Ask Chad about Careers, Part 6 |
By Chad Sowash | chief experience officer at RecruitMilitary and a former infantry drill sergeant in the United States Army |
Published in the January/February 2011 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Chad Sowash answers career questions submitted by men and women who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life, veterans who already have civilian work experience, members of the National Guard and reserve forces, and military spouses.
I am a 100% disabled veteran who was medically retired in 1998. I have been going to school since I exited the military and am ten units away from receiving my bachelor’s degree (ministerial studies). I would love to work in Human Resources. I was the EEO officer and Human Resource contact person in my unit while in the military, and my last position was a General’s Aide. How do my military HR duties translate into the civilian world of HR? Any ideas on the steps I should take?
Great question, because most job seekers, even non-military, have no idea what their focus or angle should be when going after a job especially if it’s in a new field.
I would start with some solid research around Human Resource job listings, duties and requirements for jobs such as HR Manager and HR Supervisor. You should perform a non-location specific job searches on www.RecruitMilitary.com or www.VetCentral.us using “HR Manager” for best results. Location is not necessary early in the process, just having as many HR jobs as possible when starting your research is preferred.
Next, examine and break down the job listings starting with the position’s duties. This is an incredibly important step, because after reviewing a few job listings you may find that either type of position is not a fit, or that you are right on target. This important process MUST be taken early in the job search to ensure that you are not wasting your or the prospective company’s time and effort. If the job still seems to be spot-on, you will need to put pen to paper and write down the many times you have performed these duties in the past, while noting success stories for each. This exercise helps you mentally prepare and hopefully better articulate your experience.
Then, move along to the basic requirements and boil down your military experience against the position requirements line by line. If you do not fit the requirement exactly but can match it with like certifications or experience, then go for it. But once again, YOU need to be able to articulate and prove similar experience – do not expect the company to take the extra steps.
Continue your job listing review by looking for any other bits of intelligence a company may make available including questions like “Ready to work in a fast-paced, yet rewarding environment?” This type of marketing element in a job posting provides a great opportunity for you to parallel your experience and skills in a fast-paced environment and again TELL YOUR STORY.
Remember also that your military experience gives you an edge over your civilian counterparts in a variety of ways. In this case, you can uniquely position your time as a General’s Aide, which is similar to working directly with a CEO or another type of executive in a corporate setting. Generals and Sergeant Majors sometimes have command and are responsible for head counts greater than many Fortune 500 executives, and should be held in high regard and positioned appropriately.
After you have run through the exercises above, update or revise your resume so that it reflects these new angles, responsibilities, parallels and skill sets. When your resume is complete and you feel confident that you can articulate your military skills and experience, it’s time to start a true job search on the sites listed above, including the ability to search and target locations. When you uncover jobs that match your needs, apply directly to the job on the company’s website, if applicable. This places your resume information in the corporate database, and will allow you to move on quickly to the next step.
Contact the company and let them know you are a veteran and have applied for a position within their organization, and would like to speak with the person in charge of their veteran hiring programs. If you are pushed into a voicemail system, leave a very professional message. If the company is a federal contractor, they are obligated to provide outreach and focus regarding hiring of veterans into their organization, although this does not obligate them to hire you. You can research the company to see if they are federal contractors using www.usaspending.gov.
Fighting for a job in a rough economy isn’t easy. But remember: the determination and tenacity you have learned in your military training can overcome many barriers the market may throw at you.