Question for those in managerial positions, or those who work in the industry- overseeing supply chain to emerging markets:
Why do I keep seeing so many companies HR prefer niche skills to overall experience, maturity and capability? I understand the concept of "billable" but seriously, it takes years and significant experience to develop good judgement and ability to manage, lead, develop business. Is it time we turned away from over reliance on HR and word-for-word CV matches to job descriptions?
In developing business in emerging markets, especially overseas, you don't need someone whose used Oracle for 12 years. You need someone who can work with people and provide accurate assessments, and make sound judgement calls. Someone who can adapt, be agile.
By all counts- veterans "kill it" in the business world. Everyone speaks volumes of praise. Myself and all my peers are more and more frustrated though at how difficult it is to get positions commiserate with our experience.
I think its time the reality TV show mentality of answering the mysterious questions in just the right way and having a 100% compatible approach should end. I can't see how this means is sustainable over the long term, and I believe the company that learns to hire talent as opposed to CVs that are duplicates for job descriptions may just crack the code.
So who really comes to the defense of this process? Not just for supply chain to emerging markets- but any of them? This "ACP" site are legions of vets, with credible backgrounds, all looking for a shot. Yet, they don't seem to find success I'm seeing. Is it that they all are not suitable?
Please, some corporate type offer me an explanation, I'd be grateful. The successful vets I'm seeing all got out, went to an Ivy league school or close to it, and got MBAs. There has to be more to it then this.
One other item that needs to be considered when dealing with hiring. When a hiring manager is sifting through resumes, they are often hamstrung by the requirements sheet they are hiring against.
What I mean by that is if the hiring manager is hiring for a specific contract, they may have no choice or flexibility in the prescription of who they're looking for. They HAVE TO hire that purple unicorn because if they don't and the customer finds out the candidate they hired lacks certification A, B, or C... the company defaults the contract and will likely have to pay fines among other penalties.
Been a few years since Afghanistan... I hope you're transition and civilian life is going great, Joe. Stay in touch!
#1: You know as well as everyone else here that ultimately it comes to who you know. Every HR is "overworked" by online resume submissions. You/any Vet want a job? Network. It is hard to network initially - can't really look to your right or left on that one. Oh, btw, personal knowledge of another person isn't the way either... it's the second hand/tertiary connections that make it the most.
#2: Military has the worst ability to create a 1-2 pg resume. Only you know what u can do, have done. Posted jobs are all "dream" lists of a positions "need." If you meet 80% of required and 10% of additional skills, you are a fit. However, see #1.
#3: Transition is daunting and full of concerns. But so isn't any deployment. This transition, is you leading yourself and have no-one to lay accountable except yourself. Sites like this have real people who will help - more importantly - have means to help. Get a mentor if you have not already.
Luck isn't for you - you are the secret sauce.
I don' t see"gaming the system" as a good alternative.
Yes, I hear you - HR is often a blockage on the road to starting a career.
As a former corporate executive overseeing Procurement/Contracts and Materials: Get a job - any job - in Purchasing (Supply Chain). You might have to start at or near the "bottom", I am sorry to report.
Experience and performance count and will be noticed - and if not -- quit and go to a different company.
A college degree helps get in the door, but experience is important also.
An MBA is a big help but if you are so inclined, a good student, and have the funds, a JD is a sure winner.
Joe, you said "Is it time we turned away from over reliance on HR and word-for-word CV matches to job descriptions"
Unfortunately they cannot. These days virtually every larger company requires online Resume submittals and applications because they are computer-sorting those Resumes. In a way, they don't want to bother with people who haven't figured out how to fool the computer into forwarding their application to a real person. But the larger reason is that they just get so many spurious applications.
Keep in mind that to maintain unemployment benefits the government requires people on unemployment to prove that they are job seeking. While it is shameful and disgusting to have to bring this up the simple reality is that there's a great many people out there that regard unemployment as a time of paid vacation. They get fired and decide I'm going to spend the next 3 months on unemployment and take the time to paint the house, drive to Disneyland, or just goof off. It just takes a few minutes a week at a computer applying to different places to meet the requirements for the next unemployment check. They go for months and months and months without finding a job but somehow within a few weeks of the end of benefits ...like magic, they suddenly find something. Amazing!
