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BY Joel Junker

8 Questions You NEED to Ask Military Recruiting Firm

If you’re considering working with a military recruiting firm, you may have a number of questions on your mind. Not all recruiting firms are the same.  Even those that are considered premier or the “best” may not be right for your specific goals.

We came up with a list of 8 questions that will help you vet the quality and fit of a JMO to business recruiting firm.  These are questions we want every JMO to ask us and have answers to before they choose to partner with us.  If they are not comfortable with any one of these, we understand it may not be the best fit and hope they find other sources to reach their career goals.

Here are the 8 key questions to ask a military recruiting firm.

8.  How will you make certain you understand my goals, preferences and desires so that you match me appropriately?

A resume, application, evaluations and transcripts are just paper.  They do not tell the whole story of who you are, your values, interests, strengths, weaknesses, and preferences.  Nor do they describe what drives or motivates you.  A really good recruiting firm that is invested in you will meet with you regularly to develop a personal relationship with you. A top-tier recruiting firm will also be confident enough to tell you if they can’t help you reach your goals or if those goals are not compatible with their services.  They will be objective and honest.

7.  What salary range can I expect? 

Money is not everything, and it won’t make you happy in your career, but you do want to make sure your transition firm can help you get fair and equitable compensation.  When meeting with a recruiting firm, they should be able to give you a base salary range and potential bonuses based on your specific years of experience, education and the types of positions you are interested in.  They should be realistic.  Sure, everyone wants to make more money and wants to hear as high of a number as possible, but it will only benefit you, the firm’s client companies and the firm itself if they give you a fair and honest assessment on what to expect.  No surprises.  If you choose to partner with them, the goal would be for you to interview for positions at that range or higher.

6.  Can I have a location preference?

The answer should be “absolutely” or “yes.” Everyone should have preferences and probably even some restrictions.  Though, the more open you are to opportunities in addition to your preference, the more opportunities you get to explore.  You should also ask, “What percentage of the officers in your program accept a position in their ideal location or region?”  If it is 60% or more, you know the firm does a good job of showing their candidates opportunities in their preferred area.  A good recruiting firm WILL NEVER show you positions outside of your preference in place of something in your preference.  It should ALWAYS be an “in addition to.”

5.  Who are your client companies, and with what types of companies do I have the potential to interview?

This question cuts right to the chase.  A leading recruiting firm will represent industry-leading companies and will be as selective with their client companies as with their military officer candidates.  Some firms may not be able to publish a list of their clients because they’ve been asked not to share proprietary information by their client companies. However, you should be able to ask the question, and the recruiting firm be able to share with you numerous companies that have attended recent conferences and the types of positions for which they recruited.  If the firm is not forthcoming, gives you a list of companies for which they recruited several years ago, or provides you a narrow list, no matter how good everything looks with this firm, be careful.  Finally, when they do share names of companies with you, keep in mind that even though you may not have heard of a company before, it doesn’t mean that it is not industry-leading.  Do your research to include asking if you can talk to other officers who recently attended a Conference (see question 4) so you can get insight into who they interviewed with.

4.  May I speak with some of your alumni who have similar backgrounds as mine?

Who better than someone like you with similar concerns and goals to share with you the pros and cons of a recruiting firm!  The recruiting firm should be able to give you 3 to 4 names and contact information of their alumni who will share their experience, answer your questions and provide transition lessons.

3.  How far in advance should I start preparing for my transition, and how will you help me prepare?

Every recruiting firm is different.  If any of the firms limit how far in advance they will work with you or recommend preparing, this would be an indication of their answer to Question #1 as well.  If the recruiting firm is just looking to place you, then they might ask you to check back in a few months prior to your transition.  Other firms do believe in preparation, and they will start working with you no more than one year out.  However, a JMO recruiting firm that is a true partner in helping you reach your goals will help you develop a life-long habit of self-development and invest in helping you become a better officer because that is what you sell to the business world in the transition.  This type of recruiting firm will not talk in terms of time but rather say, “Start as early as possible!”

2.  Do you have any type of exclusivity agreement?

Some recruiting firms will have a partnership type of agreement, sometimes referred to as an “exclusivity agreement,” by military officers.  I highly discourage working with a firm that is completely exclusive.  Our firm, Cameron-Brooks, has an agreement asking the officer not to contact companies or send out resumes for the purpose of setting up interviews prior to a Conference.  We do not consider it exclusive because the officer can contact companies immediately after the Conference.  At Cameron-Brooks, we do this for several reasons.  First, it protects the military officer candidate.  When a company receives a resume from more than one source, it usually stops the recruiting process on ALL fronts. So, if the company already has your resume, no matter how they got it, they will likely not move forward.  Why?  It’s confusing to the company; they have a relationship with the firm and want to respect it. It is easier just to pass and move on to another candidate who isn’t as confusing.  Second, your recruiting firm should help you bypass all the filters to get to the interview with decision makers (hiring managers) and the decision makers are busy; they do not want to waste their time interviewing people who are halfway hired through another source.  The officer candidate also benefits in this case because the agreement attracts good companies with high-quality critical positions.  And finally, if your recruiting firm is going to invest in understanding your goals and preferences, travel to meet you face-to-face and develop you, it is fair that you attend their Conference first in your interview process.  This does not mean and should not mean that you have to accept one of their client’s offers.  Be very careful of any firm that asks you to commit to an agreement any time beyond the Conference.  Some recruiting firms do not have any type of agreement.  This fits their business model because they work with lots of candidates and invest very little in the relationship.

And the number one question you should ask…

1.  How do you define a successful transition from military to business?

You may have to ask yourself this question first before asking the firm to ensure it is aligned.  Do you just want a job or a career?  A job is a task you routinely do in return for pay.  A career is the natural progression of a person’s professional life.  Unfortunately, jobs can be disguised as careers if the transition is not done right.  A successful transition has to be longer term than just a few months or a year from separation.  It should mean you are solidly on your feet in Corporate America with a strong track record of success over several years with a leading company. Additionally, a successful transition should mean that you win by reaching your goals, the recruiting firm’s client company wins by hiring a great leader who contributes immediately and has high potential for promotions, and then the recruiting firm wins because the client continues to recruit from the firm and the former military officer becomes a firm advocate.

To learn more about career and transition strategies, check out our (free!) transition guide on the subject. Interested in exploring your options with Cameron-Brooks?  Curious about how to make a successful transition? Check out our website, YouTube Channel and follow us on LinkedIn

This blog post is a newer iteration of our 2017 article by Joel Junker.