Nov 11

Honoring Veterans 365 Days a Year

Though it has become commonplace for civilians to thank military members in uniform for their service, a deeper acknowledgement and appreciation of veterans’ sacrifices and experiences occur with far less frequency.

At a certain level, it is difficult for those who have not served in one of the five Armed Forces to truly understand the life or death decisions that have to be made in an eye-blink, often with irreversible consequences. Or to appreciate the difficult responsibility of letting parents know their young soldier is not coming home again. Or to know what it means to train for months and years to become part of a team of people who will put their own lives on the line to keep each other out of harm’s way and achieve the intended mission.

At a certain level, it is difficult for those who have not served in one of the five Armed Forces to truly understand the life or death decisions that have to be made in an eye-blink, often with irreversible consequences.

Is it any wonder that, upon separation from military service, many veterans feel as though they have been left alone on an island, uncertain about their own next steps? It takes more than the offer of a job or a “thank you” on Veteran’s Day to truly honor service members no longer wearing the uniform.

It takes more than the offer of a job or a “thank you” on Veteran’s Day to truly honor service members no longer wearing the uniform.

Here is how you can make a difference in the life of a transitioning veteran:

 

  1. Become a mentor. Listen to concerns, be a sounding board, provide guidance and remain a solid presence in the veteran’s life; don’t abandon ship once the vet has landed a job.
  2. As an employer, once you hire a veteran, make sure your on-boarding program goes beyond the typical administrative focus on leave policies. Give the individual time to meet co-workers, ask questions, learn the overall agency/corporate mission and understand the new culture.
  3. The sooner you can engage the veteran as a contributing member of a productive team, the smoother the workplace transition will be, regardless of rate or rank.
  4. Find ways to engage veterans in the community. Nonprofit organizations will find that veterans, on the whole, have much to contribute as board members, hands-on volunteers and in other capacities. Take the time to connect with veterans and let them know their time, expertise and engagement is truly welcome.
  5. Remind the veterans you know that you “have their six.” Whether you are a family member, friend, relative or neighbor, let transitioning veterans know you are ready to look out for them and their families in whatever way you are able.

Let’s show our veterans that honoring their service to country is what we do 365 days a year; let them know they are not alone in their journey back to civilian life.

Sep 23

Tough Love from a Retired Navy Vet

SultanRecently, I came across some “tough love” advice from career transition and LinkedIn expert, Sultan Camp, who writes a monthly blog and shares his perspective as a recruiter on Twitter and through other social media. I asked Sultan to share some of his thoughts with our readers:

VSB: Many senior military leaders struggle with how to begin developing a civilian job search strategy while, at the same time, still giving their all to the military service that has been their professional and personal home for so many years. What advice would you give to help these leaders avoid waiting until days before retirement to start working on what comes next? 

Camp: Let’s imagine that you’ve been given an OPORDER to deploy to a hostile environment. Would you wait until you’ve set the navigation detail or started your deployment to begin developing your OPLAN training, assessment, evaluation, and tracking the metrics on your PO&AM? Of course not, yet that’s what a lot of senior military professionals do every single day when it comes to their own transitions.

When you receive your OPORDER to separate from Active Duty, it will be one of your most challenging assignments: deployment to a “place” you have never been before. Preparing two years in advance is generally agreed upon as being optimum. That way you can gather intelligence, practice training scenarios, get evaluated, review lessons learned, receive feedback and track your progress.

We are in an era where the Federal Government is shedding jobs at a historic rate; competition for Federal jobs is literally pitting Veterans against civilians. Terms such as “Lowest Price Technically Acceptable” and “sequestration” are common place in today’s world of shrinking defense budgets and reduced contracts.

 

VSB:  You’ve been quoted as saying that a senior military leader’s resume should not be a history paper, filled with details designed to showcase an illustrious military career? What strategies would recommend instead?

Camp:

1. Find one of your peers who has recently transitioned and gotten hired. Ask to see his or her resume that was used to get the job. You may find that there are components of it that would be relevant to you as well, but at the same time, it will be important to make it contextual and unique to reflect who you are and the talents you bring to a prospective employer.

2. You may also want to ask your colleague HOW he or she got the job. I’m pretty sure that you’ll quickly discover something that you already know. In both the public and private sectors, it’s NETWORKING that will get you those opportunities.

