Leaving the Military and get a job that doesn’t suck: Know yourself and find your perfect path

My aim here is to make things easy, why bust a gut on 12 mile march in full combat gear when you can achieve the same results jogging around the park in your Nikes!

Face facts and ‘grow a pair’ – (Please note this is not a male thing, women also have a pair)

The date is fast approaching and there is nothing you can do about it and the sooner you accept that fact the better. You are about to enter a civilian world and you cannot change it into a military one. You have already proven that you ‘have a pair’ by your military service, now just continue to use that pair as you have in the past. As I moved up through the 6 different ranks from Private to Warrant Officer I changed job 10 times in 24 years.

With each new job came different roles, responsibilities and training. Although there are many challenges moving from a military job to a civilian one you have the experience of changing jobs many times throughout your career. The only difference between a military job and civilian one is that in a civilian job your uniform is different. You were most likely trained for the different appointments and roles you played in your military jobs and you will be required to train for your civilian jobs as well, why would you think any different? One main advantage you have over your civilian counterparts is your adaptability and capacity to be trained and change roles. Maintain the same drive and enthusiasm that helped you climb the Military ranks and you will be successful in whatever civilian role you set your mind too. If you feel your pair shrinking and you want to roll up into a ball and feel sorry for yourself read the book ‘Grow a Pair’ by Larry Winget. This straight-talking, New York Times bestseller will help you get back on track for sure. If you’ve ‘lost your pair’ uncle Larry will help you find them.

Establish your direction – I joined the military when I was a spotty 16 year old youth. I would love to say I joined because I wanted to proudly serve my country but that would be a crock. Like many young Scottish men and women in 1978 I joined to secure a job and avoid unemployment. Was I suited to a military career and lifestyle at that time? Probably not, however strict discipline, training and operational deployments trumps unemployment and poverty any day of the week. As I moved up through the ranks and my job changed with each rank and appointment I discovered that some military jobs suited me better than others, but I never really thought why. I loved being outdoors and training troops but hated being stuck at a desk, in an office, writing reports and completing files and paperwork.

My current job working in the employment field has shed some light on why some jobs suit some people better than others. My post-military training in career consultancy and employment counselling has taught me that the jobs in which we excel are those that closely matched our personality type. One employment planning tool that I find extremely useful, particularly with clients who are unsure of which career path to take, is the ‘Self Directed Search’ (SDS).


The SDS tool produces a report that explains the user’s personality type and corresponding ‘SDS Summary Code’ (Holland code) and also generates a list of jobs, hobbies and interests that matches that Summary Code.  The SDS website has a section specifically for ‘Veteran and Service members’. This section allows you to explore career options that correspond to your military experience. Used in conjunction with the SDS Summary Code, the Veterans and Military Occupations Finder can:

Help clients explore career options by linking military occupation titles with civilian occupation titles.
Match each individual’s Summary Code to Occupational Information Network (O*NET) career options and required education levels.
Helps active-duty personnel—or those considering the military—to better understand how military paths career may relate to civilian career options.

The ‘Self Directed Search’ is an excellent tool for military personnel who are unsure of which employment field to enter as it allows them to better understand the types of skills and activities they have honed while in the military and to explore civilian occupations that require similar skills. If you are unsure of which direction to head or simply want to explore different career options use the SDS. It is certainly worth the $10 (Canadian) dollar investment.

In phase 2 (blog 2) we will narrow down your options and help identify the best career choice for ‘you’.

This post is the second in a series of blogs relating to finding work after the military. Author David Quinn is currently a student in the Career Consultant Certificate Program offered at Mohawk College. Be sure to follow MCACESBlogs, a series of posts assisting job seekers and their peers with the many facets of work search and professional development. Happy reading!military work


Get a Job Search Wingman

Don’t you wish you knew someone who could get you out of awkward networking situations? Like when you forgot an important contact’s name or when you tried to speak to a manager with a mouth full of cocktail shrimp?

