1. #1
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    Question Apply all you can no matter what??

    I've read Capt. Bob's book, and I understand and agree with the concept of applying everywhere and anywhere to get your badge. However, I'm a little stuck in my position. I currently work for a small system in costal NC, and am looking to make the big move to a department that I can work for in the years to come and maybe into retirement. So should I still apply everywhere and anywhere? I do not necessarily want to stay where I am because the call volume isn't high enough to further my skills and professional development. There are several departments open for application now or in the near future that would be better than where I am now, but may not be what I want in the long run. So should I apply to all of them anyway, even if I turn some down after I get an offer? How bad does that look to other departments? How about if I get in somewhere, turned another one down, and end wanting to work for the department I turned down?

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    Default

    Apply everywhere. If citysville is your dream department, and you get a job offer at townsville, take it. As a full time firefighter at townsville, you will be a more appealing candidate to citysville next time they hire. Also, working at townsville is probably better than doing nursing home transfers or bagging groceries or whatever you're doing now.

    I applied everywhere, got hired at a small department, worked there for a while, then jumped ship to a bigger one. I make more money, and go to a whole heck of a lot more fires. Don't feel bad about using a smaller department as a "stepping stone." Lots of people do it.

    And yes, it could hurt your chances of getting hired at a department if you turned them down in the past.

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    Default Test, Test, Test

    Understand the more tests you take, the better you will be at taking tests. Then, when the one you really want comes along, you're dialed up ready to nail that badge.

    You wrote: I'm a little stuck in my position.

    Reply: Stuck is only the 4 inches between your ears.

    For experience follow every test up to the point where you are offered a job and then make the evaluated all your options and make the decision if you will accept. I do not agree that if you turn a position down it will hurt you. You just aren't in a postion to accept the job at this time. Many agencies will allow you to pass on the hiring and stay on the list.

    I have several candidates who have gone out of their state to take tests in preparation for the "city they really want to work for". Guess what? They get offered jobs. How difficult would it be for you to turn a badge down? Guess where they live and work now? And, it's a lot easier to get a job once you have one.

    Stepping Stones:

    Use your current department as a positive not a stepping stone. The message you want to convey to the oral board is your goal has been to work for this department. Everything you have done up to today has prepared you for this opportunity. Your current department enabled you to get to the next level in your career. You were able to use your education and training to gain the much needed experience to improve your skill level to be a more qualified candidate for their department.

    Here's another situation:

    I encouraged Dave to test anywhere he could, so when the department he really wanted to work for tested, he would be up to speed. He went to Colorado to take a test. He said it was just for experience. He wouldn't take the job if he passed. This was just for the experience. He passed the written. Then the oral. Only for the experience mind you. Then the background packed arrived. Might as well fill it out and keep a copy for future reference.

    Dates were set to meet with the background investigator, psych test and poly. Dave was all of a sudden a frequent flyer to Colorado. All for the experience remember. Then the call came one day from the chief of the department. A call he had been waiting for a long time. He was offered a real BADGE!

    Now, let me ask you. If you were offered a badge, could you turn it down? Another flight to Colorado. This time with his wife to see if it she would be happy there. Guess where Dave works? Aurora (sp) Colorado.

    Oh, by the way, the year after Dave was hired, they sent him to medic school. He can't imagine working or living anywhere else. He just took the test for the experience.

    A response to the above from Matt:

    Capt. Bob,

    I can really relate with the last post you made on the community board dealing with testing. I was very similar to the guy named Dave. I took every test I could in California. I was a paid on call fire fighter, a seasonal for CDF in the summer and a student at CSU Chico trying to get a Bachelors degree. All of the sudden this last year my life changed forever. I took a test for a department just thinking I was doing it for experience. A few months later I got a letter stating I passed and that my oral interview was soon. I took the oral, got a letter a few months later stating that I passed. I was thinking to myself cool!! But I did not hear anything for a while (nearly six months). Then all of the sudden I had a chiefs interview, wow!! Then a physical, psych, background. Nearly a year after the test I had a full time job. This was a test I almost did not take, but I took it any ways for the experience. I am so grateful that I had a great girlfriend that convinced me to take the test. I am half way through probation and looking very good. I am so happy that all of my dreams for my career have started. I tell all of my buddies that want the badge as you say, test, test, test. Some get the idea and have gotten jobs. Some have not. I just thought I would share this story with you. Matt

    My son Rob and I are real fortunate. We get to be part of the changes in so many lives.

