Frequently transitioners forget to market the special strengths that they have developed while with their organization. The world of Intelligence and the world of the military and the professionals who make up these two “worlds” bring to potential employers a set of “traits” that are seldom matched throughout the rest of Government, business and industry. What is described below is what you have acquired through work experience and through the excellent training in which you have participated. Consider the points below and note those elements that are particularly applicable to your background.
As mentioned earlier, and frequently will be brought up during the program, is the fact that each of us must do our own self-marketing. This is a new experience for most of us, and networking will play a major part in the success of our self marketing. At this stage, let us identify some of the points that we will develop later as part of our marketing campaign.
Most if not all of the strengths described below are applicable in some degree to all levels of authority. The development of these traits can be understood as a byproduct of service. Generally speaking, the longer the service, the better developed the trait. Those “stepping away” (retiring) after 20 or more years can point out that most of these characteristics are ingrained—virtually a part of their way of life.
Individuals in the intelligence community and in the military stay and finish their projects and are recognized for completing their missions in a timely fashion and in an effective and efficient manner. These work habits are a definite result of the social maturity, integrity, determination, and self-confidence they have developed during their service. Their backgrounds have instilled pride, enthusiasm, and perseverance for their work. Employers are anxious to find employees with this work ethic.
Many have skills, knowledge and the ability or originate and implement a plan of action or methodology to answer and solve diverse challenges and problems regarding resources, cultures, geographic considerations ethnic and ethical considerations, people, legal and technical issues and considerations. The more senior in experience, the more the individual knows how to get things done, even if the function is not in his or her area of maximum expertise. Persistence in following through on an action to completion is a valued asset to the rest of the working world.
ABILITY TO WORK UNDER PRESURE AND MEET DEADLINES
This is true at all levels, from the most junior position all the way to senior management. Each person must do his or her own job, do it right the first time, and complete it in a timely manner. Members are continually setting priorities, meeting schedules, and accomplishing their missions. Pressure and stress are built into this, but service members are taught how to deal with these factors in a positive and effective manner. Stress and deadlines are very much a part of the world of work everywhere, however, not everyone out there can handle them as well as the career professional coming from either the Intelligence community or the Military.
Many understand difficult and often complex issues and solve these issues or challenges on the spot—without detailed guidance from their superiors. Executives in the private sector need to be able to do the same, and frequently the organizations seek out and hire seasoned professionals whom they know will get things accomplished without step-by-step instructions and without detailed supervision.
ABILITY TO GET ALONG WITH AND WORK WITH ALL TYPES OF PEOPLE
The Intelligence community and the Military seek out all types of Americans regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, economic status, age, religion, attitude, intelligence, or with certain exceptions physical condition. The more senior and the longer an individual has worked in these “worlds,” the more he or she has worked successfully with people of all types and backgrounds—with a broad spectrum of characteristics. This experience positions those “stepping away” after a career for roles where such experience is stipulated in position announcements for specific and special situations in both the private sector and in government organizations.
ABILITY TO WORK AS A TEAM MEMBER AND AS A TEAM LEADER
Essential to the Intelligence world and the Military is the ability to work as a member of a team. Almost all activity is performed with the assistance, coordination, and awareness of other persons or units. Many serve as team leaders where they have analyzed situations and options, and made appropriate decisions, given directions, followed through with a viable plan, and accepted responsibility for the outcome. A cooperative effort is equally necessary for efficient operations throughout the entire world of work.
In this organization individuals are trained to accept and discharge responsibility—responsibility for other people, for activities, for resources, and for one’s own behavior. This training includes setting an example, giving carefully considered directions, inspiring leadership capabilities in others, and continually motivating other personnel in the group.
Level of work and seniority typically result in reasonably high level security clearances. For many individuals with Government contracts, an existing clearance will simplify the process of obtaining approval for continuing civilian clearance. Initiating a request for a new security clearance can be extremely expensive and time consuming for an employer. Clearances indicate to potential employers that the applicant has already passed the necessary Government background checks, is trustworthy for security purposes, and has the requisite files and records with the U.S, Government.
CLIENT AND SERVICE-ORIENTATION
The more senior the more one operates in the “provision of services.” The positions require facilitating, explanation and expediting the furnishing of a wide range of customer services (e.g., specific, focused information, evaluations, assessments of financial, technical, human capital) to either or both internal and external customers. Never forget that customer service is now not only a function but a product and a service outside of the Intelligence and Military arenas.
Emphasis on additional and special education and training has been at the forefront of these organizations and credit should be taken for all special and added education and training. Examples today include emphasis on language and cultural knowledge and skills as well as technical skills.
SPECIALIZED ADVANCED TRAINING
All career fields designate a specialized focus and skill-building for individual positions. Advanced training and cross training can be in the computer, financial, medical, engineering, administrative, human capital, technical and security fields. Such training may have been completed in the classroom, in the office, on the project location, in the laboratory, or elsewhere on the job. The systems approach will encourage you to make an exhaustive listing of both your education and training to best employ selected elements in marketing.
EMPHASIS ON HEALTH
Please do not take this element for granted; employers value it highly. Opportunities to become and then remain fit are found at every major employer’s installations, and the military and para-military require fitness. Selections are often made on appearance, other elements being anywhere near equal. Good habits in this area will carry over to the next employer.
Not only do you properly emphasize healthy living, but you are also certified drug free as far as potential employers are concerned. Quite often, coming from your “world” there are a number of positive assumptions, among them being drug free, no problems with alcohol, and strong work habits with high performance standards.
ABILITY TO GIVE AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS
Professionals know how to work under supervision and can relate and respond favorably to others. They understand accountability for their actions and for their subordinates’ actions. They also undersand and use discipline in their lives and when dealing with others. They have learned to respect and accept legitimate authority.
STANDARDS OF QUALITY AND COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE
True professionals are continually striving to attain and surpass established Standards of Quality for themselves and their units. These Standards of Quality relate to the unit’s mission, training, performance, physical requirements, and educational goals. There is a commitment to excellence in all of these fields.
FLEXIBILITY AND ADAPTABILITY
All individuals who are truly professional have learned to be flexible and adaptable to meet the constantly changing needs of any situation and mission. Last minute changes are not uncommon in any quality working environment. Further, based on background, the true professional is able to adapt quickly.
Many in the Intelligence and Military communities have been stationed in various locations around the world. Such residency gives a broadened understanding of, and sensitivity to, the customs, politics, economics, languages, and cultures of other nations. More and more this is becoming a requirement for key and senior roles in both Government and private sector organizations. A simple example is the expansion of the European Union, requiring Americans to again garner a broader appreciation and understanding of that sector of the world’s economy.
ABILITY TO CONFORM TO RULES AND STRUCTURE
In any large organization, and especially in certain highly selective organizations, there are rules and structure to avoid major problems and internal breakdowns. Individuals in these organizations learned to work with the policies and culture in their environment. While in this environment, these individuals have also learned loyalty to their units and their leaders. Companies always value employees who demonstrate that they can work within the policies and culture and contribute to the bottom-line.
FAMILIARITY WITH RECORDS AND PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATION
The Intelligence and military communities are familiar with the necessity of keeping accurate and full documentation. Additionally, these professionals are accustomed to completing all paperwork in a timely manner. There is always the requirement for accountability. This experience is a distinct asset in the rest of the world of work.