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Do you fit the profile?

by Tom Wolfe, Career Coach and Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Lockheed Martin

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transitioning military hired for operations management In this issue, you will find the 2013 Most Valuable Employers (MVE) for Military®. What is unique about the MVE list is that the eligible companies can be any size, not just the largest with the most resources. As such, they represent a broad spectrum of job opportunities as well.

Although these MVEs want to hire people like you, does it necessarily follow that at least one of those companies wants to hire you? Maybe yes, maybe no. Even if the answer is ‘yes,’ does that mean you want to go to work for that company? Again, maybe yes, maybe no. Both parties answer those questions through an information exchange commonly referred to as interviewing.

Before you start interviewing to find your post-military career, you should know something about how an organization determines the best background for each opening. Many organizations profile their jobs before they begin the recruiting process. Each opening will have three associated profiles: academic, professional and personality. The first two are often classified as either preferred or required. The third one is always required.

Academic profile - This is frequently the first one in the equation. For most organizations, your academic and skills training has to meet certain minimum requirements before you can be considered for the opening. These may include high school graduation, courses of study in college, degrees conferred, degree equivalency, technical or trade schools completed, licenses and other classroom or academic-oriented certifications. Not-so-obvious criteria include academic performance (as reflected in class standing or grade point average) and honors. Additionally, some companies look very closely at your non-classroom activities during your academic endeavors.

Campus leadership, athletics, service organizations, clubs and volunteerism can be components of your academic profile. The circumstances under which you received your training will also receive scrutiny. Did you self-finance your education? Receive merit, academic or athletic scholarships? Work part- or full-time while completing your education? Were you deployed at the time or on remote assignment? Were you holding down a job and supporting a family? Were you serving your country?

Professional profile - Having passed through the company’s academic wicket, experience is the next category to be appraised. Many organizations will task their staffing personnel and recruiters to keep in mind a specific professional and experience profile for each of their openings. They use historical data to predict the profile for the type of individual who is most likely to succeed in that role. By screening resumes, application forms, service records, performance evaluations and military-to-civilian skills translators, they are able to identify candidates who appear to have the right professional skill set for each position.

What are they after? There is no single answer, as it varies from company to company and from job to job. For example, some companies prefer one branch of service to the others. Some have a preference for junior versus senior personnel; other companies may focus on line or staff assignments. Sometimes a specialization within a given branch is a requirement for the job. Frequently, companies look for a particular sequence of assignments or duty stations. Specific designations, military occupational specialties, clearances or certifications may be important.

The level of performance or degree of success is also scrutinized. An individual with an excellent track record will almost always be selected ahead of someone with average performance. For many companies, what you have done is not nearly as important as how well you have done those things. Previous success is an excellent indicator of potential success, even if the goals of the new organization differ from those of the former one.

Personality profile - Assuming safe passage through the first two profiles, this third profile enters the picture. Unlike the first two, having the right personality for the job is a requirement, not a preference. This profile also differs from the first two in another significant way - it is almost purely subjective. Academic and professional profiles can be appraised through an impersonal review of paperwork (resumes, performance evaluations, application forms, etc.), but an individual’s ability to match up to the personality profile of a particular position can only be determined through face-to-face meetings. Although some companies will utilize telephone interviews and/or testing services during the early stages of the interview process to get a feel for the candidate’s interpersonal skills, it is only through direct personal interviewing that they are truly able to determine the personality profile.

Getting to the personal interview stage is always a good sign because you normally only get to this step if the first two profiles meet or exceed the interviewer’s expectations. With this pre-screening already accomplished, it is the responsibility of the interviewer to see firsthand if the characteristics of your personality match the personality profile of the position. Although every company has its own set of standards for each opening, in general you can count on an appraisal of traits such as communication skills, impact, eye contact, body language, self-confidence, sense of humor, warmth, empathy, energy, integrity, honesty, friendliness, positive attitude, social skills, humility, work ethic, etc.

Assuming this appraisal is positive, you match up nicely against the three profiles for this position and you can expect an offer. Congratulations! Your search is over! Right? Not necessarily. Just because a company has decided to offer you the job does not mean that you will accept it. Your acceptance or rejection depends on a fourth profile - does the opportunity match your requirements?

Every job seeker must develop a set of decision criteria with which he or she will evaluate an opportunity. Once these criteria have been determined and prioritized, the candidate will know how well the opportunity matches up against what is important to him or her - that fourth profile. Although each individual determines his or her personal set, issues such as job satisfaction, growth potential, compensation, location and quality of life appear on most people’s lists. If the job offer matches up well with these criteria, either initially or potentially, then the fourth profile has been satisfied and the offer will probably be accepted.

Take a hard look at the Most Valuable Employers featured in this issue; you just might find your post-military career. 

Good hunting!

Tom Wolfe is a Career Coach, Columnist, Author and Veteran and can be found at www.out-of-uniform.com.

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