“If opportunities aren’t aplenty, why are companies always complaining about the lack of talent?”
The question is rhetorical, but it is a fair one. There is never a shortage of real or potential vacancies in the market. There is always a shortage of talent.
I say this with some authority, being both a veteran and an entrepreneur, one of whose companies, Brisk Olive, has placed thousands of soldiers, at all levels.
The corporate world is like an ocean; it is in a state of constant flux. This is because business, like war, means constant competition. The only difference is that while in a war, there are usually only two sides, or just a few (like in the two World Wars) in the corporate world, there are literally countless sides competing to get ahead in the same economy. So the corporate world is fast paced, unpredictable and evolving. One effect of this is that the capabilities that the corporate world needs from its employees are ever evolving too. Employees must always keep changing and upgrading to meet the new, upgraded expectations of their employers.
Evolving technologies heighten the need to upgrade even more. Earlier, software technologies were evolving and disrupting the business world at a breakneck speed. Today, even hardware technologies are upgraded equally fast. Companies like Intel and Freescale are launching new chips and hardware within months! This constant technological advancement is placing a heavy demand upon employees.
Not all employees, however, are able to keep up with this demand for constant change. Many get comfortable as they are, and therefore fall behind as compared to what companies demand from their roles.
The result of this is that the corporate world is always short on talent. So even though the restless world of job applicants is usually overcrowded, candidates with the required talents are always much fewer.
Smart transitioning soldiers know this. They have the advantage of making a lateral entry, which about which they know well in advance. So they can prepare well to make such a change. Smart soldiers, therefore, focus on four things to turn themselves into desirable resources for the hirers in the corporate world:
You can easily find out what qualifications you need for any industry role. through a careful study of that role, (Soldier2ndlife.com – Top Career Options, provides write-ups by successful veterans, on a whole range of career options, with the qualifications, skills and experiences required for them). As a soldier, these qualifications will help you compete with other non-military applications for a role. They will place you on an equal footing with other applicants.
Likewise, successful transitioning soldiers also put in effort to develop the skills required to excel in their target roles. Again, it is easy to find out what skills you require for a particular role.
Most importantly, the corporate world also looks for experience in the role for which it is hiring. If a person has worked as a security professional in the steel manufacturing industry, then he or she will find it much easier to get a job in the security function in a steel manufacturing company. Many soldiers miss this fact. They expect that just because they understand security (or any other function), they should get absorbed in that function in any industry. This is a mistaken assumption. Each industry has its own peculiarities. Every company in a particular industry therefore prefers hiring from within the same industry, because that appears to be the safest option to them..
Smart transitioning soldiers understand this need for industry specific experience (read Col Harmit Singh Sethi’s comments on the importance of industry specific experience in his interview by me). They make sure to gather this experience, either while in the military, or through volunteering while on leave or at the earliest after leaving, by interning with a company, or by any other means available. This fills a very big gap in their profiles, in the eyes of hirers.
And last, but not the least are the attitudinal strengths of soldiers. Soldiers are acknowledged even by the corporate world as being honest, loyal and committed, stable, and diligent, with a ‘do or die’ attitude. This last factor of attitude is the rarest. Companies might hire for qualifications, skills and experience, but what they seek most, in addition, is a great attitude. This is what differentiates a great employee from a good one, and every great company knows this.
This attitudinal edge which soldiers possess, makes them extremely desirable candidates, provided that they can fill their other gaps of certifications, skills and industry-specific experience.
Any soldier who is able to do the above, even partially, finds that there is no dearth of vacancies for him or her. On the other hand, such a soldier faces the dilemma of what to pick up and what to let go. Yes, well prepared soldiers, being multi-functional, multi-taskers, and highly adaptable (due to their experiences in the military), face the problem of plenty. They have to really focus carefully, to choose what they want.
So as a transitioning soldier, focus on developing yourself into an irresistible talent, by acquiring certifications, skills and experiences for your target role(s). Your attitudinal qualities as a soldier will add to these and will make you an irresistible draw to any hirer.
P.S. In my book, Soldier 2.0: 19 Steps to a Soldier’s Dream Second Life, I have attempted to provide a 19 step framework for soldiers and spouses to build the amazing second lives of their dreams. I believe that the power to achieve success in your second life lies in your own hands. The two keys are knowledge and preparation. If you too are transitioning to the civilian world, then I encourage you to check it out. You can get your copy at Amazon. You could also get a signed and personalized copy.