Warriors; and Employment
September 25, 2012 15 Comments
This is a special week for this blog, two of my friends (or their spouses) either have just or are soon to return home from Afghanistan. First is LTCOL Dan Bohmer whose blog Nine and a Half Hours Ahead, from Afghanistan, filled with pictures and stories about our guys and girls over there has been a wonderful experience for me. I hope he continues to blog about being back in the civilian world but mostly Welcome Home, Sir. The second one I will talk about later in the week since he is, at best, in transit.
We have all heard about the problems soldiers sometimes have readjusting to civilian life; they’re real and these guys and girls deserve all the help we can give them. My experience tells me that one thing they need is a job. The job market is still lousy, and it’s not going to improve a lot for a while. But that is not their fault, combat veteran, or shipping clerk they have honorably given our country literally years of their lives and some of their friends have given everything they had, including their lives for us. It’s payback time America.
I’m an employer, a very small one, right now it’s only me but, hopefully someday that will change. I’m an electrician and lineman by training and I’ve developed the skills to run a business, which is a very good thing because I’m getting too old to do the work. I’ve been up to 12-15 employees a time or two and I’ve worked for other companies as well. In other words, I’ve been around the barn a few times, and I know what it takes to be successful in this field. So what do I look for?
- Skills, I really prefer to train my own people but with the licensing we are under, I can’t always, so sometimes I need a journeyman electrician or power lineman. Know what, one of the ways to learn those skills is in the military. So that’s the first thing I look at in a résumé.
- Integrity is next, which is in increasingly short supply in our society. You see, in this business, sometimes we will bet our lives on the other guys word, we try not to go there but it happens. Who knows this better than an infantryman, he knows it up close and personal. The other thing is, my day isn’t long enough to go around all the time to see that you are doing all the details right, and believe me electrical work is all about the details. So when I ask if it’s done, I expect an honest answer, and I’d like to know if not, why not. By the way, I don’t take excuses, which seems to make me sort of rare anymore but, nothing I ever wired (In the last 45 years) has ever had an electrical fire, either.
- Teamwork is important, if we are doing much of a project at all we have to work together to get it done, hopefully on time and on budget. Most of my crews have been two or three people, occasionally up to five, and working together, and for that matter just plain managing to get along together is critically important. Basically the size of a tank crew or rifle squad.
- Initiative is important as well. Once you know the rhythm of the job, your supervisor shouldn’t have to tell you every step he wants you to take every time, you need to find productive things to do, without having your hand held all the time.
- Leadership is key, especially if you want a career, this is one (two, really) of those fields where most of the physical work is done by the younger guys, that’s why us old guys can still work and earn our keep. Once you get to be a journeyman, most likely if there is enough work you will be running a crew, and I hate to tell you this but, your pay will in some measure depend on how well your crew performs.
- Pride in yourself and in what you do, all day every day. Actually, I mean pride in doing a world-class job, always. And no, I don’t mean cockiness, or any of those pseudo-prides. I mean that deep solid self-confidence in you and your abilities.
- Miscellaneous Stuff: Sometimes you need physical agility, physical strength, it helps if you’re not color blind, and can manage to work outdoors in all weather conditions. If you want to do service or control work (my first love) you need to be able to reason logically and quickly.
You know what? I’ve just described what I want in a field employee, any employee really, how am I going to try to figure out from your résumé whether you have these traits. At best its a guess based on your experience, and the interview. But the best guide I’ve ever found for everything thing I want in an employee, except technical skills, which normally I prefer to teach myself anyway, is a military record. Show me an American NCO or junior officer, especially in the combat arms, and I’ll show you an ideal employee.
Guys my age know this because we were brought up by guys that built a career after their service in World War II and Korea. We may or may not have served ourselves but, we heard enough about it, and watched and learned from those wonderful veterans of our youth enough to know quality we see it.
- Skills Employers Seek But Don’t Find (prstaffing.com)
- Infographic: Employers and the Skills Gap (news.good.is)
- Canadian companies struggle to retain key talent (smallbizadvisor.ca)
- Six Secrets To Beat the Job Market (pbs.org)
- Employment workshop in Simi Valley geared to older job seekers (vcstar.com)
- Afghanistan vets get construction jobs with help of new website (metronews.ca)