Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Senior Military Officers: Is a Military Recruiting Firm Right for You?

This week's post by Brian Henry, Vice President of Operations (Officer Recruiting) at Orion International, answers the question, “I am a retiring O-5 or O-6 and am wondering if I should engage with a recruiting firm like Orion International.  I have heard they only help JMOs.”

This is a great question.  While Orion’s primary focus on the officer side is the transitioning junior officer, there have certainly been plenty of success stories with more senior officers, as well.  First, I’ll address why the JMO profile is the primary focus for Orion and its client companies.  Then I will discuss some of the key factors that will either make a Senior Officer a good potential candidate for Orion’s Services or make it an unlikely match for the two parties.

Why JMOs?  Orion’s client companies are typically looking for us to provide them developmental talent coming from the military that can join their companies in a role where they can get their foot in the door, establish themselves in their business and bring a ton of upside potential to grow and develop.  The JMO brings valuable leadership and real world experiences from their 4-10 years of military service, and they are at an income level that is more closely aligned with the pay bands for the positions the companies can hire someone into without previous industry experience.

Generally speaking, the longer someone stays in the military, the more they earn, and they typically take on ever increasing roles of responsibility.  The earnings history and the level of responsibility attained in military positions without having direct related industry experience is seen by many companies as disqualifiers and reasons why they would not consider a Senior Officer for a position.

In the private sector, the higher up you go in an organization, it is more of an imperative that a candidate being considered for a role has directly related and specific experiences.  So Senior Officers, while bringing a breadth of experience and potential, can be seen as “over-qualified” for many of the roles JMOs typically go into, yet “not qualified” for the executive roles that look like more of a lateral move from their military titles.

So, it really comes down to what the transitioning Senior Officer is looking for.  Kurt Mondlak, a retired Navy O-5 SWO and USNA graduate, was looking for exactly what Orion had to offer: “Orion is an untapped resource for retiring O-5s and O-6s who do not wish to work as a government employee or work for the defense industry upon retirement. I was very impressed with Orion’s process and would certainly have not found my new career had it not been for Orion’s Distinguished Candidate Conference.” Here are a few of the key factors that helped SMOs like Mondlak decide to engage Orion.  If the following align decently with your transition goals and preferences, then I would definitely encourage you to apply and connect with a recruiter:

You really want to get into the private sector and away from the defense contractor or governmental career paths.  Orion’s client companies are typically private sector, for profit corporations representing a very wide range of different industries.

You realize that you may need to consider roles that a JMO with 12-15 years less experience may be qualified for, as well.  There just aren’t that many director level positions available and when they are available, it is less likely someone from another industry is going to be able to step right in and win the role.

You are able to convince a hiring manager that you truly are interested in the position.  You should also be able to convince them that they should not fear that you are used to significantly more responsibility and will tire of the position too quickly.  You can expect to face the “over-qualified” objection and must be able to convince those you interview with that you are most interested in getting into an exciting new career and that you are truly interested in starting in a role where you can leverage your experience while learning a whole new business.  Have confidence that, as you gain your footing, people will see that you are capable of taking on greater responsibility and that you will relish the opportunity to take on new challenges.

You are open to pay in the $70k+ range.  You see the value in getting your foot in the door and are interested in learning the business and then quickly proving your ability, becoming more and be promotable.  You can look at your retirement as a buffer to help offset the difference between your military pay and your starting civilian pay and are confident that as you gain experience and promote you will quickly get to where you wanted to be and start banking much more of your retirement.  Being open to the $70k+ range will put you in the right window to consider a lot more than if you demand $125k to start.  And who knows.  If you show true interest in an opportunity and get the company to like you and see you as a fit, they could then start thinking of other roles you don’t know about.  Once they see you as a fit and an asset to their team, all kinds of things can happen.

The more flexible you can be in terms of where you will work the better.  Everyone has preferences.  Hopefully, yours line up well with where companies are hiring.  If you are not able to move, it does not necessarily mean you can’t work with a recruiting firm.  Just realize that recruiters are limited to exposing you to just those opportunities that match up.  Someone who is willing to take a great opportunity anywhere in a region is likely to see a lot more options than someone who is retiring right outside of their last duty station.  If you are location restricted, determine if sales or business development may be a good fit for you.  And also think about just how much you are willing to travel.  Just be honest with your recruiter.  We don’t want to present candidates for positions they will not realistically consider an offer.  Our responsibility to our client companies is to screen and present to them just those candidates that are deemed qualified AND interested in the opportunity.

You are looking to leverage and use your leadership, project management, maintenance management, technical management, logistics, and/or business development related experiences from the military in a new and exciting career.  These are the skills we see in most demand.
What type of Career might an SMO find through a Recruiting Firm? This excellent question can also help an SMO determine if working with a firm like Orion is the right choice. Below are real-world examples of careers Orion helped SMOs find:
  • Supply Chain Manager, Honeywell Aerospace, $85K
  • Cost Estimating Engineer, BASF, $106K
  • Project Manager, Siemens Industry, $80K
  • Production Supervisor, Stryker, $85K
  • Director Inventory Management, National Grid, $150K
  • Facility Security Officer, ESCO Marine, $120K
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If you match the criteria set out above, there is a good chance a military recruiting firm could be of service.  A discussion with a recruiter will help confirm if there is a good potential that they can help and set realistic expectations.  Orion is a free service to job seekers, so why not add Orion to your tool kit as you search for your next career? Click here to register.

Brian Henry served for 11 years in the Marine Corps during which time he served as a Company Executive Officer, Company Commander, and Branch Head for the Marine Corps Amphibious Raid Branch, as well as attended the Army’s Ranger and Airborne Schools and the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia, where he finished in the top 5% of his class.

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