From time to time, when a blog post generates good discussion in one or more LinkedIn groups, I compile the comments and make them available for all groups to see. I do this to expose military communities and civilian human resources communities to one anothers’ points of view on issues affecting both. Last week’s blog post, entitled “Recruiters: Are You Part of the Problem?” is just such an opportunity. A group called The Intelligence Community had a robust exchange on the topic, and it appears first. Following are comments posted to other groups. If you would like to add to the dialogue after reading it, please send me your comments and I’ll compile and post next week.
The Intelligence Community
"My son works for a forensics firm and you can't imagine how many cleared people they have hired that couldn't do the work. They were all retired senior officers who only knew how to manage people. Their technical skills were 20 years old. The reason they were initially hired was to fill slots for bids on new contracts. As I am sure you know many of these contractors are working cost plus contracts that need volume to make money. Most of this work could be done with half the employees if they were the right half. The contractors thought for the day:" Thanks God the government hasn't figured this out.""
"Excellent link Emily, I 100% agree with the article. I know that personally, our firm takes great pride in putting our vets to work! It is the most rewarding part of our careers... Wish more firms were the same way..."
"I think there are good points to both sides, yes it is the recruiters job to ask questions and not just go by the resume, however as a job seeker it is important that you tailor your resume to use the terms in the industry you are applying to and simply assuming the recruiter will ask you to decipher your military experience into civilian/commercial terms isn't the answer. I can't speak for all the services, but I know when I left active duty in the Air Force, we had to go to a mandatory transition assistance program class and they offered mock interviews, resume writing tips etc and had local resources for help in those areas as well. Certainly veterans have allot to offer industry, but you have to be able to put it in terms they understand. It's not that different than say going transitioning out of the consumer goods manufacturing industry to retail or sales , each has its own terms and different titles and positions, while they require the same skill set, they might go about describing them with a completely different set of terminology."
"As the article points out, recruiters often either don't bother to review the resumes they receive or they have no idea about what the particular position requires--therefore, they really don't know if the resume is applicable or not. At the same time, many recruiters have what seems to be a "tag line" for a position, but no other information. This makes it difficult for the job seekers to tailor their resumes to fit the requirements of the position. There has to be a balance between client confidentiality and being able to provide enough information to the prospective applicant so that appropriate decisions can be made. For instance, I recently saw an announcement for some PTOC positions that required travel. The instructions requested that I submit an availability date and salary requirements. When I asked how much travel and to what locations, I was told that the answer was classified and no other information was available."
"I agree with Emily and Mike that it is a two way street for the resume and the recruiter. I absolutely see what you are saying about retired senior officers. The interesting thing is that an officers job is to lead and delegate others to do the work. You would probably get more of what you need from an enlisted soldier who was actually doing the job and presenting it to the officer. That is the way the structure is explained to us when we join the military and as we can see it as we serve. This is not an attack on officers or enlisted, but just my opinion."
"Perhaps if companies learned how to do a better job of hiring talent to fill corporate recruiter positions the problem would be lessened. Far to many companies excel at just re-filling what for many is a typically high turnover position, rather than investng in the right talent for the job. Under the glare of a simple fact that corporate management rarely believe the position requires training or people with relevant experience, it is they who tend to perpetuate the problem of poor recruiter recruiting skills generating routine scenarios such as you describe. Military men and women deserve the best opportunties they can qualify for... and getting shot down by recruiter ignorance (bourne of poor job understanding, compounded with on-the-job immaturity) of what they potentialy bring to the table is inexcuseable. Corporate America, take note. You not only harvest what you sow, you reap the hidden negative PR."
"While this article is focused on veterans, there are some lessons for civilans as well. I had a recent interview where I asked about my experience in a particular area (which I have tons of). Rather than use the specific jargon, I tried explaining how I used it in my work to help me understand the needs of my customers. The interveiwer shared with me later that until I actually used the jargon, she didn't think I knew anything about the topic (which told me she really didn't get it, but I couldn't say that to her). Unfortunately, I did not get the job but it taught me a lesson to be mindful of what the recruiter/hiring manager/interviewer may or may not understand about the position they are looking to fill."
Military Transition Interest Group
"I agree that recruiters need to do more to help vets "translate" their resumes. However, I don't think this is necessarily a fair example. Without seeing the candidates resume I can't tell you if he has a good point or not. There is a big difference between saying "Logistics Officer" and going into more detail. Too often candidates (both military and civilian) try the "one size fits all" resume and I can tell you as a recruiter for a good many years - that doesn't work. I sift through a couple of hundred resumes a day. It always amazes me how many people apply to positions for which they have absolutely no background, education or experience. The feeling seems to be "if they see my resume they will move it to the right place". I am a 10 year veteran of the US Army, a Vietnam Veteran with a service connected disability. I am the chair of our Veterans Network and do everything I can to help vets get ahead. However, vets need to help themselves. Do some research, don't wait for some recruiter that has no idea what the military is like to translate your resume. Make it current and make it relevant. This is the first military generation in history that will (more than likely) be interviewed by someone who was never in the military. Don't expect them to do the work for you."
LinkedIn HR Resources
"Thanks for sharing. I may add that many organizations today are even giving a rather passive role for recruiters for they don't even come into the picture until the end and that is to process the hire paperwork. Since people apply on-line, the candidates are automatically available to hiring managers. Hiring managers are doing the hiring and HR is not even involved in the interview process. I find that daily as I inquire about the status of my application and HR simply states that we are not involved in the screening and selection process. If you are selected, then we will contact you. We have to remember that the hiring managers are not HR professionals. How did we get to this point in the first place is my questions."
"Hooah! However, let's be fair, the civilian world is NEVER going to get it. A young sergeant (E5) usually at 21 years old has had more responsibility that anyone of his peers on the outside. Unfortunately, he does not realize it and cannot put it into words that civilians would understand. Now, take a 20 year Senior NCO or Officer...they can run any operation, under any circumstances, but the Officer will get a better chance than the NCO because (usually) the Officer has a degree where the NCO spent his time training seniors, peers and subordinates to do their jobs and not going to school. I know, I was one of them. After 22.5 years in the military, I'm just a minion. Not only do they not understand our experiences, but do not allow for the years of experience in "real world" situations that should account for lack of education. I cannot get my resume through the $8/hour fellow to get it into the hands of a hiring manager because the laky has a checklist to run down for the resumes that they screen and having a BA or BS is a requirement. I don't have a degree, I'm working on it, but I have all of the KSAs that many job announcements list, still no interview. How do we get past that?"
Defense & Aerospace
"Hands down: Some of the best candidates have come from military. And yes! You do need to 'read between the lines'! I agree whole-heartedly with this article."