Always Be Connecting!We published this on May 2, 2016,
According to a year-old article on Defense One, What Americans Don’t Understand About Their Own Military, about only 3 to 4% of the US population serves in the military/industrial complex. That means Veterans leaving the service have a slim chance that the person across the desk interviewing them will understand anything they’re saying if they speak military.
Exacerbating this, as Recruit Military CEO and President Peter Gudmundsson has suggested, is the fact that civilian jobs fall into only 1 of 3 archetypes: making stuff, selling stuff, or counting stuff. You’ll notice lead stuff isn’t in there.
Lead stuff is a nice-to-have outside the gate, not a need-to-have. There are folks sitting in leadership roles on the organizational chart already. Often they’re the best whatever-they-are in their specialty or function or department, so they’re promoted to Boss, of which leadership is only a component.
This means you have to be able to convey to the hiring manager which one of these 3 archetypes you can do then: make stuff, sell stuff, or count stuff.
You have to connect the dots for them so they have a clear picture of who you are, what you can do for them, and what value that brings to them. On your resume and in your LinkedIn profile and interviews, you should Always Be Connecting! (The dots that is…)
I have a meta-process for this, and it works for many knowledge worker/management careers. Careers like finance, accounting, human resources, business analysis, and project management for example.
Let’s check it out.
Here is the process for translating the leadership, maturity, knowledge, experience, talent, and skills the military has given you into a professional career in a manner that civilians will understand. I’m going to show you how to learn to speak professional instead of military. It will make your military experience familiar to the hiring manager.
Step 1: Figure out what things you would find meaningful in a post-Service career. For example, would you enjoy assessing operational performance and making recommendations to improve it? Or would you rather take care of people or resources. Would you enjoy selecting the most profitable courses of actions to make the company more profitable? Or would you rather identify and solve problems. Finally, maybe you enjoy building small high-performing teams to carry out temporary, unique endeavors to change and execute strategy.
These are all roles you’ve been prepared to do and are doing in uniform, and they have correlates in the professional arena. For example, I’ve just described accounting which is count stuff, like money and resources. Or human resources manager, which also counts stuff but can be make stuff; like a larger workforce of more efficient and effective employees. You also might like financial manager, which ultimately sells stuff such as project ideas/solutions to internal leadership and external customers to grow revenue. Related to financial managers and project managers are business analysts, who make stuff by developing solutions to solve business and process problems, and project managers. PMs make stuff, i.e. projects, your company can change strategy with to become more profitable or sell to increase revenue.
Step 2. Now that you have a field identified, identify whether it has a governing body that authors/stewards a Body of Knowledge (BOK) and a corresponding professional certification or credential that demonstrates a command of that BOK.
For example, those correlates discussed in Step 1 above, have professional BOKs and certificates and credentials, as discussed in Step 2. BOKs and certificates/credentials like the CPA for accountants, the SHRM/PHR for human resource managers, the CFA or CMA for financial managers, the PMI-CBA or IIBA’s CBAP for business analysts, and the PMI PMP/CAPM for project managers.
Step 3. Now simply translate your military experience into the lexicon of the BOK you like and pass the exam! Hiring officials looking at your resume now will see a candidate familiar to them! You’ll sound like the professional they know, and they know a third party has validated your military-translated-to-professional experience to let you sit for the exam! They know exactly how much to pay accountants, human resource professionals, financial managers, business analysts, and project managers. They do it all the time!
In summary, when your resume depicts your military experience, talents, and skills in the lexicon of a profession you want to pursue, i.e. its BOK, and it’s validated with a professional certificate or credential, civilians hiring managers will immediately recognize what you can do for their company! You’ve connected the dots for them! This means:
- They know what title to give you;
- They know where to place you when they hire you;
- They know what salary to give you;
- They know how to develop you as a professional within their company;
- They can hire you, because they recognize you!
They know how to hire you!
Eric Wright is a two-service, two-era Military Veteran; Co-Founder and CEO of Vets2PM; an experienced, credentialed project manager and mentor; and an entertaining instructor/public speaker on project management, PMI’s PMP and CAPM exams, and on project manager development. He helps Military Veterans become Project Managers through inspiration, training, preparation, and presentation to the PM hiring community.