3. Don’t wait until you have 90 days left to start “testing” your resume; this puts you at a huge disadvantage. Even though hiring managers won’t seriously want to hear from you until you are 90 days out, start applying for positions about 6-8 months away from your availability date to “test the waters” so that you can see if you get any callbacks requesting interviews. If you’re not getting calls or are only getting calls for sales positions, that’s a true indication that your resume is failing you. Better to find that out sooner rather than later.

 Don’t wait until you have 90 days left to start “testing” your resume; this puts you at a huge disadvantage.

VSB: What are some of the best ways senior leaders in transition can market themselves to stand out from their military and civilian competition?

 Camp: Each day, 600-800 service members are  transitioning off of active duty, which means that at least 150-200 officers leave the service every day. Translation: You are going to have to stand out from both your military and civilian competition.

One way to do that is to leave your rank at home and push yourself to get out and meet people. I know that this can be difficult. You worked hard to reach this point in your military career, but trust me when I tell you that those of us on this side of the uniform can tell when someone is wearing their rank even if they are wearing a business suit and it does not leave a good impression. As you network, in person and online, make it a point to listen more than you speak; learn more about the people that you meet and discover ways to help them. One of the best ways to do this is to ask “What are the biggest challenges that you are addressing in your current role?” Offer to help and then do what you say that you’re going to do.

Develop a reputation as a linchpin or connector outside of the military.

In addition, make the effort to join and participate in at least two professional organizations. For example, you may want to consider joining one with a military affiliation, such as the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and then join another one that reflects your intended industry. Ideally you should try to do this 24 months in advance of your transition. One or two evenings invested each month will yield more return in terms of gaining industry insight and, more importantly, building your reputation and network outside the military. Also, consider LinkedIn Groups as a virtual way of doing this, but, don’t let it be a substitute for in-person networking.

On a final note, get past your reservations, learn as much as you can and embrace the use of all of the Social Networking Sites as a Professional (yes, that includes Facebook and Twitter).

 You worked hard to reach this point in your military career, but trust me when I tell you that those of us on this side of the uniform can tell when someone is wearing their rank even if they are wearing a business suit

VSB: Any other advice you’d like to offer?

Camp: Realize the importance that geographic flexibility plays in terms of income, types of jobs and employability. I know that the temptation is to “buy the house and settle down once and for all.” However, when location becomes your top priority, it means that salary and the type of job take a number two and three ranking. I understand that this may be unavoidable because of family considerations, but any recruiter can tell you that the more flexible you are in your transition, the more opportunities you can create and that may be opened up to you.

Secondly, as you build your network, find ways of keeping in touch. Social networking helps in this endeavor. You can periodically post relevant articles, maybe even create a blog that would be of interest to those in your online networks.

Create a 360 degree professional network by going to LinkedIn and searching for those old Commands or units that you were attached to using the search bar. Then take a look at the profiles that show up in the search results. Chances are, that young O-3 or E-5 who separated four, six or 10 years ago may now be in a position to link you to a great civilian career opportunity.

Finally, get out there and start building your business wardrobe and start wearing it as you network (hint: ditch the uniform). You’ll be amazed how much this simple act will help you in your mental preparation to hang up the uniform and make you more approachable by civilians.

Sultan Camp is a 20-year Navy veteran, a recruiter with Orion International and is based in Norfolk, VA. Feel free to contact him via LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter at @careersultan.. Sultan works with Navy candidates who are 4-18 months from transition who are planning their career search and preparing for their transition from Active Duty.

Aug 05

Differentiate Yourself from the Competition

We all know it is essential to stand out from the crowd in the competition for a great job. What are the specific steps you need to take to really make that happen?

megguiseppiI turned to Meg Guiseppi, an experienced c-suite, executive career guru whose advice has been featured and quoted in Forbes, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal’s FINS, Inc.com, Fortune, CMO.com, PBS’ Next Avenue, and other locations.

VSB: Meg, why is it so vital for senior executives to use social media as part of their executive job search?

MG: First, and foremost, senior executives need to have an online presence because recruiters and hiring professionals are Googling “their name” to assess their viability as candidates. Those with a more far-reaching online footprint (that is, more relevant search results for their name) are viewed as more desirable than those with limited or non-existent online presence.