HR is therefore flooded with Resumes and applications from people who actually really don't want to get hired. I've sat in applicant interview round tables where the applicant comes in and their body language and every answer they give screams "don't hire me" You cannot blame the HR people for resorting to computer sorting.
Now, you have a point that a simple succession of interviews will not determine compatibility. That is very true. However you have to also remember that cultural fit is a moving target, too. The company culture at the moment changes in the future and when the candidate is hired their own behavior also changes the culture. The issue here is that part of what you are stumbling over is "real fit" and "fake fit"
"fake fit" is when "fit" is used to not hire someone who happens to be a member of a legally protected class so you can't say why they were really not selected because if they have some way of construing it to be about their class you are sunk because they will sue you. Such as the person in a wheelchair who applies at an office that is on the second floor of a building with no elevator, or the Native American young person covered with face tats and piercings who applies for a position as a waiter. (except if they are applying at Starbucks - in that case it's the Native American young person who is NOT covered with face tats and piercings who won't get it - ha ha)
"real fit" is when you have someone who walks into the interview with a MAGA hat on who is interviewing for a position as a signature gatherer for a Save The Whales petition.
There IS such a thing as cultural fit out there but it's really not as much of a problem as it's made out to be - because the MAGA hat candidate probably is completely uninterested in applying to work for Save The Whales and so the "real fit" compatibility issues don't come up as often as you would think. As a result "fit" is overused to describe the situations where something else is the problem like the candidate showing up with their "service chihuahua" in their arms.
Unfortunately, the problem is that as more and more legal entities get involved in the hiring process it is tending to cast the hiring process in concrete and kill creativity. In my city for example they passed a "ban the box" ordinance, well the unintended side effect of that is that now -everyone- is required to fill out an employment application just so the hiring company can prove to the government Nannies that they aren't asking about past felony conviction history. So the 6 figure VP candidate who in past years would be hired with a Resume and an interview is now filling out the same application that the fast food worker fills out (in addition to his Resume) And this "ban the box" thing is the new big trend among cities these days.
Overall, the hiring and selection process IS a system. And systems CAN be "gamed", people have been figuring out how to "game the system" for centuries now. Don't waste your time getting upset about a broken system that's getting cast in concrete that you are smart enough to figure out how to game, just game it, get your job, and recognize that the system is just going to continue to get worse in the future and the saving grace is, as you pointed out, that the hiring process is just as unable to block out the talented people from getting into the door as it's unable to block out the mistakes from getting in the door.
Good Afternoon Joe,
I can understand your frustration with the civilian hiring process and matching skills to the jobs that one is applying too. I served 12 years in the USAF and left as a E-6 (Technical Sergeant). I found the first six months extremely difficult to adapt to my new civilian environment and find a job. After fours years of being out, I have learned a few key aspects that has helped me design my career for future growth and marketability. I am currently a manager at a Express Scripts (a Fortune 23 company) and I find myself to be fairly successful with the potential to continue to be promoted to complex positions. Below are my thoughts.
HR is not looking for 100% match of skills. Most job descriptions set an ideal candidate that the majority of people will not match 100%. Use your Oracle example, if a candidate meets all other requirement and beside Oracle experience, then typically that candidate would be interviewed. The one exception to this rule is if Oracle was a IT position that required detailed knowledge on the software maintenance or creation, database management, programmer, Oracle project manager and so on. Outside of that, not having system experience will not disqualify a candidate from a position.
Resumes do matter. It speaks to your clarity, ability to write, identify and quantify accomplishments, the level of responsibility and so on. Remember that the resumes purpose is to get you in front of the interviewer.
When applying to a position using key words helps an HR recruiter to find the right applicants. One lesson that I learned was every application must have a unique resume attached. This helps to redefine my skill base in comparison for what I am applying for. Spend some time matching skills to the position with the proper terminology to get in front of the right people. In addition, converting military experience into applicable civilian terminology is difficult and takes time to perfect. It makes a major difference. Throughout the past few years I have revamped my LinkedIn and my resumes a hundred times to more appropriate terminology.
