Are you tired and frustrated with the current job market? I think it falls to us now, the “Warrior Class,” to once again answer the call of our nation. It is up to us to change the landscape of our country’s economy. That’s where CONUS Battle Drills and companies like Lucas Group come into play. We cannot change it from the outside, but we can enter into Corporate America and into positions of authority in order to hire more of our veteran brothers and sisters. If we outperform our counterparts and move into positions which allow us to influence and develop the hiring practices of the company then that is where we can make real change. We will not only be helping the veteran community but the American economy as well. It seems all too often once we transition, we forget all about the others going through the struggle to land a great career opportunity. We don’t want to lose that sense of teamwork and camaraderie, the sense of taking care of your buddy. Your performance everyday at your job sets the conditions for the next group of transitioning veterans. You don’t have to be the CEO to make this change. Be the employee who your bosses use as the model for all future hires. They are going to look at your background and realize that what sets you apart from others is most likely your military service. Regardless, you can’t be that employee until you get your foot in the door. Be humble, be gracious, and be better than anyone you’re up against. Prepare effectively for your transition. Save money, network as much as possible, and chase opportunities over location or titles. Become an expert at interviewing. It’s like PT: you can’t skip PT everyday and expect to score a 300 on the APFT. The only thing you can control in this process is your own attitude. Here are a few lessons learned from helping veterans for the last 10 years to help set your expectations.
#1 – You need to go where the opportunities are.
A FORTUNE 500 Company doesn’t concern itself about your preference on location. They are looking for the right person who is willing to go where they are needed (sound familiar?). Go where you can help the company/team the most. You don’t need to be open to relocating anywhere in the world, but be as open as you possibly can. I promise it will be better than Fort Benning, Fort Bragg, Fort Sill, etc…
#2 – You’re not worth $100K right now.
It doesn’t matter what Unit you were in or how many badges and ribbons you earned. You are entering into this new corporate career with nothing but potential and raw talent. This is important, but it’s not everything. If a Private enlists at 32 years old with a college degree and work experience, the Army is not going to make them a Company Commander. The same rules apply in the corporate sector. Most job opportunities are not going to pay $100K to start, because you don’t have the industry experience or the institutional knowledge yet. However, you will learn very quickly and, as you get better, you will be compensated for it. I advise candidates I’m working with to have a long term goal of becoming the person you were in your last unit after 3-4 years. You were the person who people knew could get the job done, had a network of people who could rally in any circumstance, and you were someone who could be counted on to do the job right and on time. That’s the person everyone wants to hire, and you know you already are that person.
#3 – Get your foot in the door.
If you are lucky enough to land a career with a FORTUNE 100 or 500 Company seize these opportunities. My first boss, mentor, and fellow Infantryman here at Lucas Group, Andrew Hollitt, would say “you should be willing to clean the toilets at a company like this”. I always found that funny, but the longer I do this the more I think it’s true. Most of folks have no idea how many positions a big company fills every year internally. The opportunities you see on the job boards or LinkedIn are the ones they’re struggling to fill. Once you are hired, you’ll see how many places and directions you can go. I’ve placed job candidates just like you as productions supervisors and a year later they’re in Human Resources, Information Technology, Research & Development, etc.… That never happens if you don’t get your foot in the door. As Wayne Gretzky once said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
This section is for those of you who have already transitioned. I’ve been placing veterans for the past 10 years at Lucas Group, yet it always surprises me how little we hear from folks again when it’s their turn to hire. The entire veteran community needs your help! If you’re already out there in the workforce, hire a Veteran and, more importantly, set the conditions for his/her success. Your example sets the tone for future hires. It is so disheartening when we place a candidate and after 3 months on the job they make a poor decision, such as failing a drug test. Do you think that company is ever going to be excited to hire another veteran with that as a previous experience? That person has made it harder for future veterans to get a job there. We can never hire enough of our brothers and sisters. It’s like Army Transportation, “There’s always room for one more!”
Spend money where veterans are employed and with companies who support Veteran causes. That’s our power as consumers. I love companies such as Ranger Up, ART 15 Clothing, Grunt Style, The Chive, and I spend my money there. I can buy t-shirts and hoodies anywhere, but I’d rather spend my money knowing it’s going to companies that are veteran owned and operated and/or support our community. That is one of the most effective ways we can create real change.
We can find plenty to complain about with the current job market, our current jobs, etc., or we can roll up our sleeves and get to work. It’s really one of the only choices we have. It requires real hard work and, as veterans, we know that none of us are allergic to hard work! We have the ability to change lives and to make Veterans feel needed and wanted. Maybe it will help some of our brothers and sisters feel valued and needed enough to help prevent the rampant suicides we see amongst our veteran family. Maybe it will provide a fellow veteran with the means to take amazing care of his/her family and help him/her to be a better parent or spouse. We are capable of this and so much more. Let’s get to work!