I was delighted to meet Mike Bruni who joined us as a luncheon speaker at a recent Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Military Executives in Transition Workshop. Mike has more than 17 years of experience in human Resources, recruiting & staffing. He joined SAIC (now Leidos) in 2005 and was instrumental in standing up a centralized SAIC/Leidos Military Recruiting Program, Operation MVP to recruit top talent from all branches of the Military. Mike continues to lead the program to this day.
VSB: Mike, as a Talent Acquisition Manager focused on recruiting top military talent for Leidos, what do you see as the most important things senior military leaders should highlight in their outreach to a prospective private sector employer of interest?
MB: I’ve noticed that most veterans structure their resumes as generalists, combining all of their career experience. The best practice in the market today is to highlight specific skills, especially those that the person in transition wants to emphasize and that are more in line with the desired career track or occupation that one is pursuing. The more detailed and specific you can be in marketing yourself and in structuring your resume, the higher the likelihood of getting noticed and ultimately presented with an opportunity. Marketing as a generalist, particularly in the government contracting industry, tends not to get one much traction.
The more detailed and specific you can be in marketing yourself and in structuring your resume, the higher the likelihood of getting noticed and ultimately presented with an opportunity.
VSB: What are some of the more common missteps you’ve seen transitioning military leaders make as they begin their pursuit of civilian job opportunities?
MB: I don’t know that I would describe this as a misstep, but I believe one of the challenges that transitioning military leaders face is the ability to articulate and translate their expertise to potential employers. How certain experience and expertise translates can be confusing. The more research one can do on a particular industry or company, the better prepared one will be in pursuing that organization.
Career transition and job seeking is not a “One size fits all” approach. Preparation and the ability to market oneself to the intended audience is crucial. For instance, the marketing stance that you would take in pursuing a government contractor that provides services back to the Department of Defense would be very different from a marketing stance pursuing a large multi-national retail chain. The experiences and expertise translate differently to each intended target. Understanding your intended target audience and doing the research to tailor your marketing to that organization is the process to employ in order to overcome that challenge.
(T)he marketing stance that you would take in pursuing a government contractor that provides services back to the Department of Defense would be very different from a marketing stance pursuing a large multi-national retail chain. The experiences and expertise translate differently to each intended target.
VSB: What advice would you give to those trying to develop their personal brand to better stand out from their military and civilian competition?
- Assess yourself to find out what you really want to do and what you don’t want to do.
- Figure out in the marketplace who is looking for you and your expertise. Think about it this way: Who is most likely to find me valuable and an asset to their organization with my skillset? Once you can answer that question, target and market to those organizations.
- Organize your search and prepare yourself well before you approach a prospective employer.
- Blanketing a particular market with your resume is counterproductive in many ways. The more thought-out, prepared approach has a higher likelihood of being recognized and standing out from the competition.
- Organizations today are not only looking for qualified candidates, they are also looking for the “Best Fit”. They want employees who fit into the culture and can easily adapt to their environment. Do the research in advance to learn about a target organization’s culture, work environment, etc.
VSB: How much do you rely on LinkedIn as a means of identifying prospective candidates? How would you advise transitioning senior military leaders to develop positive visibility on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media sites?
MB: LinkedIn has over 300 million users. It is a very powerful and heavily used tool by prospective employers and recruiters; today almost 97% or recruiters state that they use LinkedIn for recruiting, so ensuring you have a solid LinkedIn profile is a no-brainer:
- My advice to anyone in career transition is to set up a LinkedIn Profile. LinkedIn is a great platform to market your skills and expertise.
- Market yourself with a professional picture.
- Maximize the fields to showcase your experience and career highlights, and upload material that shows the audience who you are (PPTs, Tailored Resumes, Podcasts).
- Use LinkedIn not only to broadcast your profile and as a means of advertising yourself, but also a proactive tool to seek out strategic contacts, researching organizations, and contributing; seek out companies, groups, recent and former contacts, fellow Service Members, and connect. Build a robust network and get recognized.
- The more you use LinkedIn, the more exposure you receive. Also, it is much more fun for a recruiter to use than an Applicant Tracking System so recruiters tend to spend more time on LinkedIn; it offers what a resume doesn’t. It brings to life your profile and resume.
(T)oday almost 97% or recruiters state that they use LinkedIn for recruiting, so ensuring you have a solid LinkedIn profile is a no-brainer.
VSB: Any other advice you’d like to share with our audience?
- Give a lot of thought about what you would like to do. Think about whether you would like to pursue a second career, act as a consultant, etc. Once you assess that and figure out what is it you want to do, then focus on where you would like to do it.
- Ask yourself these key questions: Which companies appeal to me? Which companies offer the type of opportunity that I want to take on? Is this the type of company that will be a good fit for me?
- Performing this self-assessment and preparing way in advance of submitting a resume or going into an interview will benefit you in both the short and long term. Understanding the landscape sets you up for long-term employment and growth.
- Align the opportunity and organization that you pursue with your own personal goals.
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