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BY Joel Junker

JMO Career Decision-Making

As a JMO recruiting company, Cameron-Brooks is much more than a “headhunter,”  as we assist our JMO candidates and our alumni through many critical career decisions.  These decisions include:  “Should I leave the military service?”  “If I leave the military service, what career options should I explore?”  “Which career will allow me to reach my career goals?” and “In which kind of company should I start my career?”  Once in a business career, the decisions continue, and include:  “Should I accept this promotion?”  “Should I relocate for that assignment?”  “Should I switch companies/industries?” and more.  I once heard, “You are the sum of all your decisions.”  Applying this to a career, “Your career is the sum of all of your career decisions,” therefore it is critical to make sound career decisions, and unfortunately, it only takes one poor decision to sidetrack a career.

Being a JMO Recruiter for 11 years now, and assisting many current JMOs and Cameron-Brooks alumni through career decisions, I have learned that a strong majority seek advice from others to help make a decision.  The trouble is that not all of the advice from other people, even trusted people such as spouse, parents, co-workers, and yes, other recruiters, is wise and based on experience and knowledge of a specific career decision.  The problem stems from confusing the difference between opinions and counsel.  I am currently reading the book Three Feet from Gold by Sharon Lechter and Greg Reid of the Napoleon Hill Foundation.  On page 30, the authors describe the difference between an opinion and counsel as, “Opinions are usually based on ignorance, or shall we say a lack of knowledge, whereas counsel is based on wisdom and experience.”  I imagine we have all made the mistake of confusing an opinion for counsel, and subsequently making a poor decision. 

Many people (I include myself here) often consider that if someone cares deeply about  and wants what’s best for an individual, this qualifies them as an advisor whose input should be weighed significantly in the decision-making process.  However, despite, the relationship, it is important to ask “What does this person know about my current situation?  What is his expertise in this subject?  What experience does he have in this area?” The answers to these questions will help to determine if you are receiving an opinion or counsel. 

Confusing opinions and counsel occurs in both the military to business career transition decisions and also business career decisions.  Most frequently I have experienced JMOs, and our alumni in business receiving poor input from well-meaning people on issues such as negotiating compensation,  career location decisions, quitting a new career when things become challenging, or switching jobs because a higher offer comes from another company (when very little additional research has been done into the intrinsic qualities of the other company).  I firmly believe that all career decisions have tradeoffs.  When others offer opinions, they tend to share insight about either the positives or the negatives, but if they do not speak from the basis of pertinent experience and knowledge, they can’t offer either which is required for counsel.

What to do with this knowledge of the difference of opinions and counsel?  First, identify those who can provide you with counsel, and second, continue to seek them out.  I believe it is vital to learn from others who have more experience and knowledge so we can apply the lessons they have already learned.  Third, when receiving unsolicited advice, apply the standards of appropriate knowledge or experience to determine if it is counsel or opinion.  Finally, as you give advice to others, determine if you are giving opinion or counsel and let that person know so he understands how to value and apply it.

 Cameron-Brooks is thankful to have the privilege of sharing our knowledge with JMOs and our alumni.  This knowledge comes from a basis of a rich depth of experience that has been built through over forty years of partnering with JMOs as they transition into the business world and throughout their career.

Joel Junker