    "The secret of life is feeling you are on top of the world, whether you are or not" Fire "Captain Bob"

    Just a note to reinforce what Captain Bob has already said: Don't let what you can not do, affect what you can do. John Wooden (Retired Coach UCLA with the best win/loss record in college basketball) Nice and simple here folks.........Test.....Test....Test and test some more where ever and when ever you can! And just for a little tap on your Frontal cortex........Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Best wishes Tom

    Well Captain, youíre right. I tested and tested and tested. Iím a Long Beach guy who has been working on the Memphis Fire Department as a Firefighter/Paramedic for the last 6 years. The funny thing is I just came here for Ďpracticeí. I came with some friends who were coming to take the test. Some of those other guys wanted only their favorite department; guess what, they still donít have a badge. I was really just coming because Iíd never been to Beale Street or Memphis and I was just along for the ride. Well, that Ďpractice testí turned into 6 years of fantastic experience. I now have the fire and EMS experience that a lot of the departments have expressed interest in (for most of my time here, Iíve been assigned to the 7th busiest Truck Company and one of the top ten busiest ALS Ambulances in the US). That experience and those practice tests have enabled me to opt to take or not to take several different jobs with several great departments; the difference, I got to choose who I wanted to work for. Iíve still been taking Ďpractice testsí to keep my doors open. I also maintain my National Registry which makes it easier to achieve reciprocity for my Paramedic license.

    Thanks to all of that practice, Iím now faced with the most difficult choice of my life. Here it is: Iím in the right spot on the promotional lists for both Driver and Lieutenant (on the Company) here at MFD. I love the job, Iíll love the job even more following my upcoming two promotions, but donít care too much for this city. The problem, if you can call it that, is that Iíve scored 100% on the LAFD oral and have been invited out to continue in the process. I already know that there is no reason that I wonít be successful on the rest of the process. Now itís just going to be difficult to decide if I want to start fresh in a city in which Iíd prefer to live. Itís closer to my Mom, Dad, Grandma and old friends, but very far from my two brothers (with whom Iím very close), one of which now lives with me in Memphis, the other now in Little Rock (only 2 hours away).

    Southern California and The West has the activities that Iím interested in participating in, the mountains, the ocean, open minds, ethnic diversity, etc. Here, I have space, I live in a Ďsmall town, or countryí type setting, minutes away from the Ďbig cityí, I never have to lock my doors or my car; I have a 3 bedroom, 3 bath house on a Ĺ acre. There, Iíd be lucky to have a small place with a small yard right next to a zillion other people, more realistically, an apartment. Iím sure Iíll like the job just as much, but Iíll have to sell the house and move in an instant, and start fresh as an expendable rookie. But here, for the last several years Iíve been a field training person, critiquing and training students of all types from local colleges and universities, and probie Firefighter/Paramedics. I have built an excellent reputation among my peers and the public. I like that and it really does make a difference. Iím used to making decisions and having my opinion valued and frequently asked for by all ranks, that too is an important intangible. Also, here in Memphis, as a Firefighter Paramedic I am in charge of any scene which involves a medical aspect. This has also been great experience and good for my reputation; it will be difficult to be a rookie after working in that capacity for so long. I fear that I may accidentally share my opinion when Iím not in a capacity to do so and jeopardize my new reputation, or worse yet, job stability.

    I am having a hard time finding out what itís like on the inside at LAFD, I have many important yet unanswered questions. What will the promotional opportunities be like during the time that Iím eligible, how is morale, are the FF/Ps assigned to units, apparatus, or do they swap, are the FFs and FFPs one cohesive team that has mutual respect, or is there tension or unspoken (or spoken) disrespect, can team members sub and swap days, if so when can they begin, etc? Ya know, I have so many questions that I need to have answers to so I can make an educated decision, I need to know these answers because I am selecting them as much (if not more than) they are selecting me. I just canít find anyone who would like to visit who is on the inside.

    Oh yeah, and then to throw another monkey wrench into the mix, the department I really, really want is Seattle. The thing is that LA is nearly a bird in the hand; Seattle is one in the bush. If I take LA, I may not be able to get the time off to participate in the Seattle process. If I donít take LA, I could wind up stuck in Memphis in the event that I donít do well enough on Seattle. I was all set for Seattle last year; the only problem was that I ran out of money. Now, in hind sight, I know that I shouldíve taken out a loan, had I done that, I wouldnít be in this predicament now. Iíd be a bit more sure about Seattle if I knew that they were going to have the same type of test this next time as they had last time, Iím nervous though because the previous test was awful, simply cryptic!

