- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Three steps to hiring your perfect employer
by Heidi Russell Rafferty, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: CSX

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Sometimes civilian employers just glaze over in vapidity when you describe your job in the military. As a result, you may feel like they have all the power when it comes to hiring transitioning veterans.

But now it’s time to turn the tables. Instead of putting yourself in the position of being hired, be the one to hire your employer, says Jim Beqaj of Toronto, Canada, author of, “How to Hire the Right Employer: Finding the Job and Career That Fit You Through a Powerful Personal Infomercial.” Beqaj has hired more than 800 people during his career, and, as founder of Beqaj International Inc., he helps hundreds of companies find the right employees.

“Everyone defines themselves by their job, rank and title. You might say, ‘I’m a weapons specialist at Fort Bragg, but actually most people don’t even care what that is. What I try to do with people is get them to figure out what they’re good at. What it is that you just love? You come home and go, ‘God! That was just cool! If I could just do that every day!’” Beqaj says.

Three steps to hiring your employer

In his book, Beqaj lays out a three-step plan to help you find the employer that’s right for you rather than relying on employers to tell you if you’re right for them. Ironically, you focus on evaluating your own interests and strengths. What you’ll discover is that when you crystallize those things, as well as your personality and the way in which you prefer to solve conflicts, you can find the company or organization best suited to your needs, Beqaj says.

Recently, Beqaj counseled one of these transitioning veterans who did algorithms for work on missiles. To help him “hire” his employer, Beqaj had him go through the following three-step exercise:

Step One: Conduct an in-depth personal assessment of what you’re good at, what you love to do, how you are “wired,” and your personality.

In the case of the missiles expert, “he loved to work on calculations,” Beqaj says. “And who needs a person like that? The actuarial world, the derivatives world, the risk management world needs those skills. Keep in mind that they’re not looking at you like a military guy. Look at your skills and what you love; not what you did in the military, but your skills.”

Step Two: Find companies in your “Target-Rich Environment” - those with a philosophy similar to yours, including vision, culture, conflict resolution techniques, and size, growth and opportunity.

Beqaj borrowed the term “Target-Rich Environment” from a scene in the movie, “Top Gun,” when Goose and Maverick are at a bar and are surveying the “target-rich environment” of women. So think of your prospective companies in the same manner - those which will be most attractive to you and vice versa.

Examine your personality. If you haven’t done so already, take the Myers-Briggs personality assessment test, which reveals your “wiring” and also how you interact with those of similar or different personalities, Beqaj says.

For example, successful military leaders score Introvert/Extrovert-Sensing-Thinking-Judgment (ISTJ or ESTJ) on the Myers Briggs. “These are the people that love the military, the comfort and certainty of rank and file, and having corners defined. So look for companies that share the same qualities: governmental or large corporations with a command-and-control structure. Don’t look for entrepreneurial, out-of-the-box, Google...places like that,” Beqaj says.

Or, you may score as a freewheeler - an Extrovert-Intuitive-Feeling-Perceiving (ENFP). If that’s the case, the military environment wasn’t right for you. You’re more suited to the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Beqaj adds that pointed questions like these will also set you apart from your competition. “It’s different than what recruiters see all the time. So it makes a difference in how people think about you,” he says.

And before you show up for the interview, try this trick: Call the company’s switchboard operator. “The line support people are a good indication of what the company is like. Ask them what it’s like working there. Get information on the company by researching what articles have been written about it or the CEO,” he advises.

Step 3: Create your own personal infomercial, presenting yourself with clarity, persuasiveness and strength, rather than just the person whose name is on a resume.

An “infomercial” covers every aspect of life, so that you arm everyone with an understanding of what you’re looking for and what you’re good at, Beqaj says. But how do you put it together?

Beqaj suggests adding a PowerPoint presentation to the top of your resume. Your cover letter should include each section of the PowerPoint as well. For example, Beqaj’s son, who is in his junior university year, is a sports nut but is not enrolled in a sports marketing program. He applied for a position with TSN (the Canadian equivalent of ESPN), and there were 1,000 other applicants. His PowerPoint said, “I know everything about the NHL and Lacrosse. I like to work with people obsessed with sports. I was the captain of my team. I like to debate. I don’t like to argue. I like to work in a place where the facts are the facts.”

He was one of five people to get the interview. The interviewer picked up the PowerPoint presentation and said, “It says you know everything about hockey.” So Beqaj’s son named every player on the Toronto Maple Leafs. He got the job.

“His resume wouldn’t have gotten a sniff, but his PowerPoint infomercial did it,” Beqaj says.

Likewise, focus on your strengths, interests, skills, conflict resolution style and personality. And then if you don’t get the job after presenting yourself ... “Fantastic!” Beqaj says.

“If you don’t get the job, it’s because you accurately described yourself in the most basic form possible and you didn’t fit. That’s okay. We’re all trained to contort ourselves to get the job,” he says.

“People are used to handing the resume over and after a long pause, the interviewer is thinking, ‘I have no clue what I’m looking at.’ They say, ‘You were in the Army?’ You say, ‘Yes.’ Well, how’s that working for you? This is opposed to sitting down and saying: ‘My name is XYZ, and the reason I’m here today is that you’re looking for people with the following skill sets. I’m highly intelligent and disciplined and a team-oriented individual. I’m trained in algorithms. And the people I work best with are the following kinds of people. I like to work in a collaborative environment.’ This is how you find a target-rich environment. This is how you find someone who needs you and wants you.”

“How to Hire the Right Employer” is available for purchase at all major online bookselling outlets. Beqaj’s website: Blog: .

Freelancer Heidi Russell Rafferty is a reporter with 19 years of experience who writes about employment and business issues.

Return to July/August 2011 Issue