- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

What the Most Valuable Employers value the most

by Tom Wolfe, Career Coach and Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Humana

Return to May/June 2012 Issue

Military to Civilian TransitionAccording to recent data (January 2012) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 815,000 veterans are among the unemployed in this country. Much is being done in both the public and private sector to help alleviate the problem. This issue of CJN shines a spotlight on positive developments in the private sector.

As I have stressed in previous Career Coach’s Corners, you, the job seeker, need to work both hard and smart to be successful. Although our economy is growing and thousands of companies have openings to fill, most of those companies have very little, if any history of hiring military personnel or veterans. Hundreds of employers, however, have discovered the value of the veteran as an employee. These companies are predisposed and, better yet, motivated to hire veterans. So, given the importance of working smart, which category of company deserves the bulk of your job search time and energy? Well, that’s a no-brainer, but how do you go about finding those target-rich opportunities? You are going to love the answer to this question - you already have!

In this issue, you will find the CJN 2012 Most Valuable Employers (MVE) for Military¨. These 45 companies were chosen from the nominees for their commitment to hiring and retaining veterans. Targeting your search on these companies is working smart, and that frees up additional time to focus on the hard work associated with networking and interview preparation.

It would be wise to remember that although MVEs want to hire people like you, it does not necessarily mean they want to hire you. That is where interviewing comes into play. One of the most important characteristics of successful interviewing is interviewing empathy - being able to focus not only on what matters to you, but also on what matters to the potential employer. Being aware of, understanding, and pressing the interviewer’s hot buttons throughout the process will enhance your chances of winning the interview. Here is a summary of those hot buttons, sorted alphabetically.

Adaptability. You have demonstrated the ability to work outside your comfort zone and beyond the scope of your education and training. You change assignments and duty stations frequently and have learned how to get up to speed quickly, with little if any loss of effectiveness. You adapt to change, both on a physical and task-driven basis, and you are comfortable and adept in accommodating discontinuous environments.

Cross-cultural. You spend a significant amount of time working outside of your home country. You know the importance of understanding cultural differences and local customs. You respect the differences, and do your best to acknowledge and accommodate them as you plan and execute the mission.

Delegation. You have learned that you cannot do everything yourself. You know that you must frequently delegate authority to others and trust them to succeed, while also understanding that you retain responsibility in the process. You also recognize the importance of delegation as a leadership and development tool, both for your team members and for yourself.

Diversity. You have worked in one of the most diverse workforces in the world. Your co-workers and team members come from a broad range of socio-economic, racial, educational, religious, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. Among your team building skills is the ability to bring this diversity together, respect and accommodate the differences, and accomplish the mission.

Initiative. You assume responsibility readily and quickly. You learn what needs to be done, incorporate the rules of engagement and the circumstances, evaluate the risk, weigh the options, and take action.

Leadership. You have developed your leadership skills while in the service. You know how to build teams and motivate team members to succeed. You take care of your people, empower them, provide for their safety and well-being, and ensure they are properly trained and equipped for the mission. You lead by example.

Loyalty. You have a strong commitment to the organization and the mission. You believe in the core values, instill them in your team members, and exhibit those values every day in your word sand deeds.

Management. You have demonstrated the ability to manage people, projects, programs, crisis, and conflict. You are frequently responsible for thousands or millions of dollars of material and financial assets. You know how to allocate, juggle, prioritize, and control those resources.

Mission-focused. You understand the importance of the bottom line. Although that concept is defined in military terms as either readiness or war-fighting, you know how to function successfully in a civilian organization that is driven by profits or return on investment and you are well-prepared to take that ability with you to a new group and a new bottom line.

Physical fitness. You rarely, if ever, take a sick day. You are in good shape, physically fit, and stand up well under strenuous and physically taxing working conditions. You set the example for your team members. You are well-groomed and care about the image you project.

Reliability. You can be counted on to do what you are supposed to do and to be where you are supposed to be. You are worthy of trust, and do not need to be micro-managed or back-checked.

Resiliency. You have learned how to react to unexpected developments. You think fast on your feet. When you get knocked down, you pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes, and get back to the task at hand.

Self-sacrifice. You put others and the mission before self. You accept harsh working conditions, risky environments, long working hours, extended deployments, and family separation. You frequently require your team members to accept those same sacrifices, but you do not forget how it impacts their lives and the lives of their families.

Trainable. You take instruction and correction well, and have demonstrated the ability to get up to speed quickly. You are eager to learn, inquisitive, and not afraid to ask questions. You are willing to work outside your comfort zone and try new approaches. Much of your training is technical in nature, and you have the ability to transfer both the training and the technology to a new organization.

Value-added. You bring to the table additional value in terms of cost savings for the employer. In many cases, your relocation costs will be covered in full or in part by the government. Costs associated with training and education may be covered by your GI Bill benefits. The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 might allow your employer to take a $5,600 to $9,600 tax credit upon hiring you.

Verified. You are who you say you are. Your claims to experience, education, and training are truthful. Your security clearance attests to some degree of background check already in place. You have documentation to back up everything you say.

Work ethic. You have no fear of long hours and hard work. You do what it takes to get the job done with little or no supervision. Dedication to mission accomplishment is in your blood. Clock-punching is not in your vocabulary.

Wow! That is an impressive list, but it comes with a downside. Yes, you are working smart and being wise when you seek out a vet-friendly employer, but remember - the expectation is that you will validate that list when you walk in the door. Can you? Yes, if you are properly prepared. This requires excellent self-knowledge and the interviewing empathy mentioned earlier.

Review the list above and compare it to your personal profile. Look for the matches and do your best to reinforce those matches with examples, especially when they are on-point with the position being discussed and the interviewer’s hot buttons.

Tom Wolfe is contributing editor & columnist for Civilian Job News and author of ‘Out Of Uniform: Your Guide to a Successful Military-to-Civilian Career Transition.’

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