Posted on Nov 12, 2013
MAJ Joseph Parker
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Rank is so strongly imbedded into the service member's psyche that there is often an expectation on their part that the private sector employer automatically takes rank into consideration when reviewing the service member for a job. For example: a former BG may (or may not) be a stronger candidate than a former MSG or former LTC because the BG had attained a higher rank. Likewise, would a potential employer who is a former service member have a stronger or less strong consideration of rank? Please assume that the candidates' technical qualifications are otherwise equal. Responses from veterans and retirees who have been down this trail, and those of active duty service members are greatly appreciated. Your frank, straightforward responses will be used by my corporation and me in our future HR hiring processes. 
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Responses: 32
Sgt Nicholas Chappell
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Sir,

Having been recently retired I find myself playing the job game. I have recently found a decently paying job (for now) close to my house. They highered me on the spot due to my military background. However, that is as far as it came into play in my position. I was told during the interview by my current supervisor that he was looking at me to be a Lead in another department. When I showed up for my first day of work I was at the bottom of the totem pole in an entirely different department.

It is my understanding that most employers just care if you served or not. They don't really care about your rank. They want to see what you can do for their company which isn't a bad thing either. I have since moved my way up 3 positions and have set a goal for myself to be a Department Lead within 2 years. My current Lead absolutely loves me and I have already received a higher than average pay raise as a result.

Basically, having served gets your foot in the door, but its up to the member to show what they can do once given the opportunity and prove they want to be there.
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MAJ Joseph Parker
MAJ Joseph Parker
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Your experience is not unusual. Many employers "play it safe"  on a new hire, especially a vet/retiree, during the probationary period to see if the hire can make the adjustment to a civilian work style. If they do so, promotion is normally rapid. Both you and your employer have benefitted (congratulations!). But then, perhaps if that employer had understood your leadership capability by your rank achievement, you would already be at that Department Lead? I don't know! However, I DO know that I don't want former service members working in my corporation any lower or higher than their capability. How big an indicator is rank? You are helping us decide that now. Thank you!
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LtCol Dann Chesnut
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The first thing:  Get over yourself.  Civilian employers for the most part don't care about your rank in the military, and usually don't understand it anyway.  I do not, and have not for a while now, even mentioned my rank.  My resume identifies the position and responsibilities that I had in civilianized language.  This comes from experience in the job market.  It is education, training, and experience coupled with what are called "soft" skills like leadership, initiative, and attention to detail that matter to civilian employers.
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MAJ Joseph Parker
MAJ Joseph Parker
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Thank you LTC Chestnut. Not sure what you mean by "get over yourself". However, the question here is meant to stimulate discussion on the SM's perceptions of how the employer takes their rank into account. The feedback so far has been helpful, especially since my company is doing the hiring and I am trying to get an HR function that can anticipate the SM's expectations and capabilities. 
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MAJ Craig Clark
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I’ve been hiring x-military since getting out of the Army
myself in 1996 and my experience is that candidates who were Senior Ranking
enlisted / officers, usually had a difficult time finding positions.   Most
times they feel like they should start off too high in an organization or
expect too much money and while their leadership skills are transferable, they
have no experience in the industry in which they are applying and aren’t
readily willing to accept that fact.  Another
way to illustrate my experience is that unless Senior Enlisted / Officers are
able to accept the fact that they no longer enjoy a certain “instant” respect
their rank provided them in the military and are willing to follow whoever they
are working for, they won’t be long for whatever position they were hired
for.  Most times their managers will be
younger, have never served and candidates have to resist the propensity to try
to “mentor” their new boss no matter how screwed up they are.  They also have to resist the urge to take
over projects where their boss or a co-worker is foundering, for without a
great deal of tact, their manager will see it as disruption in the workplace or
even a challenge to the others authority and will get them terminate. 



I simply don’t see a lot of senior enlisted or senior
offices looking for positions in the civilian workforce but rather my
experience is they tend to gravitate to GS positions or where their rank more
easily transfers into a position.  Junior
officers and junior NCO/enlisted, however, I’ve never experienced any of the
above issue with them.  They’ve always
been eager to learn, jump in, no issues with ego, are comfortable being a
member of a team, etc… and have mentored and developed more than 30 over the
years. 



As far as getting preference or “points” for rank, I haven’t
seen it in the civilian world.  However,
if I’m comparing two equal military candidates, both interview the same, both
want the same salary, etc… I absolutely will give consideration to a candidate
who was a Ranger, SF, Seal, Jumpmaster, etc... over a candidate who had no special
military certifications.   It was a differentiator
in the military and they are differentiators for me if I’m comparing to
completely equal candidates.   You should
always have a copy of your DD214 with you when interviewing and be sure not to
embellish your military experience in the interview or while on the job.  I terminated a COO and a Plant Manager in the
past for falsifying their military record on the job application (stolen valor).  People figure that stuff out, where you really
were and what you did vs. what you say you did. 
Be proud of your accomplishments, don’t embellish and be happy to
provide your DD214 to anyone who wants to see it.



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MAJ Joseph Parker
MAJ Joseph Parker
8 y
Interesting and informative post, thank you MAJ Clark! I know "head hunter" organizations demonstrably prefer junior officers for placement over senior officers, and your observations may very well be the reason why. I also like your comment about special operations people: rangers, SF, etc.; as (in general) that has been my experience as well. However, I'm not sure if an employer can legally ask to look at a candidate's DD214 - will have to check on that. There are certainly ways to check on a person's military (and civilian) qualifications and we do that. This will be very useful. I would like to cite a few more things with you, but do not wish to bias additional incoming responses.
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