Posted on Oct 8, 2014
Capt Brandon Charters
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I'd like to hear from the 1,500+ recruiters and hiring managers we have here inside RallyPoint.

Please give us the most sought-after skills you look for when evaluating a veteran candidate for a position. Feel free to rank these by level of importance. Also, what would be your biggest piece of advice for a transitioning military member looking for employment?

Please be as open and honest as possible.
We all need the hard truth!

For anyone seeking employment, please ask the burning questions you want recruiters to answer. I hope this can be a valuable discussion for us all.
Edited 7 y ago
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Responses: 26
MAJ George Hamilton
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We do not spend a great deal of time at SHC getting Recruiters and Hiring Managers to learn how to decipher a Veteran resume - we spend the bulk of our time coaching and mentoring Veteran candidates on how to accurately translate and sell what they have done in the service. We do make a consistent effort to educate our recruiters on the basics of military service, and the tools available to them when it comes to sourcing Veteran candidates, but it is not the primary focus of our program.

Candidates that can clearly articulate their service accomplishments to a recruiter are going to be far more successful than those that assume the recruiter should have to learn how to speak military. While that may seem harsh - it is not the job of a Talent Acquisition professional to assimilate into military culture - it is the job of the Veteran to assimilate into civilian culture.

When I am evaluating a Veteran candidate, I look for a few key things before passing them on to a recruiter for serious consideration.

1. Has their resume been translated? If it has, then it shows that person has made the effort to really understand how their military skills will transfer into the civilian sector. If not, it shows that they are not willing to make the effort to come halfway in the process.

2. Has the candidate expressed interest in a particular field/job, or are they coming to me with the "what do you have for me?" mentality? If a Veteran takes the time to apply to a specific position, and articulates why they want to work in that field or position, I am going to advocate for them. The ones that assume I am going to find a job for them with no effort on their part almost immediately hit my recycle bin.

3. How flexible is the candidate? Are they willing to move? Do they understand that coming out of the service they may take a slight pay cut? Do they have aspirations to move up the ladder in a company? Have they done research on the company they are talking to? Candidates that are open to location/salary and can tell me about the company I represent have my full attention. Those that want to live in one place, make $100K a year, and think they are going to be VPs right off the bat don't have my attention.

4. Does the Veteran feel like I owe him/her something, or do they understand that their service is another experience that they can use to their advantage in the interview process? No business owes a Veteran anything - period. Businesses hire Veterans because it makes good sense from a Talent Acquisition perspective - due to the incredible amount of maturity, people and asset management, and soft skills expertise that a Veteran brings to the table.

As a TA Program Manager - I see Veterans as a key talent source for any organization, but will assess them based on the same basic criteria I would any other candidate - skills, education, preparation, and desire.
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Capt Brandon Charters
Capt Brandon Charters
7 y
MAJ George Hamilton This is exactly what I was hoping to see from our recruiters. I really appreciate this thorough rundown and checklist of things you're looking for. I see the importance of #2 all the time. The easiest way to hit a home run with a recruiter is picking out a job that is available and properly matching up your skills with the requirements. If for some reason that isn't the right fit for the recruiter, then they will likely use your articulate description of skills to match you up with a better fit. Just keep in mind this part is no different from the military..."The needs of the Air Force" come before your own and companies work the same way with respect to open positions. Doing the homework in advance shows employers the kind of proactive nature you'll take on the job.
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Joseph Wong
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The most sought after skills for us, are the ones listed in the job description. As someone so eloquently put it above, we need to hire very specifically. Not one resume fits all sizes and even though it is a pain, you may have to rework your resume for every job you apply for. Make sure you are using the same terms in your resume as written in the job description. Why? Because corporate recruiters get 100's of resumes a day, and they are sometimes electronically prefiltered for us using the job description as the tempate.

That leads me to the translation of your resume. First, if you only put a description of your MOS as your job description, we assume you want to continue that MOS in the civilian world. So, if you are a 88Z Transportation Sr Sgt, I am going to assume that you would be looking for something in our Fleet Coordination or Fleet Management.

11B's, 0351's, etc will have to be more specific in what they want to do; even know what they don't want to do helps tremendously.

It is up to you to help me translate your resume into what you want to do. If you are unsure what you want to do, that's cool, but that's a very lengthy process on both of our parts and an extensive network helps tremendously.

