Quite Frankly . . . Part 4

The fourth of a series of articles by Mike Francomb, senior vice president of marketing - candidate services - at RecruitMilitary and a former captain in the United States Army.

I have been with RecruitMilitary since 1998, the year the company was founded. In that time, I have worked in a variety of roles, including recruiting, sales, and marketing. Down through the years, I have heard a lot – and read a lot – about the problems encountered by veterans as they go about the job of getting a job.

In many cases, the problem has more to do with the job seeker’s understanding of, attitude toward, and/or approach to the job market than conditions in the market itself. In this article series, I will cite examples of what I have heard and read. Then I will respond, quite frankly.


I have been actively recruiting recently to fill a couple positions on our team at RecruitMilitary. I have advertised the positions on various websites, and I have attended our own career fairs as a recruiter.

It has been a while since I have done recruiting work – I have had the good fortune of being able to do other things to help our company grow over the last few years. So working on this project for the last six weeks or so has served to remind me that many veterans have a gap in their understanding of how to engage effectively in a job search.

I have experienced actions that have given me the immediate impression that the individual standing in front of me – or the individual who has applied online – is a “no” for us. The individual has created this impression without knowing it and is likely thinking that he or she has made a positive impression.

Because I am a veteran myself and I understand veterans, I thought it would help to share some actions that led me to conclude quickly that certain veterans were not right for us. As they say, a first impression is a lasting impression.

TAKE OFF THE PACK

The heading “Take Off the Pack” comes from our Cincinnati career fair last May. At that event, a recently transitioned soldier approached me. He had taken the time to get a nice suit, but he was wearing a neon green tie with a maroon shirt. This created an odd look, to say the least.

But what surprised me more was that he was wearing his military-issue pack on his back. The pack still had the dirt and grime from training and deployments. As I watched this young veteran engage with other recruiters, I could see that some of them seemed uncomfortable with the perception he was giving.

As a veteran job seeker, you need to understand that this veteran’s appearance would lead to questions of how well he would be able to make the transition. Wearing a suit is the right thing to do when out seeking a job, but the shirt and tie should be conservative – a white or light blue shirt, and I would recommend a red tie. Leave the pack in the car. Go to career fairs and interviews with just a notebook or portfolio.

IF ALL ELSE FAILS

When you see a position posted online, and the posting includes instructions about how the employer would like you to apply, follow those instructions. The employer puts those instructions into the job posting for a reason – they are essential elements of that particular employer’s hiring process. The instructions may not make sense to you as an applicant, but you have to trust that there is a method to what you perceive as their madness.

In my own job posting, I asked candidates to send an email with a cover letter and resume, and I provided my direct email address. Yet several individuals tracked down our phone number and called me directly. To make matters worse, although the messages they left indicated that they wanted to talk with me, they gave me no information that led me to believe they were qualified for the job.

Quite frankly, I do not have time to talk with candidates who are not qualified for a position I am trying to fill. And there is absolutely zero chance that I will call anyone who has not followed directions on how to apply for the position. If a person cannot follow instructions before being hired, I don’t think I would ever be able to get him or her to follow instructions on the job.

DON’T MAKE IT BAD

A job seeker’s phone messages must sound professional. Someone I had met at the Cincinnati career fair left a message for me a few days ago. He had been a possible candidate for me, but his message took him out of contention. In fact, I was actually shocked by the message, which went something like this:

Hey dude, we met at the career fair last week, and you mentioned the positions you had open. I want to talk further with you about that because I know I’m perfect for what you are looking for. I can do anything. Call me tonight after eight because I have a lot going on, and that’s when I can take your call.

The message made me laugh, so it was welcome from that standpoint. But its informality and presumption were astonishing. “Hey dude” is not the right way to address anyone professionally. And if you call someone, you should at least mention what position you are calling for.

Then telling me to call after 8 p.m. was a real losing proposition. I have a family; and when I leave the office by 6 p.m., I have already worked a 10- to 11-hour day. The job seeker is the one who needs to make the scheduling accommodations – at least until the hiring process has reached the job-offer stage.

EMAIL MANNERS

Another communications sticking point for me and many other hiring managers is the form of email. I have mentioned this in previous articles, but it still astounds me: I receive introductory and thank-you emails that are filled with text-messaging lingo. This is an immediate turn-off; and in my eyes, a virtual eliminator for an applicant.

Additionally, an applicant should not use the “Read Receipt” option. An applicant who does this is telling me that I cannot be trusted to do my job.

I understand that the applicant wants to know that I received and read the email. However, the applicant needs to trust me. I encourage all job seekers to trust that people who say they are hiring actually want to hire. In our own case, if you have presented yourself well, you will be contacted – because we want to hire great people!

SUMMING UP

As veterans, we have to learn the language and ways of the civilian world. And regardless of whether we like the ways of that world, we have to accept them if we want to find and hold good jobs. Quite frankly, when you are looking for a job, it is not the time to march to the beat of your own drum.

By Mike Francomb

This article appeared in the July-August 2015 issue of Search & Employ Magazine