- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This is a well-written, thoughtful blog post that made me think — as did the entire discussion. Thanks to all who participated, not just Mr. Kennedy. It also meets my metric of being better than most of my own posts:
"I left the Regular Army as a captain and went to work for a global corporation. I have several colleagues at work who also left the Regular Army as captains and now have good jobs (more on the officer side later). That is why it pains me to write this below:
I have had very limited success with hiring vets. The positions I need to fill are entry level and require a high school diploma only. Starting out several years ago, I thought that these jobs would be perfect for the typical 21 to 24-year-old first- or second- term enlistee who decided to get out and start laying roots. So I hired a few people like that.
Without getting into the details, my experience has been that the vets I hire expect too much from the employer while also expecting high praise for no accomplishments. We offered full medical and dental coverage, 401K, three weeks paid time off to start, and a 40 hour work week. Nearly all the vets I hired failed to learn how to manage their benefits. They didn’t understand why they had a $20 co-pay at the doctor. They didn’t participate in the matching 401K because they didn’t want to see the deduction on their pay stub. They didn’t understand why they couldn’t all take two week’s vacation at the same time (Christmas). Et cetera.
Worse, the typical vet was not ready to work. We track productivity by employee and I consistently found the vets near the bottom. After speaking and working with these guys, it’s apparent that their attitude and work ethic is lacking. Many of them had a standoff-ish attitude among their coworkers because they’d deployed and so-and-so stayed home. Generally, their work habits were focused on avoiding tasks and generally hanging back to allow others to accomplish their work for them. They very much prefer to find a small task and extend it as long as possible in order to give the appearance of productivity.
I haven’t given up, but the last three years have been a big wake-up for me as a civilian employer who also has military experience.
On the officer side: Just because CPT so-and-so got out after commanding a company and got an MBA does not mean he will step into an executive position. Officers might have to take a pay cut from their O-3 grade to get into a new career. And, you will never step into a position over 120 employees like you had as a commander.
The biggest fear of a civilian employer (at least, me) is that you will get hired, and then drone on in your office without learning anything about your new career and without managing your own advancement. You can not just wait out your civilian position, take a professional development course, and then get an automatic promotion.
So, here are some ideas for the guys getting out:
– Use the headhunter recruiting companies to get connected if you don’t already have an ‘in’ somewhere. Simple, but they stay in business because they work.
– Don’t copy your OER duty description or award bullets into your resume. It’s lazy and we can tell.
– Emphasize your accomplishments over your technical duty description. If you were rated as a ‘top 3 platoon leader in the battalion,’ put that in your resume instead of your property book value. Signing for $1 million in equipment is not an accomplishment.
– Don’t talk down to civilians who don’t have military experience. Sounds simple but I hear it a lot. Also, you might not even know who you’re talking to. (I’ve had an AF vet try to tell me that his four month deployment was harder than the Army’s twelve month deployment because he ‘couldn’t get settled.’)
– Have a good reason why you are leaving you military career. It can’t be because it’s too much work or you can’t get promoted. We know how easy it is to get promoted and we don’t want to hire a drone."