Know the answers to the fundamental questions: Do you want to work inside, or outside? Do you want to work on something mechanical or something computerized? Do you want to work with many people or just a few? Would you consider a job in sales, or customer service? What are your interests? Have you pursued a degree? Do you want to use that degree? What kind of jobs have you heard of or know of that you'd be interested in?

I'd estimate that over half of the vets that I've spoken to this year, do not even have an answer for half of the questions above. I asked not to impeach them, but to try to help them hone in on a target and triangulate their job search.

Be patient: being a civilian, having a title "Recruiter" isn't the most favorable way to start a conversation with a veteran. I've found that there is an association with a "recruiter" and promises unfulfilled (as one of my veteran friends eventually told me). Be patient with us, most of us care deeply about the freedoms that Veterans have paid so dearly on our behalf. It is, at times, as hard for us to find you; as it is you to find us. Getting a career is difficult and time consuming.

Today, I average a 15 percent call back ratio by a vet.
That means, if I reach out to 10 vets about a job in RallyPoint, only 1-2 of them answer.
After scheduling 12 veterans for a job interview, in person.... 3 of them did not show up and 1 of them showed up in casual clothing.

If you do get a chance to interview, you are representing all of the veterans this hiring manager will see.

In fact, I'd like to ask veterans some of the attributes they have found in the best civilian recruiters that they have come in contact with? What did they do that was a differentiator? This helps me train my team and make sure they have a bearing on what matters to all of you.
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Capt Brandon Charters
Capt Brandon Charters
7 y
Awesome rundown Joseph Wong. I can understand the frustration on your end when you're not getting answers to the "what do you want to do" questions. I can tell you for certain that it was the most freeing (and frightening) experience to know I didn't have to wait for orders anymore. I could look at any job with somewhat relatable skill requirements and 'dream it'...unlike the military, where we are mostly pipelined based on AFSC/MOS. There was a good period of time where I had no clue what I wanted to do. This is not uncommon for many of us.

From my perspective, I always enjoyed it when recruiters would tell me what veterans are currently doing at their company. For example, I like going to a company page and seeing the former ranks & job codes displayed alongside current job titles to see where veterans are being placed.

Curious what your ratio is for non-veteran responses. If a higher percent, might this be due to the amount of companies seeking veteran talent and the 'franchise player' tag some veterans seem to carry because of it?
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Joseph Wong
Joseph Wong
7 y
Capt Brandon Charters thanks for the reply. You pose very valid questions. TWC is working on expanding our military website and putting an MOS translator on there. On our Youtube channel and our military landing page, we have videos of Vets doing certain jobs and talking about their experience. We hope to expand this, so Vets can see themselves in this industry. We have to do a better job in telling our story as a Vet friendly employer. i.e. Not many people know we have a full Apppreticeship program in the Carolinas that allows a Vet to use their GI Bill, while learning a trade (cable) and getting paid in a fulltime job.

Non Vet responses are often time much higher, because we are sourcing from our competitors. The civilian candidates have direct experience that they can relate back to our job description.
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SPC(P) Jay Heenan
SPC(P) Jay Heenan
7 y
Mr. Wong, it saddens me as a transitioning service member that so many "blow off" phones calls, interviews, etc. You are very accurate is saying that those who don't bother returning calls, or failing to show up to an scheduled interview gives that hiring manager a "bad taste", so to speak, about other Veterans and might chose not to attempt to contact another one. Thank you for your input, this will assist me greatly as I continue my transition.
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Lucas Buck
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First off, what I tell any Transitioning Veteran that I'm helping with their resume... is to brag! The Military is a place that houses a lot of humility and of course it's the ultimate team atmosphere. As much as team-playing is important, remember when it comes to your resume, you have to be ready to brag! Be humble in every aspect of your life except for your resume. Remember to give your resume a 5-10 second glance after it's done... did you pass your own 5-10 second test?

That's the window you have in getting from the "call pile" to "not call" pile. Once we separate the piles, we then give it a much more intense glance. So... brag early and brag often on your resume. I always suggest a "Summary of Qualifications." This is 5-6 bullet points your most proud of... what's separates you.

Years/dollar amounts are big for military resumes-converted-to-civilian-resume. "Oversaw $100m budget..." "Managed 25 troops," "Lead" "Taught" Managed" "Executed," key words like that.

Also, convert your Title into a civilian-type term. For instance... Captain in the Air Force = Mid-level management... use those terms of "Upper-level" or "Mid-Level" Management so a civilian recruiter unfamiliar with your titles, can decipher.

Hope this helps!
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