Batson Blog #2 April/May 2020

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Following my stint with 1 Bn 37th Armor with its then jeeps, gamma goats and M60 tanks, I served 20 more years in the U.S. Army Reserve with two mobilizations. Reserve drill weekends, chocked full of Common Task and other mandatory training, scarcely held time for MOS sustainment.  Knowledge of fellow soldiers’ MOS proficiency was spotty because, in the Reserve Component, one’s Functional Skills often contributed more to mission success than MOS or even the rank on one’s collar.  At no other time was this fact more evident than no-notice mobilizations to active duty. Being thrust together for 8-16 months instead of the usual 8-16 hours begged the question: What else can you do?

SGT A., not a mechanic by MOS, was so skilled at generator repair and maintenance that, in the motor pool, he became known as “Healing Hands.” SPC B. spoke excellent French. Who knew? 1LT C. had been an accomplished gymnast in college; she wowed our Active Component parent unit with spirited PT warm-ups. I could draw maps and graphics as well as many a school-trained draftsman.

Functional Skills factor large because they are transferable skills. Which

functional skills do you possess that may or may not be related to your Army MOS? To be competitive in the job market in the 2020s, do you need to acquire new skills? To best position yourself for the civilian job market, pay keen attention to identifying and refining your present functional skills as well as acquiring new and more marketable skills. On your resume and in job interviews, you must first identify and then communicate the transferability of your skills to prospective employers.

The aforementioned examples can be respectively described as Mechanical, Language, Physical/Dexterity, and Artistic. Yet there are many more functional skills:

Interpersonal: Relate well, work well with others, both individuals and groups. “Often selected to welcome and orient new employees.” “Served as manager’s liaison to community volunteers, all senior citizens.”

Persuasive: Able to sell or demonstrate ideas, products and services to various groups. “Made presentations to Congressional staffers on pros and cons of proposed policy.” “Was recognized as outstanding keyworker in the Combined Federal Campaign (United Way) with donations to charity totaling over $5,000.

Spatial Analysis: Visualize or conceptualize the shape, dimensions, and surfaces of objects, 2D or 3D, from images, plans, or drawings. “Designed floor plans to maximize space from provided blueprints.”

Abstract Reasoning: Develop logical procedures without specific words or numbers as guides. “Created macros for the office PC that saved much admin time.”

Supervisory: Lead people, liaise with other work units, delegate responsibilities, mediate disputes. “Determined work assignments for 5 direct reports and coordinated work flows with our East/West Coast office three time zones apart.”

Coaching/Counseling: Help others to solve personal and work-related problems. “Assisted claimants in understanding their rights, responsibilities, and timelines.” “Was sought after to generate ideas for Alternative Dispute Resolution.”

Instruction: Teach skills and knowledge to others. Facilitate learning situations. “Trained 20 employees on how to use new inventory software.”

Numerical: Work accurately with figures, custodian of accounts and cash box. “Reconciled accounts payable and receivable, balanced accounts weekly.”

I trust you have retained copies of your OERs/EERs. Scanning the bullet points and accomplishments should identify a number of functional skills transferable to civilian work. O*NET Online offers a handy list to jog your memory at https://www.onetonline.org/skills/.  As a former USAR Turkish linguist, I would be remiss not mention translation as a functional skill.  Translation of your Army functional skills into civilian language may be required. Ask a mentor for help. The previous Blog covered adaptability skills; the next one will examine technical or job-specific skills.

Douglas Batson was a Cavalry Scout in 1st Bn 37th Armor in Ansbach, Germany, 1980-82. He is a National Certified Career Counselor and Senior Professional in Human Resources. In 2004, he retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a Sergeant First Class.

AMP Registration Instructions

Thanks for your interest in joining the Alumni’s professional network. If you are starting your transition out of the military, or on to another opportunity in the commercial sector, this is where you can activate the network of your brothers-in-arm to help you reach your goal.

If you want to be a volunteer, thank you for giving back in one of the most important ways you can to your brothers. The network is only as strong as it’s volunteers and this service couldn’t be offered without you.

In either case, you need to complete the registration as follows below. For volunteers, there is an additional set of questions at the bottom of the form that we need to assign you to the tasks that you prefer.

Step One

There are two ways to access the Registration page. The first is from the Menu bar at the top of each page. On the Mentorship menu item you will see Register at the bottom. Once you are logged in, you will not see this item, nor need it.

The other location is on the Alumni Mentorship Program (AMP) landing page. At the bottom you will see a button labeled Register for Program that will take you there.

Step Two

Once you get to the registration page, you’ll be required to fill in all the fields except for the LinkedIn profile link as you may not have one yet. However, this is a critical part of activating the network and you will want to include it in your profile later if you don’t have one now.

The username will be used to identify you in most of the site and used to send messages to. So keep that in mind as you decide on a user name. You’ll be able to log in the site with either your Username or Email Address.

