Navy Helicopter Pilot Succeeds at FedEx
FedEx Corporation provides transportation, e-commerce, and business services to consumers and businesses worldwide. The company serves 220 countries and territories. It has annual revenues of $47 billion and employs more than 325,000 people.
FedEx Services needs individuals with backgrounds related to marketing, finance, information technology, and audit. That includes experience with web technologies, databases, development of project standards and deliverables, programming/coding, business analysis, project management, and field-based technical support; and/or a strong understanding of risk assessment, control analysis, and audit methodology.
In 2012, the company formed a Military Relations Team (MRT); the team meets monthly to discuss ways to help transitioning veterans enter the corporate world. MRT also participates in physical and virtual military career fairs and hosts informational career sessions for military transition centers worldwide.
In addition, an affinity group is available to veterans working at all of FedEx operating companies. The company also has an in-house mentoring group.
A VETERAN SUCCESS | CONNIE AVERY**
Connie Avery served in the United States Navy for 22 years, retiring as a commander. She was a helicopter pilot by trade, and held a number of other positions including battle watch captain in the Pentagon, crisis action team leader, joint operations chief, command duty officer, and legislative liaison.
At FedEx, Avery is a senior communications specialist. She fields media calls for sensitive situations, proactively prepares communications regarding major corporate issues, and creates and leads drills that test internal and external communications.
She also serves as a board member and communications officer for veterans, and volunteers on the FedEx Services Diversity and Inclusion Executive Steering Committee. She attends career fairs as a member of the MRT. Avery joined FedEx in 2014.
Avery found the transition to civilian life “both exciting and intimidating.” She said that “having spent my entire adult life learning and living the military culture, and following a predictable career path, it was a challenge to narrow in on a position that was a good fit and combined my interests, skills and experience. It was a bit overwhelming.”
However, her military experience had prepared her. “I found that standing duty – whether as command duty officer, squadron duty officer, or battle watch captain – provided the best experience for my first full-time position,” she said. “In each of these military positions, vast amounts of disparate information are flowing, and you have to pick out what is important, and then decide what to do with it. In my current position, and previously as watch officer, it is essential that you know who to go to, rather than try to answer questions on your own.”
She has this advice on resume preparation: “The purpose of a resume is to get an interview, not to showcase all that you have done in the military. You can reveal more of that during the interview. Hiring managers are looking for specific skills and experience, and those are outlined in the position description. With electronic keyword searches in talent management systems, you need to cover words in their job announcement in order to get a human to look at your resume – which would ultimately lead to an interview.”
Avery also pointed out that, even if a job description does not match what a veteran did in the military, the job competencies may very well match. “For example, there may be a job announcement for a program analyst,” she said. “While your job may have been division officer or department head, the job description may offer clues that indicate that your job running a division actually translates to a program analyst position. FedEx was very helpful with this. The human resources team distributed a list of their job titles at a local job fair, and then broke down by service the types of jobs that a veteran may have held, that align with FedEx jobs.”
Veterans also need to know how to tell other people about their skills. “A veteran is normally punctual, pays attention to appropriate attire, has a high situational awareness, and gets projects done on time – all valuable attributes of a good employee,” she said. “Your specialized skills will be just as valuable, once you find the right position. Keep in mind you will need to point out these benefits to the hiring manager, because it is likely that person has not served.”
Avery believes that FedEx is more familiar with military life than most companies. “FedEx was founded by a veteran, Fred Smith,” she said. “The company values many of the same attributes that are in military culture. FedEx has its Veteran’s Affinity Group and Military Relations Team. I have found mentors in fellow veterans, both in and out of my particular job field. In a new place, in a new town, it is very good to have an instant connection. My veteran colleagues have made my transition to a corporate position more comfortable. I sometimes make a Navy reference, or say a phrase that I end up having to explain – unless I am lucky enough to be in the company of a fellow veteran. Even so, FedEx is an excellent corporation valuing military experience.”
She advises servicemembers to take advantage of every educational opportunity they have in the service. “I recommend that transitioning veterans take advantage of certification programs prior to leaving active duty,” she said. “Education is important, but there is a growing emphasis on certifications, such as Project Management Professional or Certified Information Systems Security Professional. Look into professional associations in your field to learn about the latest certifications. Also, align your professional lingo with your desired industry and trade. You want to be able to speak the same language as potential employers. You can do that through trade publications and certifications. Lastly, network, network, network. You will discover more positions, learn corporate lingo, and continue to grow professionally.”