On July 5th, 1993, The Military Times (Army Times, Navy Times and Air Force Times) published a transition supplement called “Second Careers, Life After Service.” I was one of the nine people who made that issue.
As a small editing note, my wife's name was in the article, which I have redacted here because it is a unique name and she likes her privacy. Other than that, this is an exact transcription:
Navy electronics technician employs aggressive approach in job search
By Madilee C. Wick
Positive aggressiveness: That’s how Mark Havener describes the tactic he used in his search for employment.
A Navy electronics technician first, Havener separated in December after 13 years in service. His strategy worked: Three weeks before his discharge, he took terminal leave and was on the job repairing computers for a Memphis, Tenn., computer store.
Havener timed his departure from the Navy to coincide with a stateside school assignment so he could make contacts in the private sector before making the jump from military to civilian life.
He had transferred to Naval Air Station Memphis from an overseas assignment – Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Western Pacific, Guam – where he was assistant to the base security officer for computers.
Part of his job on Guam was to repair computers on site, exactly what he wanted to do once he got out. He was also responsible for computer security, making sure the machines were properly approved to handle classified information and keeping tabs on software that had been added.
At 31, Havener says, he thought that if he waited five more years to leave the service, he might not be as marketable.
“By that time, I would be more management-oriented, as opposed to technical,” he says, “and I didn’t want that.”
He has been taking things apart and fixing them since he was a kid, and he wanted to continue to do so. In fact, he says, “Everything I know about computers has been self-taught.”
He considers himself “a rare case” because he has been to few schools but has the ability to learn how to troubleshoot. He bought his first computer in 1983, and now has four that he uses regularly.
Havener, a native of Ohio, and his wife, wanted to stay in Memphis; they liked the climate, the people and the standard of living.
“The cost of living is pretty close to the national average, and the people here are really friendly,” he says, noting that he and his wife strike up conversations with total strangers and have made friends quickly.
So he applied for the Special Separation Benefit in September and got approval in October for his December discharge. He also began his job search in September, a brief time to look for a job, but it turned out to be ample.
“I approached Memphis like Godzilla did Tokyo,” he says. In a simple strategy he calls “wide-area aggression,” he used the yellow pages of his telephone directory to locate 30 companies that did service work on computers. With his resume in hand, he set out to do a sweep of Memphis computer stores.
“I knew I had the qualifications and skills, and I was prepared to hit every computer store in Memphis for as many times as necessary,” he says. The first two stores on his list were closed the day he began; the third store hired him.
The patience he learned in the military came into play that day. The manager of the store was out, and the owner met him, read his resume and had him wait for the manager for an hour and a half.
“My thoughts were that I could be out hitting four or five other places while I was sitting there, but I’ve learned that in order to get a job you can’t complain, can’t moan.”
It paid off. When the manager appeared, Havener says, “He took one look at my resume and said, ‘You’re exactly what we’re looking for.’ I had the exact qualifications and experience they wanted, and I likes the company enough so that I stopped looking.”
As a support engineer, he fixes clients’ computers both on site and in the shop. The resume that so impressed his current employer was a piece of work Havener had perfected. He had first sought out a professional resume writer, but was unhappy with the results.
“When he finished my resume, it didn’t translate to the civilian side,” he says. “About the only thing I got was the format. I reworded a lot of it.”
Havener says his job is “very close to the ideal job I wanted. I actually wants to be in the service department, ultimately as a service manager.” For now, however, he is happy where he is. The service manager position is something he’ll aim for.