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BY Rob Davis
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COVID-19 & the April 2020 Virtual Career Conference

As we put the finishing touches on our first ever virtual Cameron-Brooks Career Conference, I find myself reflecting on the past and some of the similarities to today’s market.  Below is a blog post my colleague Joel Junker wrote in May 2009 at the height of the last economic recession.  I think you will find the post both enlightening and maybe a little eerily similar to what we are facing with the current pandemic…

The unemployment rate hit 8.9% last week.  This means that Cameron-Brooks’ client companies are getting a lot of resumes and applications for every open position they have.  In fact one client told me yesterday, “We have more resumes and applications than we can shake a stick at.”  Yet, this same client attended the April 2009 Conference to fill one of their openings with a Cameron-Brooks JMO.  The company wanting to interview a JMO ahead of industry experience is impressive.  What is even more impressive? After interviewing several C-B candidates at the Career Conference and during the follow up process, they ended up making offers to 3 candidates!  

The question is, with so many candidates on the market, why is a company considering a Cameron-Brooks JMO with no business experience and for whom the company pays a hiring fee?

Here is what our clients tell us.

In the words of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, our clients want to “Get the Right People on the Bus.”  JMOs in general bring high performance with leadership potential that the company will grow and develop for the future.  To be sure, clients can fill most current openings internally or with an external applicant but where will the person they hire be 5 or 10 years from now?  What is that person’s upside?  Whereas a JMO is choosing to leave the military to pursue a business career, most other people on the market have been let go from their company for a variety of reasons.

Our clients do not want just any JMO, they want a consistent top performer who is well prepared for a new career.  The number one mistake made by JMOs  who conduct their own career search is a lack of  preparation.  Even those who use a JMO headhunter or recruiting firm make the same preparation mistake because they are advised to wait 2-3 months before their transition to start preparing.  This lack of preparation shows in the interviews where the company sees raw talent but won’t commit the time or money to invest in training the person.  A JMO can overcome this lack of preparation in a “candidate” friendly market of the past, but it is becoming increasingly more difficult in today’s market and I expect it to stay this way for awhile.

At Cameron-Brooks we thoroughly vet our candidates.  We ask for a 4-page application, evaluations, transcripts, and then conduct a 30-45 minute Personal Marketability Assessment before we making a decision.  We usually meet with a candidate in person 2-4 times and conduct more than a dozen phone conversations before a Career Conference.  The face to face interaction is key to relationship building and understanding the candidate’s unique background and career goals. 

Next, all of our candidates complete our Development and Preparation Program (DPP).  DPP serves many purposes.  First, it prepares the Cameron-Brooks JMO for a new career.  Our clients expect the candidate to come in and immediately contribute.  Second, DPP requires a commitment to excellence and hard work.  If JMOs do not want to work hard towards the success of their transition, why would they work hard in a career for one of our clients?  Finally, DPP and focused preparation allows the JMO to apply and practice business principles in their military career before their transition. 

So if you were a client company, who would you a choose?  JMO #1 who brings leadership and talent but has done limited preparation and not put forth the effort to start his/her new career ready to contribute immediately?  Or JMO #2 who has prepared for an average of 12 months, read approximately 10 business books, worked through self analysis exercises, further developed the leadership skills and applied business principles in his/her military career,  been a consistent top performer, committed to a business career, and who has been thoroughly vetted by the oldest, most experienced JMO recruiting firm in the industry.  I know who our clients are choosing.

So whether it is a stock market crash or a virus impacting our economy, there are a lot of similarities:

  • Companies will still continue to recruit and hire top leaders regardless of the economy.
  • In difficult economic times, the bar goes way up and its even more important to be well prepared.
  • Cameron-Brooks remains a valuable recruiting source to help top companies vet, prepare, and hire top JMOs for their difficult to fill leadership positions to help them get through the difficult times and grow with the organization.

We are about to kick off our first ever virtual Career Conference in just a few days. As it stands as I write this post, our candidates will average ~8 interviews per candidate.   Yes, this is down from our historical average over the past 3-4 years of 12+ interviews per candidate, but it is a very healthy number relative to the economic uncertainty and the historic job loss rates we have been seeing this past week.  In fact, this very closely mirrors the number of interviews our candidates experienced during the 2009 economic recession.

During this time when other networking events or job fairs such as the Service Academy Career Conference (SACC), Military Mojo, etc. are either being cancelled or postponed, our Career Conference is in full swing.  This is because it is impossible to virtually conduct a “meet and greet”, networking event, or even a job fair.  Even though our Career Conference is virtual, the companies are coming with open positions that have been vetted, screened to be great fits, and align with the JMO’s availability.   Pre-screened, Pre-arranged interviews like these can be done virtually!  But, as Roger Cameron always said, you must interview with the economy in mind.

We have a great lineup of companies and opportunities attending the virtual April Career Conference with over 30 hiring groups, 26 distinct companies and 4 brand new companies!

Here is a quick sampling of what we have in store for the April Candidates:

Sample Industries Include:

Medical Device; Professional Services; Consumer Package Goods; Facilities Services; Consulting; Pharmaceutical; Industrial; Building Materials; and more.

Sample Companies Include:

DaVita Healthcare; Johnson & Johnson; GlaxoSmithKline; Mars, Inc; Schneider National; Catalent, Inc; Medtronic; Love’s Travel Stops; Corning, Inc; and many more.

Sample Positions Include:

Production Manager; Contract Manufacturing Site Manager; Engineering Supervisor; Supply Chain Supervisor; Program Manager; Operational Excellence Manager; Fast Track Associate Sales Representative; Supply Chain Demand Planner;  Brand Manager; Senior Financial Analyst; Territory Manager; Consultant; Commercial Operations Analyst; and many more.

Sample Locations Include:

Houston, TX; Minneapolis, MN; Chicago, IL; Indianapolis, IN; San Jose, CA; Boston, MA; Philadelphia, PA; Orange County, CA; Hershey, PA; Madison, WI; San Diego, CA; Memphis, TN; and many more.

Finally, if you haven’t already, check out our podcast on your podcast app or by clicking here. On the podcast, we interview Cameron-Brooks alumni who are making an impact in the business world. We feature alumni from different military backgrounds who launch their careers in variety of roles across companies and industries. As of this blog post, we have published our 93rd podcast episode!

Stay tuned until next week – I’ll be back to post the results of the April 2020 Cameron-Brooks Career Conference!

Rob