Last week I was on the phone with one of my buddies, reminiscing back to our pre-deployment medical screenings at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.  He mentioned the goofy company representative that we had assigned to us, and I couldn’t help but laugh.  It was pretty apparent that this guy had kids because he had a list of prohibited behaviors that he called his “Be-No” rules, stuff that would get you sent home in a heartbeat.  They were sort of cheesy but they got the point across, and I wanted to share them today because it seems like they apply during any point in your job search.

 “There will be no missing formation.”

                This sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed how many people seem to have trouble showing up on time to the one daily accountability formation.  The company rep’s rule was that if you couldn’t manage to straggle down to the courtyard for fifteen minutes every morning, then it was pretty clear that you didn’t really want the job!

                I got to thinking about this at work a few days back when my recruiter told me that a candidate I’d hired hadn’t returned any phone calls or emails in three days, and that he was about to revoke the dude’s job offer.  It turned out that the guy was just out of town for the birth of his first grandkid, which is just about as good of an excuse as you can have, but it still almost cost him a job opportunity.   There’s nothing wrong with going on vacation for a few days, but if you’re in the middle of a job search then you might want to update your voicemail message to include the date you expect to return.  For email, even the free services like Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail have features where you can set a customized auto-away message which responds immediately to emails during a certain timeframe.  By taking a minute to set this up before you leave, you won’t give a recruiter any excuse to wonder whether you’re still interested in the job.

“There will be no alcohol.”

                It’s amazing how many people griped about not being allowed to drink for a week or so, but it was probably for good reason.  When you’re staying on an Army base, nothing tends to bring your career to a screeching halt quite like getting lit and showing out in front of the MPs.  Besides, even if you’re someone who avoids doing dumb stuff while drunk, there’s always that increased possibility that you’ll sleep late and miss a formation.

                For those of you still in the pre-hire pipeline, you should know that concerns about alcohol use are a huge red flag when it comes to security clearances.  Having any criminal citations in your record, even for something relatively minor like an open container in public, shows a lack of good judgment.  Be careful not to list too many of your drinking buddies as professional references, either.  If your company also prohibits alcohol during training, I recommend using this opportunity as one last chance to get used to enforced sobriety before you go wheels up.

“There will be no Mexico.”

                I think we had one night where there was an 6-hour window for border crossings, but other than that Mexico was a clear no-go, probably for the same reasons listed above.  It only takes a minute to do some dumb stuff that will derail your career, and I’ve heard that Mexican prisons are no joke.  No matter what the reason, you can pretty much kiss that $10,000/month job goodbye if you don’t manage to get on the plane as scheduled.

                Instead of falling into the trap of hitting the town night after night for endless “goodbye parties”, why not use the downtime to set yourself up for success?  Spend some time getting to know the other contractors in your deployment group, since they’ll be your best source of information for future job opportunities.  Even if you’re still waiting on a conditional offer, there are better ways to use your time than making the rounds at all the clubs.  Make sure that your paperwork is squared away, to include a valid will and power of attorney.  Get an emergency plan together for your family, or just familiarize yourself with information about the place you plan on working.

                The “Be-No” rules might seemed like a pain in the rear at the time, but in retrospect they were all in place for a good reason.  If you don’t deploy as scheduled, the company loses the money they’ve invested in you and becomes at risk for missing their staffing target.  More importantly, if that plane leaves and you’re not on it, you’re out of luck (and out of a job).