Networking is the best way to land a job. You need to identify the right people to network with – recruiters and employees at the companies you’re targeting – and “meet” them where they hang out. These days, most of them are active on social media – LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – so you need to be there, too.

Most hiring professionals go to LinkedIn first, to search for and assess candidates, based on relevant keywords. If you have no LinkedIn profile, or an anemic one with few of your particular relevant keywords, you’re probably invisible to them.

But also, these people are looking online for “social proof” backing up the claims you’ve made about yourself verbally and in your resume, if you’ve already reached out to them. So it’s important to build a diverse online presence to provide them with plenty of information about you. And, it’s important to regularly monitor your search results, so you can deal with digital dirt, if necessary.

(S)enior executives need to have an online presence because recruiters and hiring professionals are Googling “their name” to assess their viability as candidates.

VSB: What are some of the most effective strategies to build a personal brand to differentiate oneself in this competitive job market?

MG: Branding for job search is all about identifying and communicating the attributes, motivating strengths, values, areas of expertise, skill sets, and other qualifications you possess that the companies you’re targeting are looking for. Knowing this “insider” information helps you create brand-reinforcing content that generates chemistry for you and will resonate with your target employers.

This means that, before you can define and develop your personal brand, you need to identify a good list of companies or organizations (say, 15-20) that will be a good mutual fit, and then research each one to find out what makes you potentially valuable to them.

“Differentiation” is the key with branding. Too many job seekers create personal marketing content (resume, LinkedIn profile, etc.) that reads pretty much the same as their competitors’. Sameness won’t distinguish you and position you as the best hiring choice in today’s competitive job market. Differentiation is what makes you stand out over and above your competitors . . . and sells you to your target employers.

 “Differentiation” is the key with branding. Too many job seekers create personal marketing content (resume, LinkedIn profile, etc.) that reads pretty much the same as their competitors’.

VSB: What differentiates an Executive Resume from the resume of a mid-level manager?

MG: No matter what your professional level, your resume is a personal marketing document designed to help you land interviews. The content that needs to be in anyone’s resume is driven by what their target companies’ current needs are and how they’re uniquely qualified to help them meet those needs.

At the executive level, especially the very senior level (EVP, c-suite, President, etc.), qualifications that are important to include in the resume lean more towards leadership capability. For instance, motivating teams to excel and build revenue, managing global operations, and turning around failing businesses are typically the kinds of qualities companies seek in top-level executives. But they may also be important for lower level executives and managers.

 

VSB: What are some of the most common mistakes you’ve seen executives make throughout the job search process?

MG: The biggest one is trying to circumvent the targeting process and going straight to writing their resume without enough focus, which results in content that’s too generic and doesn’t hit home with anyone.

Another very common mistake is spending the majority of job search time on various job boards, responding to job postings. Considering that only about 5% of jobs are landed through job boards, doesn’t it make more sense to limit your time there, and spend most of your time on the method that yields something like an 80-90% success rate . . . that is, networking?

 

VSB:  How can senior leaders in transition accelerate their executive job search?

MG: My best advice is to spend some time learning about today’s job search . . . reputable resources abound online . . . and understand the linear path it takes, so you can avoid missteps.

Follow this checklist to get on board with best practices for today’s executive job search:

1. Get clear on what kind of job you want, who your target employers are, what their needs are right now, how you can help them, and who their key hiring decision makers are.

2. Define your executive brand and differentiate your unique value from your competition.

3. Get your resume, bio and other career marketing materials together as the foundation for your brand communications.

4. Move your brand communications online with LinkedIn and other social media, and start building a diverse, vibrant online presence.

5. Put your online and offline brand communications to work in all your networking efforts.

6. Work on circumventing the gatekeepers at your target companies and connecting directly with the key hiring decision makers and other employees, where they hang out online and offline.