How about for all those lonely hours spent in a darkened room on the computer staring at job sites until your eyes go bloodshot, or for when your family and friends try to delicately change the subject every time you start on one of your rants about the lack of jobs in your industry…well here’s the answer, find yourself a job search wingman or wingwoman!

Just to be clear, your “wingman” doesn’t have to be looking for the same position, however, being in a similar industry would definitely help since they’d have a good idea what you’re looking for and could vouch for your skills. Now bringing them to interviews or cold-calling visits is still a BIG no-no, but your “wingman” can still offer other kinds of support:

  1. They can share tips on job search sites and openings. It’s like you have an extra pair of eyes looking on your behalf.
  2. Together you’ll feel more confident going to networking events, plus two working a room gathering tips and information is better then one. Just don’t remain joined at the hip!
  3. Prepare for interviews together. Watch each other’s body language, rambling answers and relevancy to your industry.
  4. They can help edit your resume or cover letter when the words start to blur together in a frustrating jumble.

    Getting a Job Search Wingman can take your job search to new heights!

    Getting a Job Search Wingman can take your job search to new heights!

  5. Celebrate your successes and let out your frustrations. Another job-seeker is going to have more sympathy and understanding than family/friends who may mean well but sometimes just don’t get it!

Now don’t you wish you could have a “wingman” for all things in life!

Elaine Logie is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario Canada. Like what you read? Be sure to check out MCACESBlogs often for tips, tools and techniques for the work of find work! Happy reading!

What’s Your Brand?

I am not an avid Coke drinker by any means but during the holidays I cannot resist purchasing a six pack of those little glass bottles of dark, sweet, caffeinated liquid!  And even though we become inundated with the holiday polar bear commercials, this is not what provokes me into making the purchase, either.

What is it then, you might ask?  Well, it’s the way that those little glass bottles make me feel.  That’s right, drinking soda from glass bottles elicits a feeling of sheer, unadulterated happiness that reminds me of my childhood.

Coca Cola wasn’t even my drink of choice as a kid; it was Cream Soda by The PopShop, for crying out loud!  But, soda in any kind of glass bottle brings me immediately back to the carefree days of my youth when during ‘special occasions, we popped the cap of any icy cold bottle of pop and drank in its syrupy goodness!  So, kudos to Coca Cola and their brilliant job at branding!

Branding is not a product, a logo or a mission statement.  A brand is how a person feels about a product, service or organization.  Strong brands like Apple, Google and Coca Cola are all highly credible, high quality brands that promote a general feeling of trust and security amongst consumers.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you yourself could convey that kind of feeling to an employer?! Well…you CAN!  It’s called Personal Branding.   Start by developing a brief statement that communicates who you are, what you are looking for and how you can benefit an employer.

Often referred to as “the 30 second elevator speech”, this pitch is like a mini commercial about yourself!  Practice this statement often so that it comes across naturally when you are networking or introducing yourself to prospective employers.

Continue to build your brand through a professional resume, a portfolio, and don’t forget your online image!  Be consistent and work to maintain your brand. A strong, clear brand can help you become known for what you are good at and hopefully set you apart from everyone else!

coca cola

“…drinking soda from glass bottles elicits a feeling of sheer, unadulterated happiness that reminds me of my childhood.”

Karen Cake is a student from the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON. For more information about the Career Consultant Certificate Program, or how MCACES helps students with Employment Advisement, please contact Lidia Siino, Program Manager at lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.

Networking Tree

networking tree

Read our tips on how to cultivate your network!

Networking. What kind of image does this word conjure up for you? If you’re like me, you probably imagine having to schmooze with higher-ups in suits at stuffy after work functions. Not exactly fun! Now before you break into a cold sweat, I’ll let you in on a little known secret, networking is actually not that hard or scary.

It’s all in your approach. Just think of each part of the process as corresponding to the growth of a tree. First, you need to plant your seed, take care and nurture your tree, then through persistence you will be reaping the fruits of your labours!

