CRC Health Group | Hone Your Communications Skills |
Published in the September/October 2012 issue of print Search & Employ® |
F. Thompson is director of plant operations at a chemical-dependency treatment facility of CRC Health Group and a veteran of the United States Navy. He retired as a senior chief petty officer.
“I routinely coordinate and manage projects and personnel in relation to building, grounds, and plant improvements; preventive and corrective maintenance of a public water system, waste water treatment plant, emergency generator, and 28 HVAC systems; and risk management,” Thompson said. “Due to my experiences and the leadership skills gained while in the service, I started in a senior management position and quickly earned the respect of my peers at the facility as well as staff members within the corporate departments.
“My responsibilities in the Navy covered a wide range of areas. My area of technical expertise was marine electrician. My responsibilities during the last 10 years of my naval service revolved around leadership in a wide range of areas. As a senior enlisted leader, I was assigned duties as an engineering plant safety inspector and systems operations trainer, engineering department leading chief of a guided missile destroyer, leading chief of the information technology department, leading chief of the war gaming department at the Naval War College, and facilitator of leadership courses at the Senior Enlisted Academy. My experiences in these numerous areas helped me improve my versatility and ability to adapt to different environments and cultures.”
Going through a lot of interviews while in the Navy helped Thompson prepare for his current position when he left the service. “Throughout my Navy career, many of the qualifications I achieved were the result of an interview process called a qualification board,” he said. “The qualification board was usually a lengthy process, which included pre-boards to help prepare the candidate for the real board. I attended qualification boards as both the candidate and as a qualifier, which provided me different perspectives of the interview process.
“Each of the qualification boards provided me different experiences in human behavior and gave me a lot of confidence in myself during the interview process. During my first and only interview after my retirement, I was able to call upon my experience and convey to the interviewer with confidence how my technical and leadership skills would be beneficial to the facility and CRC Health Group.”
Thompson said that active duty servicemembers should not pass up any opportunity to improve themselves. “I set goals early in my career, and continuously adjusted them as I progressed in an effort to gain broad experience during each tour of duty,” he said. “I never turned down an opportunity to perform duties outside my comfort zone. One thing I would recommend for current servicemembers is to utilize every opportunity for education, and obtain as many certifications and degrees as time permits. Programs such as United Services Military Apprenticeship Programs (USMAPS) and Navy Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (Navy COOL) provide a great opportunity to translate a servicemember’s skills into marketable talents.”
Having good communications skills is important at any job. “The number one skill I learned in the service and nearly perfected – a personal goal I still work on – is effective communication,” Thompson said. “My time in the service provided me the training and occasion to hone the skill of effective communication, both verbal and written. Many people in today’s society practice various forms of inactive listening and don’t realize the importance of two-way communication. If both parties in a conversation only speak and fail to be active listeners, they are wasting valuable time and likely alienating an ally.
“Additionally, many folks are terrified of writing because they don’t understand the basics of grammar. These are skills which the military services help members improve upon throughout their careers, which make servicemembers a valuable asset to any organization.”
Good planning, project management, and problem-solving are also important. “Most servicemembers practice these skills at some point during their military service,” he said. “They just may not realize it. These are treasured qualities for employees to possess in the civilian workforce, which is why many employers search out veterans.”
Thompson also said that organizations are looking for employees with high moral character. “Some important behaviors the services instill in their members early in their careers are initiative, loyalty, dedication, and courage,” he said. “These traits are the source of the service’s success in mission after mission. Every organization has its fair share of problems, and employers are hungry for employees who possess a strong ethical and moral background to help them overcome these problem areas. This in turn helps the organization focus its attention on what is important – providing exceptional customer service and products.”
He believes that CRC Health Group offers ample opportunities for hard charging, motivated veterans to excel. “If your goal is to try new and exciting areas in the private sector by providing a service to our fellow human beings, then CRC is a good place to start,” Thompson said. “The clinical treatment is the face of the company and on the front lines of our services. However, as with any organization, there is a team of people conducting business behind the scenes that allow our clinicians the opportunity and means to provide for our clientele. The success of your transition from your military service to the civilian sector is important, and CRC provides multiple areas, utilizing multiple skill sets, to help you successfully become a civilian again.”
Thompson recommends that servicemembers who are leaving the military attend Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP) multiple times and in different locations – and specifically in the regions where they intend to reside. “The tools the Department of Labor provides during this course are invaluable in your transition,” he said.
A lot of planning helps, too. “Start planning your transition to the civilian work force early,” Thompson said. “I started my resume three years before my retirement, and spent three years honing it. You should keep in contact with former supervisors, and update that information on your reference list often. It can be difficult to track them down after you get out of the service.”
Research is also a basic factor. “Look into organizations before you interview, so you can ask intelligent questions during the interview and ensure the organization’s values align with yours,” he said. “Do not accept everything at face value; be observant during your interview process, and ask questions. This shows the interviewer your level of interest in working with their company.”
The same goes for working at CRC. “If you are interested in a position at a CRC facility, research that facility and the type of service provided,” Thompson said. “Then determine which of your personal strengths will be an asset to that organization.”