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BY Joel Junker

Should a JMO Use a Military Officer Recruiting Firm in Today’s Economy?

Recently, my colleague, Pete Van Epps, wrote a blog post regarding JMOs making a transition in the current economy.  You can read that post here.  I wanted to follow up his post by asking the question, should a JMO use a military officer recruiting firm in the current economy?  After all, the current unemployment rate is 3.7% and real unemployment sits at 7.5%.  In an economy like this, everyone seems like a recruiter these days.  What I mean by this is with the economy doing well, everyone (friends, relatives, the person sitting next to you on the airplane, etc) knows “a guy or gal” who has an opening for a job.  Given the current 2% unemployment rate for those over the age of  25 years old with a college degree, a JMO finding a job is probably not all that difficult, even if a JMO is considered a non-traditional hire to Corporate America.  However, will it be a career or simply employment?  Will the role be developmental? Does the company fully understand and get your 

background as a JMO?  Etc. Etc.   So, it begs the question, should a JMO use a military officer recruiting firm in today’s economy?

You might think the answer I would give to this question being a recruiter and a Principal at Cameron-Brooks would be a resounding, 100%, all the time “yes.”  But the truth is, it depends; even in the current economy.  There are indeed situations where a JMO may not need or benefit from using a recruiting firm based on how they wish to conduct their career search or their career goals.  At Cameron-Brooks, we partner with candidates when 1) that candidate has both the ability and desire for business that our client companies are looking for, and 2) we believe we can add value to that candidate’s career search to help them reach their goals.  Even if the candidate is marketable, if we cannot bring value to their transition and career search, a partnership simply doesn’t make sense.  Below are five questions to ask yourself to help you arrive at the decision that is best for you and your situation and career goals, regardless of the current economic conditions.  This is by no means an all-inclusive list but is a great place to start.

  1. How busy are you between now and when you transition from the military?

One of the most common things we hear from JMOs, regardless of the branch of the military they serve and regardless of the current economic conditions, is how busy they are.  The OPTEMPO today is as high as it ever was and discretionary time is sparse.  Not only are JMOs hard working professionals, but many are spouses, parents, etc., and simply have limited time to think about or even prepare for their transition.  If this fits your situation, you may benefit from using a recruiting firm.  At Cameron-Brooks, we have designed our Development & Preparation Program (DPP) to help our candidates maximize the time they do have to spend preparing for their transitions.  We have a specific professional reading program, self-assessment tools, videos, podcasts, interview preparation workshops, etc., specifically tailored for the JMO so that the preparation is specific, precise, and can be modified to fit any timeline, whether you have 2 years or 2 months before your transition.  So, if you are in an environment where the OPTEMPO is very high, and have limited time to prepare for your transition, you may very well benefit from using a recruiting firm.

  1. Do you know exactly what you want to do?

This is probably the million dollar question for JMOs to answer and if you are like me when I transitioned, I had no idea exactly what I wanted to do with regard to the specific industry, career field, job, etc.  If your answer to this question is anything along the lines of “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know,” you could most likely benefit from partnering with a recruiting firm.  One of the biggest values we bring to our candidates is the ability to help them conduct a high quality but broad career search.  We recently concluded our August 2018 Career Conference where our candidates interviewed on average with 13 different opportunities.  These 13 interviews were across multiple industries, positions, career fields, locations, companies, etc., allowing them to see all the different possibilities AT THE SAME TIME so they could, through firsthand knowledge, determine the best fit for them.  Now, if you are certain you know what you want to do, then using a recruiting firm may not be necessary.  Maybe you have family members who work in Accounting, you grew up around it and are very familiar with it, you have a degree that is relevant to that field and you have the right network to get your foot in the door.  If so, great!  Or, maybe you are certain you want to work in an industry like investment banking where the majority of hiring is done through MBA schools in which case again, a recruiting firm may not be your ideal option.  But, if you are uncertain what you want to do in business, using a recruiting firm may be a great option to help make the right choice, even if simply finding employment right now is not all that difficult.

  1. Is timing important to you when you need to find a job?

As the old saying goes, timing is everything.  For some JMOs, however, timing may not be all that important.  They may have plenty of savings and are in no rush to find employment.  Some may want to travel or visit family and can afford both monetarily and time-wise to take a slower approach to finding their next job.  For others, timing is critical.  Maybe you are supporting a family or maybe you want to avoid having any gap in income or are simply ready to start the next chapter of your professional life.  When we schedule a candidate to attend one of our Career Conferences, it is all about the timing.  In most cases, candidates will attend a Career Conference while on active duty, conduct their career search and follow-up interviews and accept an offer all before they begin terminal leave.  This ensures little to no gap in pay or in many cases, some overlap in pay and the peace of mind of knowing your next career before you finish the current one.  So, if timing is important in finding your next job, a recruiting firm may be a great option.

  1. How important is the quality of the opportunity (industry, company, position, growth)?

As I eluded above, there is a difference between finding a job and launching a career.  There is a lot of information about companies through their own websites, websites like glassdoor.com, etc.  You can certainly gain information about the company but at the end of the day, it is still fairly superficial knowledge.  If the idea is to simply find employment, that may be sufficient, but if you are looking to find a career, a more detailed dive into the opportunity probably makes sense and is in most cases necessary.  At Cameron-Brooks, we do not simply bring a company to one of our Career Conferences because the company says they are interested in hiring a veteran or a JMO.  We spend a lot of time with our client companies understanding the company, where they stand in their industry, their business model, what particular division within that company is hiring, who is the hiring manager, why are they interested in hiring a JMO, what is the potential path within the company for a JMO, etc.  We are able to drill down to a level way beyond what any website can offer to ensure that we are bringing developmental opportunities that allow our candidates to maximize the skills they have developed in the military and build on those skills as they grow within their new company.

  1. Do you think you have all of the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully interview?

It is one thing to be marketable to business but a very different thing to be able to successfully interview and connect your background to the position for which you are interviewing.  A great school, degree, strong evaluations, etc., are all things that can open doors for you to get into an interview, but in most cases will not get you hired.  Once you get into the room, you’re going to have to interview.  So, if you were to take an honest assessment of your interviewing skills today, how ready are you?  Can you effectively articulate your accomplishments in a manner someone without a military background would clearly understand?  Can you do it without using military acronyms and jargon?  Can you clearly communicate things like your leadership style, strengths, weaknesses, why you are leaving the military, how you solve complex problems and manage complex projects, etc.?  Can you deliver your answers succinctly and with energy and enthusiasm?  If you can, great!  But if not, or at least not yet, a recruiting firm may be of great benefit. Part of our DPP program is spent on interview preparation helping our candidates with their business communication and interviewing skills.  We do this through a variety of tools such as webcasts, videos, podcasts, phone/Skype mock interviews, and most importantly, face-to-face interview preparation workshops we conduct during our base visits across the country.

Want to find out how Cameron-Brooks can help you?  Start here.

Rob Davis