7. Cultivate relationships with several executive recruiters who specialize in your niche.

8. Prepare to excel in job interviews.
——————————————————–

Meg Guiseppi is author of “23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search and How Your Brand Will Help You Land” (http://executivecareerbrand.com/personal-branding-and-executive-job-search-books/executive-branding-job-search-ebook/). She has partnered with senior-level and c-suite executives for 20+ years to help them differentiate and strategically position their unique ROI for today’s executive job search, and Land a GREAT-FIT New Gig!™

You can connect with Meg at ExecutiveCareerBrand.com, on Google+ (https://plus.google.com/118226084984360329063/about) and Twitter (@MegGuiseppi).

Jul 08

Career Transition is Not One Size Fits All

Mike BruniI 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?

MB:

  • 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?

MB:

  • 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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Jun 20

” Leverage Your Military Leadership “

As a senior military executive, you have demonstrated your leadership skills as you have built teams, provided vision, and given the leaders of tomorrow the opportunity to learn and grow. Moving forward into your next career, how will you “leverage” your military leadership and highlight the specific skills you will bring to a private, public or nonprofit employer? 

bernadine_karunaratneRecently, I connected with Bernadine Karunaratne, President, U.S. Government Consulting Services, at Korn Ferry, where she leads the firm’s Leadership and Talent Consulting government team. She addressed several key points including employers’ desire to find candidates with the right personality fit, in addition to having the right skill set to do the job successfully.

VSB: What are some of the best ways for senior military leaders to highlight their strengths and talents with retained recruiters?

BK:

  • The first step is having the right mindset. As a transitioning military leader, you have world-class training that makes you a valuable asset to many types of civilian organizations. Take the time to analyze those skills and strengths.
  • Highlight differentiators and commonalities between military work and “civilian” work in resume, CV, and interview. Determine and define transferrable skills.
  • Prepare ahead of time walk-throughs of military leadership events/examples and how they relate to or can be utilized in non-military situations.
  • Emphasize servant leadership. Military leaders exemplify the concept of a leader acting selflessly, helping their charges improve their effectiveness in pursuit of their particular Service’s mission.
  • Play up your strengths as veterans; as a group, you are known for precise communication, individual accountability, impeccable execution and natural leadership. Don’t forget to showcase this during the interview. All four skills are in high demand, regardless of position. Give yourself credit for strengths that many non-military job candidates lack. Other key skills to play up: poise, ingenuity, and ability to handle stressful situations well.

Go into transition with goal of advancing and developing your career, not just switching from military to civilian. 

VSB: Based on your experience, what are the most common mistakes made by transitioning military leaders as they begin their job search in the civilian workforce?

BK: 

  • Failure to step away from military top-down leadership style versus a collaborative sometimes ambiguous decision-making style. Leaders need to adjust their perspectives, for example, on hierarchy, chain of command, and urgency. Those concepts are not unimportant, but depending on the organization, processes and projects will probably be handled differently. 
  • As people who have most likely been in service for several years, military leaders have ingrained ways. They sometimes have the inability to leave military jargon and approaches behind. They need to keep the discipline and dedication without the “ma’ams” and “sirs” and “oh-800” instead of “8 a.m.” Employers appreciate the demonstration of accountability towards a role, but perhaps not the rigidity or adherence to rank. 
  • The worst thing one can do during an interview is to use acronyms and military terms that will mean nothing to a civilian recruiter.  Speaking in plain English and presenting a comprehensive story about oneself is more relevant to a potential non-military career.

(M)ost failures in hires are based on fit, not capability. As we have found out in matching executives with companies over the years – people are hired for what they know, they are fired for who they are.

 

VSB: How do executive search firms ensure a good cultural fit between prospective candidates and the hiring company?

BK:  In most instances companies will find three to four qualified candidates per executive position. All candidates will have equal experience and qualifications for the job. Yet only a few will “fit.” In fact, most failures in hires are based on fit, not capability. As we have found out in matching executives with companies over the years – people are hired for what they know, they are fired for who they are. Of course all roles will not fit all people, but veterans who successfully make the transition will be flexible in their approach to new roles.

 

VSB: Many senior military leaders are seeking an opportunity to work outside the defense sector in their second careers. What advice would you give to help them market their talents and experience more effectively to non-defense related employers?