    Do you have any advice for that? Iíve seen a lot of your posts and you have some great advice and wisdom, please, impart some upon me. Iím really in a quandary. Aside from their website, do you have any idea of how or where to meet someone on the Ďinsideí to help me make an educated decision? I know Iíd be happy with LAFD, even if SFD didnít come through, and really, Iím quite happy with MFD, I just know that Iíd be happier back in the West.

    Sorry this note is so long winded, I am just overwhelmed.

    Thanks so much for your time and attention.

    Respectfully submitted, Rob.

    Reply: I often get e-mails like yours.

    Here's what I would suggest. Take a piece of paper and put a line down the center. On the left list all the pros. On the right all the negatives of the LAFD. Do the same for your department. It might help make it clearer.

    As far as someone in LAFD, I have e-mailed you a contact.

    I would continue in the hiring process. More will be revealed. If you are offered the job, then make the decision. A lot to be said for the economic shock that will occur coming back. There will also be a different wind blowing. It's never the same.

    You will always questions yourself if you don't go. If you decide to go, try and get a leave of absence from your current department. If they offer you a job LAFD and you're still not sure, ask to pass on this round of hiring. Some departments will do that.

    If you go to LAFD and still had your sights set on Seattle, you would find a way to get the time to test there.

    How many academies do you have left in you?

    Expect the same test from Seattle. They have a tough psych interview. We have a psych report that has helped many.

    What a match:

    My story is a little different. I got hired by my little coastal town planning to get hired by a larger department. I tested endlessly without success. I became a medic, captain, head of the reserves and training officer for my department. Couldn't figure it out. Reserves from our department and new hires tested and were hired by other departments.

    Eleven years later, I had limited my testing to departments I felt would not hold my age against me.

    After one of our reserves was hired by us, then another department, he gave me your program. I couldn't believe what I heard. I realized I had been stuck in the oral board process for all those years and didn't have a clue.

    I became immediately focused on a new approach. I backed it up with a coaching session. The very next test I took, I was invited to the chiefs oral. It was like the questions were written for just me. It was my day. This time I was speaking their language.

    Captain Bob, it was just like you said could happen. The dust hadn't even settled and a call came that I had been waiting for more than eleven years. The chief telling me I was everything they were looking for and asking me if I wanted to work for his department. I was stunned. Could my wife and me meet the staff for an informal get together with the other candidates?

    This wasn't just another department. My pay almost doubled and we had to take in a wheelbarrow to haul away the benefits. My wife could finally stay at home if she wanted.

    The message here is like you, I had what it took inside me. I just didn't know I was stuck and how to present it in the best light. I would still be in that coastal town, never reaching my full potential. I'm forever fraternally grateful, Steve

    Believe it when you hear, "Nothing counts until you have the badge . . . Nothing."

    You can find more on testing secrets in the Career Article section from the Jobs drop down menu just above this posting.

    Fire "Captain Bob"

    www.eatstress.com
    Last edited by CaptBob; 02-05-2004 at 08:22 AM.

  4. #4
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    Question

    Thanks Capt. Bob, that cleared things up a bit. I have decided to go forward and apply to several of the departments in the area I would like to work in. One quick question for you: I noticed that most of your articles and success stories are from departments and guys on the west coast. Is there any difference between fire service hiring on the west coast and the east coast(where I live/work)? I only ask because on one of the applications I filled out the statement of understanding on the app said the oral was not the most important part of the hiring process and that past experience and employment records were more of a factor. Let me know what you think, and thanks for all the great advice!

    - Mike

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    Default Defferences

    With a some exceptions (like the one you mentioned) existing in what I call kindoms and fifedoms, usually the oral board is 100% of the score to get hired coast to coast. Everything else is pass/fail.

    You wrote: I filled out the statement of understanding on the app said the oral was not the most important part of the hiring process and that past experience and employment records were more of a factor.

    Reply: Even though, I'll bet the oral board is still the biggest factor here. Some of these agencies use these guidelines in an attempt to hire their locals, volunteers and those they really want.

    Take the test anyway for experience.

    Captain Bob

    www.eatstress.com

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