The last part of signing up is to tell us what Industries your interested in pursuing, or if you are a volunteer which ones you have experience with and could consult other members. Check all that apply.

Once you’ve filled in all your information, make sure to “Complete Sign Up”. That’s it! You will receive an email to the address that you provided asking you to validate your email. If you don’t see it after a couple minutes, please check your spam folder. You are on the path to getting help tackling the challenge ahead of you. They best part is, you won’t be alone.

Step Three (Volunteers Only)

However, if you are a volunteer, you will see more questions that need to be answered in order to assign you to tasks you prefer. The most important question we need you to answer is that you are a volunteer and not someone needing support in transition. Please make sure to click the Yes option. Then let us know what level of members you feel comfortable and able to work with. Additionally, what kind of support would you like to be involved with? If you don’t like writing resumes, well then you don’t have to check that block 🙂

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If you selected Other Focus, please tell us what you’d like to offer. We know there are so many creative ways to support those going through a job or career change and might want to include your ideas into the program. Then let us know if you’d like to be a lead Point of Contact (POC) for any of your interests.

At this point you will want to “Complete Sign Up”. You will receive an email to the address that you provided asking you to validate your email. If you don’t see it after a couple minutes, please check your spam folder.

That’s it. We have what we need in order to get you plugged into the AMP volunteers! Be on the look out for communications from the coordinator. Thanks again for offering your time and energy toward this effort.

Our First AMP Blog: Courage Conquers, Adaptability Advances

Thanks to Doug Batson for writing our first AMP blog!  Great insights from Doug on 5 Adaptive Skills that can help transitions. AMP volunteers, let’s keep blogs and articles like this coming.  Bob Hughes…rshughes102@gmail.com

March 2020, Batson Blog #1: Courage Conquers, Adaptability Advances

With heady victories in the Cold War and Operation Desert Storm, in the early 1990s many U.S. Army Europe soldiers were caught off-guard by involuntary separations or voluntary incentives to separate. The USAREUR drawdown was tumultuous; 100,000 soldiers had to be promptly pared from the forward-deployed force plus confusion reigned over which units were deactivating and when. In the pre-internet age, the Army Career & Alumni Program (ACAP, now Soldier for Life/Transition Assistance Program) became a godsend for USAREUR soldiers forced to make the military to civilian transition from overseas. ACAP’s fax machines were the prized hi-tech devices then used to communicate with CONUS.

By establishing the ACAP Program in the closing Nuremberg Military Community, home to 30,000 Americans, I witnessed first-hand the agility and adaptive skills needed for a successful transition—sometimes with little or no notice! And it is the inventorying of adaptive skills that I want current 37th Armor soldiers, and their Alumni mentors, to act on from this blog.

Sometimes called work habits, I prefer the term adaptive skills because they have been learned and honed from military service. Let’s look at some examples.

  1. Work Cooperatively. A job description might blandly read, “work with others to meet company goals”. When it comes to inventorying examples of this adaptive skill for a resume or interview, soldiers often have more and better experiences to draw from than do their civilian counterparts. Expressing this skill, in civilian terms, such as “Led a diverse, 5-person team from different offices (not platoons, companies, or units) to package products (not rations or POL) and deliver them on time,” commands attention. Similarly, “When production peaks require overtime, willingly take on extra work.”
  1. Reliability is an adaptive skill desired by every employer. Be where you are supposed to be when expected; do the work expected, even if problems arise. Examples might be “Completed weekly reports on time even when direct-reports tended to be late with their figures/input.” And, “Had backup arrangements for child care in case of family illness.” 
  1. Assertiveness is often overlooked as a personal strength. “Presented my views confidently and explained their merits without becoming defensive.” And, “Spoke up for my team during performance reviews, but also listened, not taking constructive criticism personally.” 
  1. Concentration is the adaptive skill to remain focused on work despite distractions. “Accomplished end-of-month inventory even when adjacent office workers were noisily texting.” And, “Gathered data and costs about a new site despite severe weather interruptions.” 
  1. Attitude is to see the best side of matters, the glass as half-full, to remain positive and committed. “Take on new tasks with enthusiasm; want to see things moving forward.” And, “Started a brainstorming session that overcame holiday shipping constraints.” 

Time management, tact, judgment, thoroughness, accuracy, and flexibility are other adaptive skills to consider inventorying in preparation for a career transition. Ask current co-workers and supervisors for more adaptive skills that describe you. Chances are they will come up with some surprises to beef up your inventory. In future blogs we will examine functional and technical skills.

Douglas Batson was a Cavalry Scout in 1st Bn 37th Armor in Ansbach, Germany, 1980-82. He is a National Certified Career Counselor and Senior Professional in Human Resources. In 2004, he retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a Sergeant First Class.