BK: 

  • Go into transition with goal of advancing and developing your career, not just switching from military to civilian
  • Social networks liked LinkedIn and old-fashioned face-to-face networking are invaluable in showcasing talents in front of a different set of potential employers. 
  • Define your purpose and brand.  This is easier said than done, but with the help of a coach or a program like Leveraging Military Leadership Program (LMLP), a transitioning veteran can really explore how a leader would define him/herself and what he/she represents. For example, if you led large teams in deployments to new regions, highlight change management and leading globally under adversity for a corporation entering new markets. 
  • Emphasize your leadership skills, especially those that apply universally. If you transformed a group of soldiers or introduced a technology platform to streamline processes, those are skills that could be of benefit to a plethora of organizations. 
  • Ensure that you ask yourself, “Am I applying for the appropriate jobs?” Especially at the senior level, leaders must seek jobs that match their level of experience.  
  • Adapt your job title so it is more familiar to those non-military people looking at your resume. This can be done by explaining your responsibilities and helping to make a connection to a non-defense job title.

Jun 14

Continuing to Serve in Your Post-Military Career

dailey-head-shot-civ

Over the past two years, I have interviewed several former military leaders who decided to pursue the nonprofit sector as a second career or as  a volunteer experience. It is clear that many find the continued commitment to mission and a desire to help others to be a natural fit following a long military career.  Retired USAF Chief Master Sergeant Frank Dailey, II  has found his nonprofit career to be especially rewarding.  Currently, he serves as Director of Therapeutic Programs at Heroes on the Water.

VSB: How did you decide to give the nonprofit sector a try? 

Dailey: When I retired from the military, I was not in a hurry to jump right back into business world, I had a short stint as a contractor and realized it was not my cup of tea.

Part of my personal resiliency was to volunteer with a charity, Heroes on the Water, a 501(c)3 that takes wounded, injured and recently returning warriors kayak fishing as a part of their repatriation and resiliency. I was used to analyzing processes and looking for improvements, so I wrote a paper and sent it to the president of the charity. In it, I challenged him to be proactive and directly engage returning active duty members with the tools they would need to reduce some of the stress.  This paper caught the eye of the senior leaders on the Board and the President and CEO.  Within a few weeks, I was interviewed and put on the team. From a hiring perspective, I will warn everyone that the nonprofit community often moves slower than even the military in bringing someone on board.

VSB: Were you concerned about the likelihood of a lower salary than one might gain in the private sector?

Dailey: I was lucky enough to have strong investments coupled with a full military and medical retirement that provided a combined salary better than what I earned on active duty.  It is always a dream to have a job that had me fishing and working with our nation’s best.  It was an easy positive choice for my family and my life.  My family was happy with the person that emerged from the uniform.  I was told by one of the my trusted mentors that you will often have three to four career changes before you find the right one.  Working with a charity introduces you to a broad range of leadership roles that will build your experience.

VSB: How has this experience eased your transition from a military career into civilian life?

Dailey: By doing something I truly loved and feeding my servant’s heart, it made me stronger and a better advocate for Veterans and the community.  I had a lot of stress lifted off my shoulders because I was providing for my family.  My sense of pride in what we are achieving is a reward you cannot measure; it made rising at 4 am to get on the flats with the guys, just a day in the office.  Our impromptu business meetings are held on the water.  Most importantly, I am able to help other people who have been through something few would ever comprehend and am able to help them on their journey all the way home!

One thing I find in my work is that most of us joined to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, by doing something that feeds that desire to serve.  We can achieve a true sense of who we are beyond the uniform.

VSB: What advice would you offer to those currently preparing for separation from military service?

Dailey: If you are able to accurately predict your income and retirement and manage your debts and needs, taking time for a year of service may be the best thing that you can ever do.  Doing this will allow you to adjust your priorities, put a price on quality of life, give you a chance to focus on the wounds you have endured during your time in the military and focus on service.

One thing I find in my work is that most of us joined to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, by doing something that feeds that desire to serve.  We can achieve a true sense of who we are beyond the uniform.  It also introduces you to a host of different experiences.  In January 2014, the President and CEO and I visited 21 members of the Congress and Senate.  We briefed multiple General Officers and titans of industry at the Pentagon, Boeing and the HQ Veteran’s Administration.  Never underestimate the impact and potential of time in the nonprofit sector as the springboard to your next career.

Heroes on the Water (www.heroesonthewater.org) is a nonprofit organization that serves our nation’s warriors by providing healing and rehabilitating kayaking and fishing outings that are physically and mentally therapeutic through a nationwide community of volunteers and donors.

