Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Value of the Military Skill Set - Part IX

Part IX - "Give a smart person with potential a chance" Index to the Series: Part I: Initiative, marketing, sales, project planning and program management skills Part II: Auditing Skills Part III: Operations 24/7/365 Part IV: “Point Papers” Part V: Collateral Duties Part VI: The “Git ‘er done!” Factor Part VII: “Total Care” Part VIII: Communications in the Workplace Part IX: "Give a smart person with potential a chance" Part X: Process Engineering, Continuous Improvement, Total Quality Management, Total Quality Leadership, or what ever you call it. The bottom line title: Making “it” better Part XI: The Military's Supply System Part XII: “Red Blood or Red Ink” Part XIII: Constructive Plagerism This post can be best catergorized by calling it "Give a smart person with potential a chance." This part of the series is a little bit of the reverse side of the equation. It’s a topic that I think merits being brought forward and it’s about how the military’s hiring system has a specific method of recruiting to other major corporations. It might do well for the civilian sector to consider this. My experience is that there are few places, outside of the military and military contractors, that take more than a passing consideration in hiring someone who doesn’t hold the specific “tickets” for a position. After leaving the military and working for a two contractors, I went out and tried to run my own business for a while. I realized I needed to head back into the work force, and as a result, I applied to many jobs that I had the hands on experience to fill. Since I had a degree in hard science, and not engineering or computers, I didn’t get the phone calls. Since then, I have found two good friends who have been recruiters for years and they confirmed my suspicions. If I didn’t have the degrees, I wasn’t going to get a call. I had lots of hands on, in and out of the military, but that didn’t count. Consider this: The US Military is one of the few places that looks at the potential of people and, based on their aptitude at fundamental skills, they are then accepted and trained. In industry, it’s basically if you haven’t got the experience, you can’t play. It’s a catch 22 for people trying to enter a new field, either for a first time job, or to change career fields. I suspect a lot of great people never get where they can do the most good, because they didn’t have some diploma from a recognized school. I don’t mean employers should wantonly accept anyone, but it may be prudent to consider those who have spent the time doing the work, without the benefit of schooling, and who are successful, for filling some positions. Another story from my effort at being a headhunter involves the story of a major bank, that relented and let a Marine Major join the company. In short order, they were amazed at how productive he was. In addition, his calm demeanor, in what was perceived as chaos to the bank employees, was noted. Think about it: After being trained as a Marine, what can possibly be a chaos anymore? They wanted more like him, having seen a glimpse of what an ex-service member could do, even without the “training.” The ASVAB battery of tests, and the AFQT exams are some of the basic skills tests the military uses. The ASVAB is for general skills, and the AFQT is for fitness to be accepted into a flying billet. From tests like this, many people have successfully performed incredibly complex duties, under incredibly difficult circumstances. Granted, the military also has an extremely well developed training capability, in order that those with the aptitude can then be provided with the actual specific skills necessary. This overhead of the training commands is a large expense, but it is a proven process. It boggles the mind to realize many of these young people who get through this would probably be rejected by major corporations, for a lack of capability, due to not having the experience. Think about it, potential employer, can you ask some questions that prove a basic aptitude for the position, and also to assess the ability of that person to absorb the information? If you can do that, you may just find an enthusiastic employee, that a few years down the road, has proven themselves to be able to outperform that person who showed up with only the certificate saying they knew something, but had no other life experience.

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