Our Blog

BY Joel Junker

Today’s Economy and Jobs for JMOs?

Let’s talk about today’s economy and jobs for JMOs.

Where do the economy and, more importantly, career opportunities for Junior Military Officers (JMOs) stand? For 13 months, the Federal Reserve has raised the Fed funds rate by five percentage points. Most expect more rates in the future. Why have they done this, and how does it impact the labor market? How has that affected the job opportunities for military officers leaving the military? This blog post will address those questions and as well as provide recommendations of what you can do to prepare and succeed in landing a great job in business.

Why has the Federal Reserve been raising interest rates?

Inflation has been running at historic highs. It peaked at 9.1% in June 2022 and is now approximately 5%. The ideal inflation rate is 2%. The Federal Reserve combats inflation by raising the Fed Funds rate, the overnight lending rate among US banks, to raise interest rates in the broader economy. The goal is to cool off the economy, slow job growth, and even increase unemployment. In the law of supply and demand, prices go up when demand is higher than supplies of goods and services. By cooling the economy, the Fed wants to decrease demand for goods and services and level set the inflation rate back to 2%.

What has the impact been on the economy and labor markets?

The economy grew at 1.1% in the first quarter of 2023. That is about ½ of the annualized growth for 2022. Yet, the unemployment rate remains at a historic low of 3.5%, and at the same time, more companies are announcing a slowing in hiring and some layoffs. Most of those layoffs occurred in the tech industry. Then there were the unintended consequences of two high-profile bank failures in 2023, harkening back to the 2009 Great Recession driven by bank failures in 2008. It is hard to say how much more the Fed wants to slow the economy.  The bottom line is that the economy has slowed down, job creation has slowed, and there has been some turbulence with some industries laying off and uncertainty with a couple of banks.

What has been the impact of the JMO transition to business?

At Cameron-Brooks, we noticed a slight decrease in hiring needs from our clients in January this year. The officers averaged 11 interviews versus the historical average of 12. At our most recent April 2023 Conference, the candidates averaged 9.4 interviews. I share those as a data point to support the market’s cooling. However, I want to emphasize that the average is still plenty to conduct a broad career search and compare options. The key is that they are quality opportunities. Our CEO, Chuck Alvarez, is adamant that we would not lower the quality of clients attending the Conference to maintain a statistical average. Chuck leads the client aspect of our business and vets every company and open position before they attend a Conference.

One of the most noticeable changes we’ve noted regarding today’s economy and jobs for JMOs is that companies have raised the bar for follow-up interview invitations and offers. With fewer openings, client companies are more selective. They are more willing to wait for the candidate with the right attitude, communication skills, and attributes. While we continued the trend of 100% of the candidates leaving our Career Conference with invitations for follow-up interviews, I suspect we will have one to two more candidates than usual who do not earn an offer. Over the year, I still expect 95% of all the candidates we partner with to earn an offer. With those who do not earn an offer, we will continue to walk beside them as they pursue opportunities on their own. The vast majority will earn an offer within a couple of months of the Conference.

What does this mean to you as a JMO considering or making the transition?

If you’re concerned about today’s economy and jobs for JMOs, I encourage you to check our free transition guide, Three Recession Myths Every Transitioning JMO Should Know. We wrote this guide with over 50 years of experience helping JMOs transition through all types of economies. Here are my thoughts on any JMO considering or preparing for the transition.

  1. This economy is nowhere near the previous downturns I experienced. Those include the tech wreck and September 11, 2001 recession, the Great Recession of 2009, and the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020. That could change, but that is not the experience now.
  2. In my twenty-four years at Cameron-Brooks, our client companies have always needed leaders. Why? They are always building for the future and solving their most challenging problems. They need leaders with potential.
  3. The bar goes up, and you need to go up with it. You need to be better prepared, have read more books, and practice your interview answers more frequently than your peers who transitioned in 2021 or 2022.
  4. Start your preparation early. Your greatest resource to be well prepared is time. Most of you took 3 to 5 years to train to be a military officer. Your career in the military will last about 4-12 years. Why would you take a month to prepare for a business career that would last 30 years? No athlete prepares for a month for a pivotal competition.
  5. Have the right strategy. I still talk to many JMOs who want to be Development Leaders in business but prioritize location. If you prioritize location, you will likely have fewer opportunities. Fewer opportunities typically mean fewer choices and more variability in the career search. This isn’t about finding a job but finding the right one to launch your career. I cannot think of any strategic goal where narrowing options leads to the best outcome.
  6. Get a partner. Yes, I know that sounds self-serving, “Call Cameron-Brooks! You can’t do it without us!” You, of course, can, but why would you? I took up golf several years ago. I made the mistake of thinking I could figure all this out alone. Two years later, I finally found an expert coach who had taught golf lessons for decades and even played professionally. It took me two more years to unwind a lot of bad habits. I would have been scoring a lot faster with lessons in the mid-eighties, and a partner would guide me along the way.

If you have questions or comments about the blog post, Cameron-Brooks, or the economy, email me at jjunker@cameron-brooks.com. I will respond promptly or set up a call with you.

Do you want to learn more about your options in business, or if Cameron-Brooks could help you? I also invite you to email me at jjunker@cameron-brooks.com. I am passionate about assisting officers to reach their goals.

To stay connected, we encourage you to check out our website and YouTube Channel and follow us on LinkedIn.

If you’re interested in learning more about your transition options, please feel free to contact us.

You can also check out our Transition Guide on “3 Game-Changing Strategies for JMOs Making the Jump to Business” for additional transition tips.

To stay connected, we’d recommend subscribing to our YouTube Channel and following us on LinkedIn.