Jun 02

Applying for Senior Executive Service Jobs

Corliss-HeadshotEntry into the Senior Executive Service (SES) is a path often considered by transitioning military leaders interested in continued public service at the Federal level.  The application process is intensive and requires a clear understanding of the process, terminology and information expected. While you may be encouraged to create a two – three page resume for a private sector job search, the federal application process, and the SES application process in particular, has very different requirements.  Before you begin, you may wish to tap the insights and experience of former colleagues who have successfully navigated the SES application process on their own.

In the Washington, D.C. area, I recently connected with Corliss Jackson, President and CEO of Federal Job Results, whose company provides professional assistance to clients with Federal job search and application.  Corliss is a Certified Federal Career Counselor, Certified Federal Job Search Specialist and Certified Federal Resume Specialist.  I asked Corliss to help distill some of the core components of the SES process.

 



 

VSB: What are the top three things transitioning senior military leaders should keep in mind about the Federal government Senior Executive Service (SES) application process?

Jackson:    

1. The documents submitted by the applicant require approval from the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  OPM is looking for very specific experience in a very specific format.  It is important that the applicant know the format and information OPM is requiring so the resume and essays can be tailored to OPM’s needs.  If there is deviation from OPM’s expectations, OPM can reject the application.  If rejected, the applicant gets one chance to rewrite the package.  If it gets rejected again, there is an 18-month waiting period before the applicant can reapply to other SES positions. 

2. The appointment and security investigation process can take 6 to 18 months or more; it can be public and it may consist of multiple panel interviews from mid-level management to the highest levels of the agency. 

3. The best way to start on writing the SES application materials is to create a list of 10 major professional accomplishments and include the basic details.  Look at performance reviews, OERs, fitness reports, etc. for project details and results. 

 

VSB:  What is the difference between ECQs and TCQs? When should they be modified by the SES applicant?

Jackson:

The ECQs (Executive Core Qualifications) are standard.  They can remain the same for all SES applications.  Once a strong set of ECQs have been developed, they do not need to be modified unless an update is desired.    

The TCQs (Technical Core Qualifications) change with each application, based on the position’s focus.  For example, if applying to a position as a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), there will probably be a set of two to four questions that would allow the agency to gauge the applicant’s experience in overseeing a financial organization, its processes and its employees.  TCQs are very specific to the position and generally will need to be rewritten (or at least reworked) for each SES application submitted since they most likely will be different for each application. 

 

VSB: Can you shed some light on the Context Challenge Action Result (CCAR) format? What is it and why is it so important in the SES application process?

Jackson:

In order to best understand that an applicant has the ECQs to be successful in his/her first SES appointment, OPM is looking for applicants to describe experience in a specific format.  Each ECQ should have two examples.  The first example needs to be about 3/4 of the response and very strong (with significant detail) and the other should be the last 1/4 of the response.  Of course, if you have two equally strong examples, use both.  The total page length for all five essays should be 10 pages for the full document, roughly about 2 pages per ECQ.

Each ECQ needs to reflect the CCAR format.  This is very important to OPM.  Actually typing these words into your document can be helpful as you write:

CONTEXT

CHALLENGE

ACTION

RESULT

Each ECQ needs to “prove” these competencies.  Think about wording and how examples can show these competencies:

 

ECQ 1 Leading Change

This core qualification involves the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment.

Competencies

Creativity & Innovation

External Awareness

Flexibility

Resilience

Strategic Thinking

Vision

 

ECQ 2 Leading People

This core qualification involves the ability to lead people toward meeting the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts.

Competencies

Conflict Management

Leveraging Diversity

Developing Others

TeamBuilding

 

ECQ 3 Results Driven

This core qualification involves the ability to meet organizational goals and customer expectations. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks.

Competencies

Accountability

Customer Service

Decisiveness

Entrepreneurship

Problem Solving

 

ECQ 4 Business Acumen

This core qualification involves the ability to manage human, financial, and information resources strategically.

Competencies

Financial Management

Human Capital Management

Technology Management

 

ECQ 5 Building Coalitions

This core qualification involves the ability to build coalitions internally and with other Federal agencies, State and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals.

