army." Or, just plain, "I'm a veteran."
Just like Groot, veterans think they are speaking a complete language. To others of their own species, they are. Inside military culture, we all know exactly what these job-seeking veterans mean because we know what skills it takes to get to that level. We know the sacrifice. We know the persistence. We know the competition.
To everyone else in the civilian multiverse -- civilian recruiters and hiring managers and potential co-workers -- those phrases sound a lot like, "I am Groot." That does not help anyone find a job. It leaves all the Groots sitting on a hillside contemplating their roots and wondering why they are not getting interviews.
Need a quick way to get past your aversion to networking and find a job fast? Sign up for our newest master class, New Year, New Career, on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 4 p.m. EST with expert input from Western Governors University..We have an exclusive Veteran Employment Project tool that makes networking work for you.
What's the Problem with Veterans and Networking?
The solution to the problem is to network more effectively. In military culture, however, we are so resistant to the idea of networking, even though the majority of Americans find their jobs through weak ties in their network.
After working with more than 16,000 job-seeking veterans, military members and spouses, I think a lot of the problem we have with effectively networking into a job is centered around the flawed idea of networking most of us carry in military life.
We think networking is something that works only for the truly pure of heart, such as Captain America. Or for those with some kind of unbeatable, enviable weapon, such as Thor.
More pervasive is the belief that networking is the kind of shady activity that is done by a genius character, such as Professor X, leader of the X-Men. We think of someone who is "networking" as a sketchy guy sitting in front of his big machine, searching the globe and finding more mutants. Getting inside their minds. Controlling their actions. Achieving dominance in a three-piece suit.
Some military networkers are like this. They are usually the influencers telling people how to use LinkedIn to reach out to "anyone." It can sound a little off-putting.
So let me suggest that you resolve to be a lot more like Dr. Strange in this situation. Think about it. During transition, you are occupying your own Multiverse of Madness. To save the universe, you are required to look at what seems like 14 million versions of the next you, then figure out which one of those paths is going to work.
You need to use your own superpower in this case, which is not astral projection, teleportation or transmutation. Instead, you are going to use the networking skills you honed through years in the military.
I know you don't think you learned networking skills. You think the skills you learned were leading people, operating heavy equipment, creating clean water out of thin air and making the world a safer place for us all.
But your real skills are superpowers, such as communicating your position, understanding where other people are, realizing what they need, figuring out how to get it to them, working with teams of odd characters, understanding the breadth of motivations, sensing the source of power and getting to yes. These are networking skills.
When you reach out to the people you know, and the people they know, and the companies that are looking for you, you can use these skills to demonstrate how you and your skills would help their team in the multiverse.
Take Our Free Master Class and Network Naturally into a Job
So take our newest free master class, New Year, New Career, this Thursday, Jan. 25, at 4 p.m. EST (or sign up to get the free video to watch whenever you want). I will teach you a simple method on how to work through your network with all the otherworldly intelligence of Dr. Strange, Professor X and Groot combined.
Jacey Eckhart is Military.com's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website, SeniorMilitaryTransition.com. Reach her at Jacey.Eckhart@Monster.com.
Find Your Next Job Fast
Transitioning military, veterans and spouses may be qualified for the job, but they are missing the secrets of civilian hiring. Find out everything you need to know with our FREE master class series, including our next class. You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.