In our search for qualified people, we need to look beyond the direct hiring application and see if there are other qualities or experiences that a new person might bring to the company even if they need to be trained to do the specific job.
Once trained, these new people will more than complement the company workforce; they will enhance it–perhaps even invigorate it. This can be accomplished by Human Resources screening, or simply by seeking certain qualities–success indicators and provide company training to provide specific job training.
It seems we do the opposite in looking for the perfect job fit, then we add in company fit factor and expect immediate success. In fact, in those of us in Training and Development, we often try to bring out or discover the same success qualities in those already on staff–those hired long ago under different circumstances.
Why not look at some employees (we already do for key employees like CEOs or Presidents) as having “more” –as in that more than what the job calls for–special talents we may be able to use in the future? Workers actually appreciate someone noticing they have other talents than what specifically they were hired for. Just ask them.
I’m sure many a qualified worker has gone through what I did nearly 25 years ago. I was a well-trained and educated public affairs officer with an excellent record, a master’s degree with post-graduate journalism courses, award-winning writing samples, and increasingly responsible service. There was only one problem: My experience was in the military. The fact it was considered the “least military” of the services and the most professional in the field of public affairs made no difference.
I had left the service early so I wasn’t even of retiring age (which can be late 30s in the military) so I was hardly an old man. I felt I was infinitely more qualified than many coming fresh out of school, but other factors made it difficult. There were other issues as well, and they made sense–even to me, but it still didn’t help the fact I needed a job and I was well-qualified.
- The global misconception that anyone involved in the military cannot relate to the civilian world of business.
- For those who might hire the military, they looked for women with less experience to fill the expected managerial void for women. Of course it came with a glass ceiling, but a woman could make it to the top of the public affairs or public relations game.
- Or, hiring a retired public affairs officer willing to take less money because he or she was, in fact, retired already with benefits.
The exceptions I believe can be compelling–especially if you fit into one of these categories.
- Companies and other organizations benefit, in some cases–by hiring military “brats,” who have been around world and understand diversity and cultural differences, who know how talk with people and show respect. Those I have met and worked with have a global sense of reality and they do understand people and cultural diversity better than most.
- There are, of course, some technical areas you could argue don’t make a direct correlation, i.e., the Beltway Bandits–those in high tech or high security positions who can make that immediate transition to government contractors.
I would maintain we need to look beyond direct application and see if there are other qualities or experiences that may complement the company. Don’t we promote that as trainers: that outside experience can be beneficial?
Here I was impressively qualified having been an officer in public affairs, personally briefed a president and vice-president and a host of other VIPs, taught at the prestigious Air Force Academy and ran the tour program inside Cheyenne Mountain. So, after the service, off I went to write the Great American Novel at home and work at Sun Glass Hut just to get out of the house.
As attractive as that situation seemed at the time, financially I’d much rather had a real job. I did get an offer teaching at my alma mater for a third of what I had made as an Air Force captain–and that position was temporary. My welcome to the real world, I guess.
However, life’s priorities being what they were at that time, I felt I could give up my military career. As far as I was concerned I had held some interesting jobs and what was left to do career-wise could easily be rather routine in comparison. Of course my goal had been to keep the marriage together, but it wasn’t meant to be either.
Now, financially ill and without a job, I found circumstances favored retired public affairs officers since they didn’t demand as much money to live on, and younger female public affairs or public relations professionals were preferred. I cost too much as middle management and didn’t have any extra advantageous like checking an HR special box.
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