Competencies

Partnering

Political Savvy

Influencing/Negotiating

 

VSB:  Where can transitioning senior military leaders learn more about the SES application process and procedures?

Jackson:  OPM’s website (ww.OPM.gov/SES) has information on the process, format and the competencies, along with examples. 

 

VSB:  Any other advice for senior leaders interested in pursuing a post-military career in the federal government?

Jackson: Networking works!  Figure out how to make it work best for you.

 

Individuals interested in professional assistance with the Federal job search and application process can learn more at www.FedJobResults.com.

Apr 30

Former Air Force Colonel Now University COO

longSuccessful career transitions require thoughtful preparation, careful planning, thorough conversation and a little bit of luck. 

You might take a few different paths before you land the job that suits you best and you may end up in a field different from the one you had anticipated.  The key is your ability to transfer your skill set seamlessly into a new organization.  Retired Colonel John Long did just that when he retired from the U.S. Air Force three years ago. Today, he is Senior Vice President and COO at his Alma Mater, the University of South Florida.

 

VSB: John, what do you enjoy most about your current job?

Long: Working in higher education provides constant challenges, both culturally and in technical application.  I learn something new every day.  I have an opportunity to interface with brilliant people on a daily basis.  I also have the self-satisfaction (as I did in military life) of preparing our young people to be productive citizens.

 

VSB: What are the key similarities and differences between your current job as Chief Operating Officer of a major university and the leadership role you played prior to leaving military service?

Long: The jobs are very similar from a functional standpoint.  As a Mission Support Group Commander, I essentially ran a “city.”  That is comparable to what I do now as Chief Operating Officer at the university.  Additionally, I have all budget and finance responsibilities — a natural fit for me since my field was Financial Management in the Air Force.

 

VSB: Would you have done anything differently to better prepare yourself for transition into the academic arena?

Long: To be honest, I had never intended on a career in higher education.  Like most retiring colonels, my initial thoughts were that I would start work in defense, possibly in a contract position, as I embarked on a second career.  But an opportunity became available at the university that matched my experience and skill sets, so I took advantage of that and accepted the job.

 

VSB: What advice would you share with senior military leaders in transition contemplating a post-military career in education administration?

Long:

  • Start your planning early.
  • Decide what your drivers are, location, proximity to family, weather, cost of living, salary, etc.  Once you commit to move and buy a home, you are committed for several years.
  • Networking is key and knowing someone who knows someone in higher education will be a huge advantage.  Looking at your Alma Mater is always a good idea.
  • Be sure to tailor your resume to the specific industry of interest to you.
  • Higher education, by its nature, will be cautious and concerned about whether a person with a military background can thrive in an academic environment.  Put people at ease, talk about the similarities between your military experience and how they compare to the job you are seeking.
  • Most of all, check your rank at the door.  No one really cares and, in fact, it will more than likely scare them away. 

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Mar 20

Retired Army Colonel Brings Excellence to Nonprofit Sector

Retired Army Colonel Al FaberIn the current hyper-competitive job search environment, doing one’s homework takes on new meaning.  Retired Army Colonel Al Faber, currently President and CEO of The Partnership for Excellence, shares his perspectives on what it takes to stand out from the crowd and make a difference after separation from military service.

VSB: Many of your former military colleagues are now in their last months of military service. What do you consider to be the key missteps to avoid as they prepare for transition into the civilian workforce?

Faber:

  • First, decide on what you really “want” to do, and don’t settle for simply “making-up” the difference in your military pay versus retirement pay. The more passionate you are in your search for a new career, the more successful you will be.
  • Don’t procrastinate, start now. Learn how to translate your military leadership assignments into comparable civilian experience. Read the resumes of those with similar positions you are looking for and adapt your military experience to their civilian experience. They parallel closer than you might think.
  • Focus on leading others and creating learning organizations that are agile, adaptable, flexible. The economy is just as dynamic as geopolitics, if not more so.

 

VSB: Would you have imagined yourself in your current role when you first left military service? Was it a direct path or more of a circuitous route?

