Quite Frankly . . . Part 2

**The second in 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](https://recruitmilitary.com/employers/solutions/recruiting-staffing/recruitment-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. The veteran believes that he or she is doing everything within reason to find a job, but that’s often not the case.* *Job seekers who are having problems often cite examples of how hard they have been working to find jobs, how the odds are stacked against veterans, the shortcomings of job-finding mechanisms such as job boards and job fairs, the ineffectiveness of advice given out to veterans, etc.* *In this article series, I will quote directly, or will paraphrase, actual examples of questions and interactions with veteran job seekers. Then I will respond, quite frankly.* *************************************************************** **EXAMPLES:** Below are two unedited emails received from job seekers. **Email 1:** *last 3 veteran job fairs i went to were horrible experiences, lucky to have half of the employers actually show up and most of the time they are not even hiring or are interested in the persons resume unless they have a bachelors pretty sad that their just doesnt seem to be employers willing to give a vet a chance these days and would rather take a bachelors instead of military experience.* **Email 2:** *i am registered yet again for this last time i did not get one job offer from any of the employers at the last job fair im on 13th month no one wants to give me a job that i am fully qualified for when did having 20 years of it experience and a 4 year fully accredited bachelors degree in it not count as employable.* **RESPONSE:** First, let me acknowledge that I know there are frustrated individuals out there who have struggled while seeking a career. That struggle can go on and on, and almost drain the life out of a job seeker. I get it. However, the people who wrote the emails above need to understand that, if those messages are representative of the communications they are using during their job searches, there is little mystery as to why they are not connecting with employers. Quite frankly, they are representing themselves poorly. And it is highly likely that others who are competing for the same jobs are taking the time to present themselves in a better way. Let’s look at these emails and note some problems in both the mechanics and the attitude being displayed. Here are some things I see as a recruiter. **Email 1:** - There is no sentence structure, just a rambling string of words. Any written communication that you send in the course of seeking a job should look professional. Even if you wish to express critical feedback, always try to impress the reader with the quality of your writing. You do not know who might read your message or what his or her role might be. - I recognize that the writer used a style that has become common in emails, mobile texts, social media postings, etc. – no capital letter, no apostrophe, no comma, and just one period – at the end of the entire message. This style may be all right for quick, personal communications. However, it is out of place in introductory business communications – such as this email. - If you take the time to write a well thought out email, you might be surprised by the response you get back. You may even receive a request for a conversation – or a referral to someone who can help move you one step closer to your next career. - Poor grammar is used throughout. Written communication skills are at a premium today. If you take the time to write with good grammar and structure, you will immediately stand out. Your input will get more consideration. - The writer used his or her experience at three job fairs to conclude that employers do not seem to want to give veterans a chance. This conclusion makes me ask some questions, as someone in the recruiting industry – particularly, as someone who works for a company that produces more than 100 veteran-focused job fairs yearly. - What kind of job fairs were the three? At our events, we rarely have more than two or three no-shows. - Did the writer work the room aggressively and talk with every employer? Did the writer use a strong elevator pitch? Events are a great way to learn what’s out there and network in your local area. If a job seeker takes the time to prepare a good personal presentation, then speaks with every exhibitor at three RecruitMilitary Job Fairs, he or she will almost certainly walk away with at least one promising opportunity. - Did the writer smile and have a high degree of positive energy? First impressions are everything. Recruiters at job fairs like to meet positive, high-energy individuals who come across as people with whom they would enjoy working. Remember, we often spend more time with our colleagues at work than with anyone else throughout the week. People want to spend their time with individuals who will not drag them down. - The writer concluded that employers seem to prefer a degree, rather than military experience. This conclusion runs counter to what we experience. Employers work with us because they want to hire veterans. These employers understand the valuable experience and intangibles that veterans bring to the table. Also, many companies do not require degrees for a wide variety of their positions. - Sometimes, a lack of a degree may mean starting in a role that is less than ideal. But we have seen individuals take a leap of faith, dive into that kind of situation with a positive approach, register solid performance, and move quickly to new roles. **A better way to say it.** I would re-phrase this email to something like the following: *Hello, I received your email about the upcoming career fair, and I wanted to see if you might provide some guidance on how to best use a career fair in my job search. I’ve been frustrated after attending three previous job fairs and not getting any hits. Is there anything you might have that could help me be more prepared if I were to attend your upcoming career fair?* If I received an email like this, I would be inclined to go out of my way to help out, because the writer has displayed a mature approach. He or she wants to get better, and is seeking advice on how to optimize a career search. Additionally, I am more likely to remember this person in a positive way. As we communicate a bit more, I will get to know the person better. Eventually, I might well refer the person someone who could further his or her career search. **Email 2:** - Poor grammar. Not to beat a dead horse but, as a recruiter, when I see that the first word in an email to me is incorrect, I hit the delete button on my computer. You will lose me with your carelessness regardless of what your background or input might be. - This email is an exercise in blowing off steam. Rather than string together complaints about how well qualified you are how patently unfair it is that no one has picked you up, you might try a more thoughtful approach. Lay out what you have done in your job search. Ask what you might be missing or where you might get help – so you can better present your case to employers. - Companies do not give people jobs. Companies are in existence to produce goods/and or provide services and make a profit. They hire people only when they need talent that will help them produce/provide as they grow and increase their profitability. - The hard task you have as a job seeker is to understand what the employer is trying to accomplish, tailor your presentation of your skills and experience accordingly, and communicate how you will use these assets to help the company meet its needs. If a company recruiter can see how you meet the requirements, he or she will be happy – and, quite frankly, excited – to extend you an offer of employment, not give you a job. - Displays a belief that employers just do not see that the writer is qualified. You may be fully qualified for the positions that interest you, but are you the best qualified? You can never know. This means that you have to do your homework. - Learn to understand the employer’s perspective and the problems that the employer faces. Then tailor your resume and your written and spoken communications in a way that shows you have solved similar problems in your past work. If you can do this consistently through the interview process, you have a solid chance at coming out on top. - As I pointed out in my article in January-February 2015 Search & Employ®, studies have shown that there are between 118 and 250 applications for every position posted online. You have to do a lot to stand out. **A better way to say it:** *Hello, I’ve registered for your upcoming career fair in Miami. I’ve been to many career fairs in the last 13 months, and I have been unable to successfully gain employment through these or other methods. It often appears I have the necessary experience and requirements for open positions, but I’m not getting interest. Are there some things I might think about doing that could help lead me toward success, or are there resources you might be willing to connect me with to help me improve my approach? Thank you for any assistance you may be able to provide.* This email would capture my attention, and the writer would stand out as someone who has been sincerely trying to land a career. I would provide the person with some resources, and I likely would work a bit to find a connection I might help facilitate. A direct request for help – as part of a thoughtful message – goes a lot further than a complaint or demand. ###KEY TAKEAWAYS - When you seek a new career, everything you communicate gets scrutinized. - The manner in which you communicate always matters. Your email messages should have a professional look, and they should set forth specific objectives and/or requests. - Assume that everyone you meet is a potential connection who can help you find your next career. Make a great first impression with everyone. - People generally want to help other people. They are more likely to do that when you take a positive, constructive approach. - Most companies genuinely want to hire veterans. However, when a company makes a hiring decision, the most important factor is the health of the business. So the company needs to hire the best person for the position. This means that you must find out what it will take to be perceived as the best person. Then you must execute. Best of luck in your job search, and thank you for serving our country.