A New Approach to Veteran’s Transitions – Fire and Maneuver

Deltas Walking
My Last Day in Uniform along side my Transition Support Team.

While I decide on the next series of articles for LifebyDamien, I wanted to give an update on the world of Damien Bertolo as it will affect the focus of the next series of articles.

As those of you who follow are aware, I was working to build a Veteran Recruitment Division for a Staffing Agency in Manhattan.  While continuing on with that division is no longer in the immediate future plans for that agency, I have been debating the depth at which I will continue to move forward with it.  As it stands, I intend to work on two “fronts”.  First, I will focus my efforts, as an Independent Consultant, to help employers develop hiring, and on-boarding programs that will provide opportunities to Veterans. Second, I will use my own personal time, at no charge (in sort of an unofficial, self-funded NFP function) to aid Veterans who are transitioning out of the military.

Currently, I will be working for the New York Stock Exchange as in Independent Consultant, aiding (while also learning) in their Talent Acquisition of qualified candidates for needed roles.  I am very excited to be offered this opportunity as it provides benefits to me on MANY fronts!

To continue consulting additional organizations, I want to move away from Talent Acquisition, aka Recruiting, in an operational function.  Instead of giving employers “fish” when they are hungry, I want to give them the pole, line and tackle box.  From those I have talked to, it seems employers don’t have a solid grasp on how to identify the solid Veteran Talent, how to interview Combat Veterans, what to look for, what to dismiss, and what to keep.  I’d like to help employers develop their HR functions to be able to do all of the above, successfully.  This way they will see the direct, short and long-term value that the unique traits offered by Veterans provide to an organization.  Then they can continue with their efforts long after I am gone and WITHOUT having to pay a recruiter fee each time they are seeking a qualified Veteran to add to their organization.

As a Not-For-Profit function, I haven’t decided on a name, but I am thinking “DPB Transitions” might be it.  I have already done it before, and I’d like to position myself to do even more of it in an official capacity.  I want to help Veterans see the smoothest of transitions to the “civilian world” as possible.  In an effort to do so, I intend to offer my knowledge learned in HR, recruiting, and professional development to pass on to Vets, so they aren’t reinventing the wheel.  I will offer my help, and my network to any Vet transitioning.  This includes but is not limited to, Networking, Resume Construction (not just a template, but actually understanding the coded 8.5” x 11” grail), Interview Prep, Salary Negotiations, Professional Development, Life Coaching and any additional odds and ends that help the Veteran stay focused on a successful mission of transition.

Why do I think my two-laned approach will work?  Simple – this is Fire and Maneuver, not Attrition, nor Fire and Movement.  When a Recruiting Agency markets their military talent, they offer it one time, with one success per contract, and more importantly, one fee.  They will seek through as many candidates as possible until they find one that “makes it through the lines” and gets placed (Attrition, or maybe Fire and Movement if actually done well).

I will develop a sense of employers’ needs, through consulting and developing their HR functions with the ability to seek, screen and on-board Veterans. This gives me a look at the clients’ positions.  In Military tactics jargon – I’m turning the map around.  Then, I am in touch with Military Talent, Veterans eager to be of value to society.  I am able to help them, and guide them, with the insider’s view of the other side of the “battlefield”.  Then, Employers can trust I will refer quality talent to them, without any fees per hire.  I pin down the employers needs as a Consultant; and I aid the Veterans to move around and penetrate their lines (get hired) as a NPO – Fire and Maneuver.

Advice, support and resources to recommend are always appreciated!

Don’t forget, find me at: Damien B on LinkedIn or on Twitter @Mr_DamienB

My Personal Brand Part III (From a Brand You Are Given to a Brand You Will Name)

My Personal Brand Part III (Veterans transitioning; from a brand you are given to a Brand you will name)

To conclude my three-part series of “My Personal Brand”, let’s discuss how the dynamics of personal branding changes for U.S. Military Veterans – or at least from my experience.  In the “civilian world”, when it comes to Branding, differentiation is critical.  Without differentiation, your brand is weak and you are not much more than a commodity in your industry – just another number.  In the military, differentiation is largely frowned upon.  Members of the military are the epitome of conformity and uniformity. The only approved and sought after differentiation supported and condoned is that which is based on merit and performance.  It is okay to stand out because your performance is above that of your peers.  Beyond that – don’t try to be different.

To the public eye, a Marine, in or out of uniform is first and foremost a Marine.  Your attributes, both good and bad are first accredited to the Marine Corps and THEN you are considered as a person.  In the Corporate World, an employee’s attributes are accredited FIRST to his personal brand and THEN to his organization.  This is a vital shift in perspective and dynamics that must be understood by Transitioning Veterans.  A Veteran can no longer assume that being part of a successful organization will result in the assumption that he or she is successful as a person.  Rather, an organization will look at your personal brand, and if your brand will contribute to the organization’s success.  From that point forward, your actions will define a brand that is associated with you.  Do you care about money? Do you care about philanthropy?  Can you be trusted? Are you good at your job? Are you dependable?  Anything you do will shape, mold and detail your brand both personally and professionally and you are the SOLE PROPRIETOR responsible for all operations, execution and public relations regarding “I Incorporated” branding.

Professionally, there are two major areas to develop in your brand: Skills and Traits.  This is an idea I came up with while building the Veteran’s Recruiting Division (an architecture I will be using to help Veterans transition).  Skills are those abilities that we can learn in class, through practice, and are taught – often in an academic environment.  One can be taught out to add, type, send emails, develop databases, etc.  There are MS Office skills, athletic skills, software development, writing code, completing a SWOT analysis, folding a t-shirt, etc.  Traits cannot be taught in a classroom.  Traits are embedded abilities, developed over time and speak to a person’s character.  These are abilities that have to be ingrained  trained over time and reinforced through habit and ultimately retained through confidence in their importance to the quality of one’s personal brand.  To give a specific example, the Marine Corps has what they call “14 Leadership Traits”:

–          Judgment

–          Justice

–          Dependability

–          Integrity

–          Decisiveness

–          Tact

–          Initiative

–          Endurance

–          Bearing

–          Unselfishness

–          Courage

–          Knowledge

–          Loyalty

–          Enthusiasm

Having favorable strength in these areas is not something one can build in a classroom.  Traits are force multipliers that vastly improve the efficacy of skill.  The fiscal investment needed to build or develop traits like those listed is far more extensive than any certificate course.  Traits are what Veterans bring to the table. Traits are what Veterans, and most Employers alike, don’t know how to translate in a resume.  It is these traits that will be the guide for Veterans to build their personal brands upon.  Understanding the traits and applying them accordingly is what will build the individual brands of Veterans.  These traits are differentiators.  These traits make skills much easier to acquire and to sharpen.

Skills may provide immediate benefit, and the first 90-days of a job opportunity, but TRAITS are what employers and organizations are truly betting on and will determine success beyond the short-term.  Skills are also the medium in which traits are demonstrated. So it is also important for anyone who is trying to display or build their brand to understand, you may have to invest in your own ability to translate your value through appropriate skills.

Veterans – please remember:  You went from being in a scenario where everything you did gave credit to a brand you were PART OF.  Now you are in a scenario where everything you do DEFINES the brand which YOU are.  Also, trust that the contributions you made to your Service Brand have developed the traits that now define YOUR brand.