Faber:  I don’t think any of us can see into the future and a particular role. However, knowing the “type” of position you are looking for is important. Some want to shed the responsibility of leading others and work independently, or from home. Others may want the excitement and fast days associated with staff work in government. For me, it was a direct path, knowing that I enjoyed people and leading organizations. I wanted a similar leadership role in the private sector and those are the positions I targeted and the networks I created.

 

VSB: You have served on several nonprofit boards over the past two decades. What have you gained from this experience?

 Faber: This is an insightful question.

  • Boards hire Presidents and CEOs, so it is important to learn how they work and what they are looking for in a chief executive.
  • The networking is invaluable to future relationships and opportunities.
  • Most board members sit on multiple boards and you learn quickly it’s a smaller world than you may have thought.
  • The discussions in board rooms also provide insights to the problems they face as an organization and the solutions they are looking for.
  • Nonprofits may give some the appearance they do not have to “be profitable” but nothing could be further from the truth. Every organization has bills to pay, and to remain in business, must show income that exceeds expenses.

 

VSB:  Based on your own transition experience, would you share any final words of advice with senior military leaders currently in transition to the civilian workforce?

Faber:

First, learn the language. Learn to translate your military experience into something similar to:

  • Provided oversight for several organizational restructuring initiatives to meet the demand for greater efficiency and process optimization.
  • Institutionalized several supporting professional development programs to empower stakeholders, strengthen workforce engagement, and achieve unprecedented organizational alignment and commitment, while promoting diversity and inclusion to fully leverage human capital.

Second, network. Develop a personal business card and seek out those in a position to help. Get out of your “comfort zone” and confidently, and intentionally introduce yourself to others.

Third, once you make it into the interview you want, know more about them than anyone else. Do your homework, think strategically.

Last, be humble. They will know you just as well.

#                                        #                                      #

Colonel Al Faber, USA (Ret) served as a Senior Army Aviator and Instructor Pilot in attack, reconnaissance, and transport combat helicopters. In addition to his current position as President and CEO of The Partnership for Excellence (www.thepartnershipforexcellence.org) he is a member of the American Society for Quality and American Mensa.

 

Mar 14

SUCCESS IN YOUR NEW MISSION: ARE YOU READY?

success in your new mission

Most senior leaders separating from military service have not had to look for a job since their teenage years.  This group of senior executives may be unfamiliar with the complexities of the civilian job search and may underestimate what it takes to land and retain the right position.

SUCCESS IN YOUR NEW MISSION: A Guide for Senior Military Leaders in Transition goes beyond the basics to help senior enlisted and senior officers transition more smoothly into the civilian workforce. Here’s what retired senior leaders are saying about this new resource:

Terrific insight from those who have walked in your shoes. Read it.

        - Admiral Thad Allen, USCG (Ret), Executive Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton

 

A great read for those senior leaders approaching military retirement who may feel somewhat unprepared for the next chapter. 

        - General Ann Dunwoody, USA (Ret), President, First 2 Four, LLC

 

Steiner Blore brings together her extensive professional background in a range of sectors, career transition expertise, and insights gleaned as a military spouse into a must-read book for any senior military leader in transition. From her cogent advice on networking and the use of social media to her insightful discussion of the cultural and psychological aspects of separating from military life, this valuable resource equips readers for success in today’s hyper-competitive employment environment.

       - VADM Norb Ryan, USN (Ret), Pres. & CEO, Military Officers Association of America

 

(S)ome of the best insights into the unique challenges and opportunities faced by senior military leaders making the transition from military to civilian work life. I wish I had this resource when I was leaving active service a few years ago!

         - LT. General Guy Swann III, USA (Ret), Vice President, Association of the U.S. Army

 

…A succinct roadmap for the initial transition campaign…Read this book as soon as you are even contemplating leaving the military…

           – Brigadier General Eden Murrie, USAF (Ret)

 

Some may call SUCESS IN YOUR NEW MISSION a guide; for me, it was like reading the bible on transition. I wish this book had been around when I began to think about, and plan for, life after the military.

            - Alford McMichael, 14th Command Sergeant Major of the United States Marines

 

SUCCESS IN YOUR NEW MISSION: A Guide for Senior Military Leaders in Transition by Vera Steiner Blore is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Success-Your-New-Mission-Transition/dp/0991561309/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394711206&sr=8-1&keywords=success+in+your+new+mission

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