Education is important, but education alone does NOT get you a job. Education fulfills a desirable requirement for the job description and helps you get an interview. From there, your interviewing skills are put to the test. Many of the position for the next stages to my career prefer an MBA and prefer career specific certification, both of which I have completed. Finishing this education fulfills the desired requirements, but will not guarantee a promotion or a new position. Only my successes and interviewing skills make the promotion desire a reality.
Success as a civilian:
Civilian careers are not designed the same as the military. In the beginning i found this to be very frustrating. Here is the distinction.
- The military matches a position based on an individuals rank. The military also gives opportunity for promotion on a set time frame when your performance in on par or better.
- Civilian careers matches a persons experience, capabilities, education, ect. to the position that is needed. It does not guarantee moving up through the ranks or even providing opportunities to grow.
At times, you have to take a step or two back to go forward in your new career and put in your time to work your way up. The willingness to take a step back and build a new experience base is very important. The reality is, the people getting out of the military are embarking on a new career path. The military prepares us to be ready for many situations, but that does not necessarily mean getting a higher or equivalent position in the civilian world.
Culture fit is important. For the military, we embrace the units that we are assign to and make the best of it. Then we are moved to another unit, and another, and another. Each with its own culture. However, the military needs you to accomplish a mission with set tasks and then you move to the next place and continue the cycle.
Civilian companies are more and more looking for the right people to fit the company and department culture. At times, this means taking a less qualified candidate that better fits the culture. This is an important distinction. When applying for a company, look at their website, read article about the company, try and ask people about the culture to see if that is something that matches your personality.
Please let me know if I can help out and give my perspective on any additional questions.
I think, for the group, this article says it all https://www.wsj.com/articles/companies-say-no-to-having-an-hr-department-1396994461
Thanks for those great points. I'm tracking on all. I already have a well paid position with a contracting/advising company in Afghanistan. The parochial realities of job interviews and resume's isn't the issue I'm questioning, its that companies, with the current use of their HRs, are horrible at recruiting talent in this way it seems. Also, my intent isn't to "get a job" I'm very successful at that. Its to get to a position where I can provide my highest and best use. I'm looking at this from a macro level- not a "I'm a vet so give me a job" but rather to question a widespread corporate practice that seems to have evolved in the last 8 years and seems very ineffectual.
Francis, thanks for that answer. I'm no good at "gaming" systems anyway. I only have one face. I think many vets are happy to start on the bottom. Though well paid, I'm currently at that level in my company, in my first post military civilian job. However I'm observing real veiled hostility and the most nonsensical paradigms. It is a reality TV show, an online dating game. What astounds me is the faulty assumptions and utterly immature questions posed by some interviewers. Not just me but many post military retirement men are seeing the same. Sorry for my bluntness, but the corporate world seems to me one that lacks every fiber of integrity and candor and is largely dependent on debt and investment rather then the skill and ingenuity they pride themselves on. Thanks for the advice.
Ted, Thank you for your excellent and candid answer and for the time you put into it. It's a comfort to know that this is a real systematic issue and not merely my own inability to comprehend an unseen value in it. A trusted contact I have just told me its "a numbers game" which is a phrase often used in the military. I like what you said about the truly talented being able to circumvent it. Thanks.
Thanks for that terrific answer. My take away if one meets "all of the above" in spades, does everything right, it is still a reality TV show of finding a "cultural fit." I personally don't agree with that mentality. For one, there is no way one can tell, unless they have ESP, if a simple succession of interviews determines compatibility. Elite military units can't even figure that one out. I see it as a cop out. Perhaps the high school and college experience is the most formative in our American business culture which is why the hiring process is counter-intuitive. I'd hire the best qualified, the most talented, the most experienced and put up with any personality quirks or differences. So all this talk about "diversity" gets thrown out the window for "fit?" I find that humorous. Perhaps this current culture will change, because I don't remember this prior to my military experience starting in the late 90s. Thank you for answering my question.
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