1. Research (planting the seed)

2. Cultivation (tending your tree)

3. Persistence (harvesting your leads)

Planting the seed

Think of research as the beginning stages of growth. Take for example the field of medical administration. If you are interested in getting into that field, you will need to research medical establishments then find the administrators or HR persons’ contact information at those companies. Once you have collected several contacts, you will need to make a cold-call. This is the hardest part of networking, but fear not most contacts will appreciate your efforts and may even be flattered that you view them as leaders in their field. When you are ready to call keep the following in mind:

  1. Introduce yourself and explain why you are calling i.e. For advice regarding getting into the medical admin field. Make sure you are not interrupting your potential contact. If the person doesn’t have time ask when they may be available. Don’t push and always be respectful!
  2. If they are available to talk, make sure you have some well-researched questions ready to ask. You are making an impression so make it positive!
  3. If the conversation goes well and the contact is helpful thank them for their time. You can also send them an “official” thank you card or letter if you want.

Tending your networking tree

Now that your contact is no longer “cold” you’ll need to cultivate the relationship to keep it “hot.” This is accomplished through staying in touch. You need to remind your contacts that you are available and still looking for work. Do this through follow-up emails or calls for advice or answers to any follow-up questions you may have regarding the field. Be careful not to call too much…you don’t want to become bothersome!

Harvesting your leads

Contacts or leads may bear fruit through persistent cultivation. Even if a contact may not have job leads at their company, they may hear of positions opening up at other companies and let you know. When you have a positive relationship with your contact they may even be willing to be a reference person, which will prove very handy especially if you are a new grad or changing careers.

Whether your networking tree is a sapling or a mighty oak, it’s important to set aside your fears and start the growing process!

Elaine Logie is a student studying within the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON. For more information about the Career Consultant Certificate Program, or how MCACES helps students with Employment Advisement, please contact Lidia Siino, Program Manager at lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.

MCACES Job Search Expo November 12-14!

MCACES is pleased to announce our 4th annual Job Search Expo! Our event features the following:

Express Résumé Critiquing Sign up to have your résumé critiqued by industry trained student professionals from the Career Consultant Certificate Program!

Résumé Drop Box Don’t have time for a critiquing? Drop off your résumé and an experienced Employment Advisor will follow up with you!

Professional Development Resources Learn the ins and outs of effective

November 12-14, 6pm-9pm at the MCACES Resource Centre

job search with the latest resources, tip sheets and information

Personal Branding Information Sessions Branding is the latest trend with job search. Find out how to make yourself more marketable!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the MCACES Job Search Expo? The MCACES Job Search Expo is an annual event held by the Mohawk College Association of Continuing Education Students (MCACES). This event assists Continuing Education students with information on how to search for a job while promoting MCACES and the Employment Advisement Program.

Should I attend every night? Our Job Search Expo is held for three evenings in order to maximize participation. Participants are encouraged to attend a night that best suits their schedule.

What can I Expect?

Our Job Search Expo offers participants a variety of activities including: 

  • Express Résumé Critiquing
  • Express Résumé Drop Box
  • Personal Branding Presentation
  • Professional Development Resources
  • Refreshments and giveaways

You are welcome to take part in any activities that interest you.

What is Express Résumé Critiquing? Students are welcome to have their résumé critiqued by students from the Career Consultant Certificate program. Booking times are available Monday November 12, Tuesday, November 13, and Wednesday November 14 at 6:00pm, 6:30pm, 7:00pm, 7:30pm, 8:00pm and 8:30pm each of these nights. Registrations are encouraged.

How long does Express Résumé Critiquing take? Generally, Express Résumé Critiquing is booked in 25 minute sessions.

How can I sign up for Express Résumé Critiquing? Please contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at Lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca or 905-575-1212 ext. 3576.

