The folks at Parsons believe the veteran talent pool is a great place to swim. Founded in 1944, Parsons is an engineering, construction, technical, and management services firm with revenues of $3 billion in 2012. The company delivers design/design-build, program/construction management, and other professional services to federal, regional, and local government agencies, as well as to private industrial customers worldwide. Parsons is a leader in many diversified markets with a focus on transportation, environmental/infrastructure, defense/security, and resources.
With more than 12,000 people working in 50 states and on projects in 25 countries around the globe, veterans are among the employees that Parsons is seeking – veterans who can put their military experience to work for the company. Jake Beltz, a technical recruiter from Parsons’ Columbia, Maryland office and a former Marine himself, is working hard to make that happen. He is currently looking to fill lots of cybersecurity roles in the IT field. That field is “pretty hot and heavy right now,” he says.
Parsons likes to hire veterans for many reasons – their training and security clearances being at the top of the list. “A lot of the work we do coincides with what the military is doing,” Beltz points out, citing missile defense support, working with government contractors, technical support, and construction projects all over the U.S. He goes on to note that the principles espoused in the military closely mirror Parsons’ core values of safety, quality, integrity, diversity, innovation, sustainability.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analysts make sure that a firm’s information stays safe from cyber attacks by planning and carrying out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. Their responsibilities are continually expanding as the number of cyber attacks increase.
It’s important that information security analysts continually adapt to stay a step ahead of cyber attackers, something that should come naturally to veterans. They must keep current on the latest methods attackers are using to infiltrate computer systems and on IT security. These professionals also typically architect an organization’s disaster recovery plan, a procedure that IT employees follow in case of emergency to allow the IT department to continue functioning in a crisis. It includes preventative measures such as regularly copying and transferring data to an offsite locations and restoring proper IT functions after a disaster. Analysts continually test the steps in their recovery plans.
Demand for information security analysts in particular will be very high in the years to come. BLS data indicates that careers in cyber-security, including information security analysts, web developers, and computer network architects will remain solid through 2020. Employment for these positions is projected to grow 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. That’s because cyber attacks have grown in frequency and sophistication over the last few years, and many organizations are behind in their ability to detect them. Many more analysts will be needed to come up with innovative ways to prevent hackers from stealing critical information and creating havoc on computer networks. In particular, the federal government is expected to greatly increase its hiring of information security analysts to protect the nation’s critical IT systems.
According to the BLS, many cyber-security positions require a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. Information security analysts and network architects usually need experience in a related occupation, and additional knowledge of web programming languages can be helpful for web developers. Many employers look for people who have already worked in a related field. However, veterans without a college degree need not consider themselves ineligible for a career at Parsons, as the company places a large value on their training and background. “Many positions take experience in lieu of a degree. A lot of times we can overlook a college degree in favor of training,” says Beltz.
See what qualities veterans already possess which make them great candidates for roles in cybersecurity.
Advice from a Guy Who’s Been There
Since reading through resumes is a critical part of his job, Beltz knows what he wants to see. He encourages veterans to capture their accountability, education, job history, and training on their resume. He also warns against including too many acronyms and military jargon, a mainstay in the service. “Be able to translate and convert acronyms into business vernacular,” he says. Veterans should also include a few highlights per position, and list what they accomplished in each role.
He acknowledges that it can be hard for a transitioning military veteran to shift gears from a team dynamic to “tooting your own horn” about individual accomplishments in a civilian interview setting. Beltz’s Commanding Officer suggested a useful tool to encourage his team to tout their accomplishments. He advised them to make notes after each mission or exercise about key efforts and how they contributed to the mission’s success in order to start building their own resumes.
In face-to-face interviews, Beltz believes preparation is critical. “Dress for success. Do your homework. Research the company,” he advises. He also believes in finding commonly-asked interview questions on the Internet, and answering them with a friend or family member until a comfort level is reached. “Interviewing is a skill. The more you practice, the better you’re going to be.” He also advocates taking time to express one’s appreciation to the person interviewing you after the fact. He encourages sending a short email thanking the interviewer for their time and the opportunity to speak with them.
The core skills he learned in the military still serve Beltz well today. He served in Marine Corps from 2000 – 2008, and supported the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Like many veterans, he admits, “I was a grunt, serving on a fire team and in a platoon,” so he is easily able to identify with transitioning veterans in particular. He is especially appreciative of the work ethic he learned in the Marines. “Train hard. Work hard,” he says. His time in the service also taught him key organizational skills, like how to come up with a process for everything, and how to effectively manage his time. “It’s the Marine Corps way: Adapt and Overcome.”
Beltz also uses his experience to give back to veteran organizations. He and other Parsons employees who are veterans volunteer their time with the Wounded Warrior Program. Through fundraising and other events, Parsons also supports the Navy SEAL Foundation and Disabled Sports USA. He helps veterans build their resumes, conduct job searches, and navigate through the many opportunities available at Parsons. “Parsons is a big company. We have a variety of positions, from engineering to IT to construction. I can show them the big picture of the company, and help point them in the right direction.”
There are more than 500 Parsons jobs posted on RecruitMilitary’s job board in fields ranging from engineering positions to contract administration to IT support. To find the position that’s right for you, apply here.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Information Security Analysts, Web Developers, and Computer Network Architects,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts-web-developers-and-computer-network-architects.htm (visited August 23, 2013).