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BY Joel Junker

The Economy, Preparation, and the November 2011 Career Conference

The Cameron-Brooks team and the November 2011 Career Conference JMO candidates will arrive in Austin, TX this Friday to kick off our fifth and final Conference of the year.  As we make final preparations for the conference, I wanted to share some thoughts heading into the Conference.

First, let’s address the economy.  This is a very popular topic among JMOs considering leaving the military and understandably so.  According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics figures published just this morning, the unemployment rate is 9.0%, down from the 9.1% where it had been holding steady for the past few months.  The most relevant number for JMOs, however, is 4.4%, which represents the unemployment rate for those 25 years of age or older who have a college degree.  That number is slightly up from last month (4.2%), but this figure has been averaging between 4.2-4.5% for the past 18 months.  The other telling statistic is job creation.  Over the past few months, the average net job creation per month has been 100,000 jobs with commercial business accounting for an average of 132,000 jobs and the public sector/government cutting an average of 32,000 jobs to arrive at that net number.   This three-month span is very representative of what we’ve seen for most of 2011.  So, while there is still uncertainty in the market, commercial business continues to create jobs and the outlook for a very well prepared JMO is positive.

We have a great Career Conference lined up this weekend for both the companies and the candidates.  Sample industries for the November conference include: Medical Device, Biopharmaceutical, Semiconductor, Consulting, Construction and Building Products, Oil & Gas Exploration, Consumer Products, and more.  Sample companies include:  Asurion, Ernst & Young, Medtronic, Exxon Mobile, Kraft Foods, Cypress Semiconductor, Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, FedEx and many more.  The companies attending this conference represent a wide array of industries and sizes to include Fortune 500 type companies, smaller rapidly growing companies, privately held companies, as well as those that are internationally based.  Sample positions include: Program Manager, Applications Engineer, Product Marketing Engineer, Senior Consultant, Business Analyst, Brand Management, Supplier Quality Engineer, Marketing Analyst, Territory Manager, Manufacturing Supervisor, Six Sigma Black Belt, and more.  Although we are still finalizing the interview schedules, we expect the average number of interviews to be ~12 which is in-line with the 11+ interviews we have experienced since the end of 2009.

The bottom line is that while there is still much work to be done to improve our national economic conditions, the opportunities available with Cameron-Brooks remain strong.  The challenge is that the bar continues to remain high.   Whether you are attending a Cameron-Brooks conference in the future, or just in the initial stages of considering a transition to business, you must be well prepared to make the transition and this starts with:

1) A professional reading program.  Read as many books as you can and study up on business concepts like Lean, Six Sigma, Project Management, Self-Directed Work Teams, Consultative Selling, etc.  I also recommend reading good business periodicals like Fortune Magazine to give you a really good feel for what is happening in business, what companies are doing, what innovations are taking place, etc.

2)  Know yourself really well.  I know that sounds like a no-brainer statement but it’s not.  As a development candidate, companies want to know and understand not just what you have done but how you think and come to quality conclusions.   You must be able to articulate your strengths, weaknesses, your leadership style, how you deal with a difficult boss, persuade others when you have no direct authority over them, etc.  Only by doing a thorough self-analysis can you effectively and succinctly answer these questions.

3)  Developing answers to commonly asked interview questions and rehearse.  For most JMOs, they have never had to interview for a job before.  They graduated from school, received their commission, and had a job in the military.  This is a new concept for the majority of JMOs and it requires practice.  Your answers always sound good in your head and read well on paper but it’s a different story when you have to verbalize them. The last thing you want to do is deliver an answer for the very first time in a live interview when it counts.

Continue to follow the blog. Next week I will write a post on the results from our November Career Conference.

Rob Davis