What is the Express Résumé Drop Box? Beginning Monday October 29, the MCACES Resource Centre will be accepting Student résumés for the Express résumé Drop Box. Simply drop off a copy of your résumé in our drop box (located in Room F114) at any time and arrange to have it picked up during the Expo or at a later date.

What is Personal Branding? Personal Branding is a popular new career development strategy. Be sure to watch our presentation on Personal Branding playing at the Expo!

What kind of resources will be available to me? Job Search resources will be available to students in hard copy format and include Professional Association information, Job Search tips and resources. Electronic copies of these resources are available upon request.

Who can attend the Job Search Expo? All current and recent Continuing Education Students are welcome to attend the Expo. If you’re not currently enrolled in a CE course but have taken a course in the past, you are welcome to attend.

For more information on how you can obtain Employment Advisement assistance, or to arrange a booking time, please contact Lidia Siino at 905-575-1212 ext. 3576 or through email, lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.

A Resume Perspective- Using Bullets

Resume formats, by and large, are a personal preference. While that is true, once one has developed an “eye” for the development and critiquing, certain characteristics seem to have universal acceptance among those in the business.

Let us take the use of bulleting, for example. Most practioners lean towards the standard solid circular dot. I have also seen the use of the black and white triangular arrow style, but, regardless of your choice, consistency of use throughout the resume gives the most visual appeal.

The skill sets need to be targeted but can be hidden in the blur of bullet designs. For some reason even the use of the dash appears to minimalize or weaken the impact of skill strength.

The dash, despite even in bold, does nothing to attract the eye to the separation of the skill sets creating an overall “wordy” impression. Computer programs also offer numerical bulleting as another option. As a personal choice, I would hesitate here, because the act of numbering makes your skill sets appear few in number. It stares out at the employer as only “6” statements regardless what the quality of the strengths/experience these statements highlight.

Of the other options is the 4 diamond, diamond shape. Using this type, like the black and white triangular arrow, creates a visual busyness one should consider avoiding.

The hollow circular dot also lacks the impact that draws employer or recruiter attention, by being barely visible. The check mark has its place in the bulleting world but should be attributed to more advertising or flyer type use. Another option available if you are using colour on your resume is the various three color tones with a black cross running through it. It too, would be best left for other media applications. Finally, it is absolutely correct to use nothing at all with spacing between skills sets.

In the end, it is up to you as an individual to make your bulleting choice. Choose carefully and sparingly remembering it is the very first impression or contact the employer has with you and you want him to see you in the best possible light.

Jackie Fulton is a Continuing Education Student currently studying within the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACES offers a comprehensive Employment Advisement program for our students. For more information about Employment Advisement, please visit the MCACES website, www.mcaces.ca or contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at Lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.

Uncovering the mystery of a Good Cover Letter

What does your cover letter say about you?

What does your cover letter say about you?

The secret to writing a good cover letter…it should be customized to each employment posting! The tailored cover letter is the first formal document the employer reads about you.

Uncovering the Mystery:

  • Does your cover letter capture the employer’s interest/attention?
  • Does it connect you to the position?
  • Does it emphasize that you are a perfect fit for the position?
  • Does it convey that you have knowledge about the company?
  • Is it professional in tone and appearance?
  • Have you made a great first impression?
  • Have you included your branding?
  • Is the letter head consistent with what you used on your resume and reference sheet?
  • Is it free of errors?
  • Did you address the cover letter to a specific person?  (and quote the job number)
  • Is it one page in length? (clear and concise)
  • Did you use high-impact accomplishment statements?
  • Did you have a friend or colleague review it?

If you take the time to develop a tailored cover letter which is professional, visually attractive, easy to read and has a good balance you have completed the first step in the process to land yourself an interview with the company you are applying for. Next step for you is a customized…..Resume!

Melanie Graham is a Continuing Education Student currently studying within the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACES offers a comprehensive Employment Advisement program for our students. For more information about Employment Advisement, please visit the MCACES website, www.mcaces.ca or contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at Lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.