Vets need more than basic training to enter work force

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Vets need more than basic training to enter work force
by Anita Bruzzese

Michael Maddaloni is a career adviser, one with a unique spin. He gives seminars nationwide to military and law enforcement personnel who want to start a second career in “civilian” uniform.

These days, soldiers returning from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan attend his sessions to learn how to enter the civilian job market. He says that these combat veterans know that if they don’t leave the military, they face two or even three tours of duty in war-torn areas.

“These vets are really eager to move on,” Maddaloni says. “They’ve seen the worst of it and want out. They know if they stay (in the military), they’re going back.”

Maddaloni, a former Marine, Secret Service agent and security head for an international pharmaceutical company, knows the road from public service to civilian employment isn’t always easy. Those in the military often have no idea of how a private company works. Those in law enforcement may be ill-prepared to interview with a private employer, since they are often trained to ask questions, not answer them…

     

And, Maddaloni says many who have answered the public service call don’t really understand how their skills can be transferred to the private sector.

“You’ve got law enforcement people who want to put on their resume that they’ve been on the national pistol team, were a SWAT member or have counter-terrorist expertise,” Maddaloni says. “But employers don’t really see how they can use those skills. It’s something you mention in the interview, not on the resume.”

What Maddaloni recommends is that law enforcement and military personnel look at the big picture:

They are well-suited for working in a regimented environment;

They can take orders from the top down;

And they’re often highly motivated and disciplined.

Then, he says, they need to focus on companies that can use their individual skills.

In his case, Maddaloni says after his military and Secret Service work he was able to get a job with the pharmaceutical company by emphasizing how his experience in investigations, financial crimes and protection programs could translate to the private employer.

Maddaloni says there are other key issues that those entering the private sector from public service life should understand, including:

Doing your homework before an interview. “I once had a high-ranking police official who was looking to move into the private sector come to me when I was doing security for the pharmaceutical company. He says, “So, what do you guys do here?’ I told him, and he said, “Oh, yeah?’ He didn’t have a clue what we did.”

The lesson, Maddaloni says, is that other job candidates will do their homework about an industry and an employer. That means that to compete, those just entering the private sector — no matter their rank — must do the same. Don’t get caught looking foolish in front of an employer, he stresses.

Rehearsing your pitch. Maddaloni says that interviewers often ask standard questions, such as how the person’s skills can work for the employer. “I always say a person should be able to give a 45-second rundown of skills, done with confidence. Practice until you’ve got it perfect.”

Showing the money. “So many times (military and law enforcement) people leave money on the table because they don’t understand how salary, benefits or other kinds of compensation work in the private sector. They’re used to all that just being a part of the job. They don’t know how to negotiate for it,” he says.

While Maddaloni says that those entering a second career in the private sector are often highly motivated, they often make a common mistake in the early stages.

“Forty percent of them change jobs in the first three years. There is some trouble adjusting to civilian life, but much of that is because they didn’t plan well. They’ve got to start thinking about what they’d like to do before they retire or leave their public service jobs. The key is choosing a direction and setting their objective. Then they’ve got to plan on how to get it,” he says.

To see job listings for veterans click here

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