Career Coach's Corner: The ABCs of geography
by Tom Wolfe, Career Coach and Contributing Editor
Article Sponsored by: Snap-On Tools
Military personnel have a reputation for being flexible. Companies that hire veterans will frequently mention this flexibility among their reasons for targeting that demographic. Included in this label is geographic flexibility. Most military personnel change assignments every two or three years. Many of these job changes require a geographic displacement. After four to twenty or more years of this lifestyle, you have obviously learned how to relocate. Perhaps you should ask yourself if you want to market that talent.
The phrase ‘Willing to Relocate’ appears on many resumes. Those three words send a powerful message to a potential employer - for the right opportunity, I will go just about anywhere. If that willingness applies to you, then it should also be on your resume. It is, however, important that you do not misrepresent how you truly feel. As much as you want to reinforce the flexibility label and keep the doors open, you do not want to find yourself in a position where you decline an offer primarily because of the location of the job. If that is the main reason you are saying no, then you are not as willing to relocate as the message you conveyed earlier in the interviewing process.
The choices we make in life are not only driven by the alternatives at hand, but also by our preferences, likes, and dislikes. This decision-making process is a major component of a job search. Very few, if any, people are willing to relocate without restrictions. Human beings are choosy by nature and inherent in the word ‘choosy’ is the concept of having a choice. The ideal job search will, in the end, produce options and the more options, the better - right? Not necessarily.
In order to maximize the number of choices, one must minimize the number of filters. For example, let’s say you will do any job, live anywhere, take any salary, place no restrictions on travel, work any and all hours of the day, and are open to any type of business or industry. That level of flexibility will definitely increase the options available, but does that approach support your goal of finding the right opportunity?
Job location is a filter used by both parties in a job search. An employer does not want to interview a candidate who will not seriously consider the location of the job. Similarly, a candidate should not waste time and resources to find a job in a location where he or she will not live. Keep in mind also that filters do two things when applied to a system. Yes, they increase the quality of the final product by removing impurities along the way. However, in the process of removing these impurities, the flow or quantity is restricted and choices are fewer, but also inherently better. Think about it - what matters more - quantity or quality?
How important is the geographic location filter in your job search? Take the time to learn your Geographic ABCs before you start interviewing. Here is a 10-step exercise to help you answer that question from companies that hire veterans, and conduct a more productive search.
Here is how. Consider that in addition to those three categories of location - A, B, and C - there are also three categories of opportunities out there for you: A-grade, B-grade, and C-grade. Make the assumption that you are good enough to find something in the A- or B-grade categories, and that leaves you with four choices.
Now for the hard part. What do you do if you cannot get your first choice? You move on to your second choice, right? But wait - what comes second?
That question has no right or wrong answer. It depends entirely on what really matters to you and where geographic location appears on your priority list.
In summary, be as flexible on location as your personal circumstances will allow and be sure to study your Geographic ABCs before you launch your job search with employers that hire veterans.
Tom Wolfe, Career Coach, is a nationally recognized expert in military-to-civilian career transition and a contributing editor at Civilian Job News. He served as a surface warfare officer in the Navy and has provided career guidance to military personnel since 1978. Contact him via email at email@example.com.
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