4 Career Tips for Success from the Military

by Kay Lynn

The Lone Sailor
photo credit: eco77

My family has a long history of military service dating back to the American Revolution.  Both my parents served and my father retired after a 20 year career.  So when I decided  to get a full time job to fund college it wasn’t surprising I selected the military.

As a 19 year old who had only worked a couple of part time jobs (not counting babysitting) boot camp was an eye opener.  Initial training (labeled differently based on military branch) is designed to transform people into sailors, marines, soldiers or airmen by instilling you with the branch’s values and skills.

Since my military occupation was in the medical field it easily transitioned to the civilian  job market.  Years later I appreciated how the military had taught me how to be successful with any career with four key lessons.

Always Be On Time

The Navy standard for assigned work schedules is to start 15 minutes early.  While this is not the norm in civilian life, planning to be early can increase punctuality despite traffic (or life) delays.  Is a manager going to be annoyed with employees for showing up before their scheduled work shift?  No but they will negatively note tardiness, especially if it is a habit.

Follow the Chain of Command

Translate “chain of command” to management structure and it will make sense.  Even though this might seem outdated with more informal work environments that is an illusion. Supervisors and lower level managers are there to handle routine issues and float the bigger stuff up the chain. 

No one is Indispensable

With assignments ranging from 1 to 4 years the staff changes regularly in a military work unit.  This is designed to increase the skills of each person as they change work places and to ensure the unit can meet the core objective of keeping the nation safe regardless of individuals.  During combat soldiers may be lost and the unit must continue to fight.  This is a life and death lesson in this context. 

Although not as black and white, corporations usually view employees the same way.  Especially during these economic times with a high unemployment rate people are replaceable.  

The value of corporate knowledge is weighed against meeting additional demands (pay or otherwise) and  rarely does the employee win out.

The Power of Teamwork

Individually, no soldier or sailor could complete the unit’s mission but together they can do successfully.  It’s the same way in most businesses.  One individual can’t make the product, sell it and provide service. 

 Be an integral part of the team and you will be recognized as an individual for outstanding work.  It’s also noted when employees are not team players and they usually won’t progress at the company.

These lessons are taught outside the military although it may be more subtle.    What career lessons have you learned?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Jeff @Deliverawaydebt April 9, 2010 at 10:28 am

All are very good lessons. The one that I think applies to so many people out in the working world is number 3. We are all dispensable and the quicker people understand that the better off they will be.
.-= Jeff @Deliverawaydebt´s last blog ..Blogging Bliss Winners | DeliverAwayDebt =-.

Jersey Mom April 9, 2010 at 10:29 am

Those are very good lessons to learn & is useful in the corp world. I’ve also learned that in order to move up, you need to put in more time, more effort, and do things others are not willing to do (i.e. work on weekends).
.-= Jersey Mom´s last blog ..Auto Show =-.

Dr Dean April 10, 2010 at 10:57 am

Valuable tips and reminders. For a lot of young people, who are smart, but don’t know what they want to do when they grow up, the military can provide a great place to mature…
.-= Dr Dean´s last blog ..Apple’s I-Pad: Buying One is Stupid! =-.

Joe Plemon April 11, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Though not a career man, I did serve a stint in the Army. One lesson I learned (similar to chain of command) is to respect authority. Even if the person in authority is not a likable person, he is above me and I need to respect his position of authority. Whether military or civilian, if a person doesn’t show respect for his superiors, he is in trouble.

Bucksome April 12, 2010 at 5:51 am

That’s a good point Joe. You need to respect the position even if you don’t respect the person.

Jolyn@Budgets are the New Black April 12, 2010 at 5:12 am

For number 3, I had never heard it explained quite that why the logic behind moving airmen/soldiers/sailors/marines around every three years or so. The Air Force has largely done away with that, though, with its enlisted forces, but not for the officers. A lot of people complain that moving families around regularly is an unnecessary expense for the military (and taxpayer).

Totally not your point. But I can’t help it if my mind wanders. 😉
.-= Jolyn@Budgets are the New Black´s last blog ..Good Read$ for Your Weekend Reading Plea$ure =-.

Bucksome April 12, 2010 at 5:50 am

Jolyn, I’m glad I offered some new information. People should know there are valid reasons even if its expensive.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 5 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: