Burning the Ships

If you’ve followed our blog or perhaps attended one of our information meetings or webcasts, we talk a lot about our client companies looking for candidates who have both the ability and desire to become a top leader in commercial business.  One of my colleagues, Chuck Alvarez, came up with a great analogy to explain how our client companies look at a potential candidate’s desire when it comes to a career in business and I thought it would be appropriate to share it with you here. 

If you recall the story of when Cortez came to the New World, the first thing he did upon landing ashore was to burn every last ship signifying to his people that there were no alternatives other than moving forward on their quest.  This is how our client companies want to see JMOs pursuing the business world.  They want to know that the candidates they interview have looked at all the potential career alternatives (defense contractor, FBI, GS level jobs, law school, etc) but in the end have “burned the ships” and their only desired direction is to move forward toward a career in business.  

If we look at it from their perspective, it makes sense.  When our client companies attend one of our career conferences, they are immediately investing time and money in addition to the expenses they incur to bring a candidate onsite for follow up interviews.  But more important to them is the investment they will make over the long term taking someone who has virtually zero experience in the business world and developing them into a key leader within their company. 

Our client companies view Cameron-Brooks as a strategic source of leadership talent.  They come to us looking to find key leaders for the long term success of their organization and they simply cannot afford to miss.  It costs a company approximately $65k if a new hire leaves within the first six months, and that does not include that individual’s compensation.  That figure also does not capture the lost opportunity cost of having to start the search all over again.  With nearly 30 million people in senior leadership positions projected to retire over the next five years, the time for companies to find their replacements is now. 

Here is another way to look at it.   Let’s say I decided that I wanted to leave the business world.  We sit down for an interview to potentially join your unit and you ask me why I’m considering returning to military service.  I begin by telling you that I’m tired of all the travel, I don’t like wearing a suit, etc.  I also tell you that in addition to the military, I’m considering other alternatives such as being a GS level employee, working for the FBI, or teaching at local university.  From your perspective, how excited would you be to have me join your unit? My guess is you would politely thank me for my time and escort me out of your office. Why?  Because I haven’t convinced you of my desire to serve in the military or provided any evidence of commitment on my part.

 At Cameron-Brooks, we recognize you have options.  You only get one shot to leave the military and you owe it to yourself and your family to do your diligence.  We represent one path of leaving the service and our client companies want candidates who are committed to that path.  No matter what career path you ultimately decide to pursue, to be truly successful will require both a burning desire and willingness to burn the other ships.

Rob Davis