Good Army Career Idea: Take the Tough Army Jobs No One Else Wants

One of the best pieces of Army career advice that I ever received was “take the jobs that no one else wants.”  These are the jobs that require lots of work, endless challenges, and a high probability of FAILURE.

Once you’ve been in the Army for any period of time, you will quickly discover that most people AVOID the tough jobs.  Either they don’t want the challenge, the added responsibilities, or they don’t want to put themselves in a position where they might fail.  Personally, I’ve never subscribed to that mindset.  I’ve always believed that the tough jobs are an opportunity to show what you bring to the table.

Several examples of tough Army jobs might include:

  • High visibility job such as an Aid de Camp
  • Command Positions
  • S3 Jobs
  • Jobs That Require Long Hours
  • Jobs That Require a Lot of Travel
  • Jobs Where the Unit is Horrible and Has a Bad Reputation

One of my former Battalion Commanders once told me to ALWAYS take the tough jobs.  Seek them out.  He claimed the benefits for doing so included:

  • Learn New Skills
  • Challenge Yourself
  • Get Noticed by Superiors
  • Build a Strong Resume
  • Move Up Your Career Quicker
tough jobs
Tip: Take the tough jobs that no one else wants so you can advance your career.

If you take a tough job, and succeed with the job, you will get noticed.  On the other hand, if you fail at the new job, it could have a negative impact on your career.  However, I’ve never subscribed to the mindset of playing it safe.  If you have big goals and want to advance your military career to the highest ranks, you have to be willing to do what most of your peers WON’T DO.  Never forget that.  There’s always a chance that you could fail in a job and get a bad evaluation report.  Once again, if you’re good at what you do, that’s highly unlikely.  But yes, it is possible.

If I could leave you with some final Army Career Advice, it would be this.  Make an assessment of all the job positions in your unit and determine which ones are the hardest and most demanding.  If you can, apply to those jobs.   Also, look for jobs in HORRIBLE units.  Try to find units that NO ONE else wants to serve in and take leadership positions in those units.  If you are good at what you do, you have nowhere to go but up.  Additionally, look for individuals who are horrible at what they do, and be the person who replaces them in their job.  Once again, if you are good at what you do, you have nowhere to go but up.

Final Thoughts

In summary, some good Army Career Advice is to “take the tough jobs that no one else wants.”  Look for tough Army jobs and horrible units that allow you to show others what YOU bring to the table as a leader.  This is quite perhaps the best way to “stand above” the crowd and get noticed, so you can advance your Army career quickly.  If you do what most people do and play it safe your whole career, you will simply have an average career.

What are your thoughts? What do you think about taking tough assignments? What are some tough jobs you can think of?  Leave a comment and let me know.  Thanks.

14 thoughts on “Good Army Career Idea: Take the Tough Army Jobs No One Else Wants”

  1. I learned very early in life that someone has to do the jobs that suck. By being willing and giving all your self into jobs such as this, you will gain a lot of respect. Others will see the willingness and they will know that you are not afraid to jump into jobs that are difficult. You will have advantages in job applications over others because of your go-getem attitude.

    Yes, being willing to take what others won’t do is a key to success.

  2. Tough jobs can lead to big opportunities down the road. This is good Army career advice. Have you ever heard the phrase “You reap what you sow?” I really liked what you said about needing to do what your peers won’t. It’s completely true. If you want to succeed you have to go to do what nobody else is willing to do.

    1. Candace Ginestar

      I agree with this completely. Never be afraid to take on a challenge and do your best. Your leaders know you aren’t perfect, what they want is someone who will always try hard and produce their best products by putting in the effort to do so. They are asking you to do these jobs for a reason…take them.

  3. Katelyn Hensel

    If you approach your life in the mindset of possibly failing, I can bet you will not be particularly successful. Tough jobs that everyone knows about will be a massive benefit down the road. You make some excellent points, particularly that if you take a tough job, and succeed with the job, you will get noticed. Even if you just do okay on a job that is notably difficult, it looks better than doing well on an easy or less worthy job. If you have big goals and want to advance your career to the highest ranks there has to be something that sets you apart from the rabble. Taking difficult jobs are one of the ways to make that happen.

    1. So true, Katelyn. I’ve never met a successful General or Sergeant’s Major who was known for taking the easy jobs. It you want to make it to the top ranks you have to be willing to do what most of your peers aren’t willing to do. That means take the tough jobs!

      1. Candace Ginestar

        People are always paying attention to you, whether you realize it or not. If you turn away from tough assignments, they will notice. They won’t punish you for it, obviously…but you won’t get very far. That alone is punishment enough.

  4. Searching for a job where the reputation of the unit (group or class) was horrible and had a bad reputation was exactly what I did in 1989. I had just completed my B.A. in English and needed to start my job resume. I chose to interview at a school where no one wanted to work, where the unemployment rate was 35 % in a town of 3000 people and the achievement test scores were the lowest in the county. They hired me immediately because it was difficult for them to get anyone to apply. The job was not easy. It was very difficult, but the job gave me experience, respect, and resume “candy.” I worked very well with the team of teachers there to pull the school of students to # 3 of 16 schools in the state writing exam and took them on educational field trips to operas, museums, science exploratory and senior citizens’ homes. It gave me the opportunity to quickly acquire leadership skills in these and other projects. I also constantly felt a sense of adventure and accomplishment and appreciation for every success and failure.

    1. When you start at the bottom you have no where to go but up. Smart move Suzanne. I’m glad you took the risk and it worked out well for you. I’ve followed the same advice in my military career and it always worked out well for me. All the best.


    2. Candace Ginestar

      This is a great civilian example of “you’re doing it right”. It sounds like a daunting task to want to pursue working at a school like that. I respect teachers so much, you have a lot of responsibility to mold and shape young Americans.

  5. Neil O'Donnell

    Your advice is something everyone should consider. Yes, succeeding in the completion of a tough job will likely get you noticed, for your leadership qualities, courage, and determination. That said, even a failure, where no one else even made an attempt, could get you noticed by your superiors and help with getting you promoted quicker than your peers.

    1. Thanks, Neil. I always took the tough jobs and it suited me fine. Playing it safe won’t get anyone very far in life.

      Ultimately, we have to do something to stand out in the crowd or we will really only be average.

  6. I spent 8 years in government service and learned this lesson well. Taking the “untouchable” jobs taught me a lot about the agency I worked for, got me out of the office, and built up my job skills. When a plum assignment came along a year later, my boss went to bat for me and things worked out well. Spending time in the trenches pays off.

    1. I’m glad that worked out for you Larry. I’ve always found that the people who take the tough jobs, and do a good job, are the ones at the top of the promotion list in every organization. I’ve sat on promotion boards before, and I would never select someone for promotion who always had easy jobs. People who only do easy jobs are either lazy or incompetent, or a combination of the two.

      1. Candace Ginestar

        Chuck, that’s a good point. If you are looking at someone’s resume, you can see if they are willing to work hard or not. It’s a good indicator without even having to talk to the person or look at them.

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