Why You’re Being Told To “Hit the Website and Apply”

I’ve seen loads and loads of articles/posts/updates over the past few weeks hitting my timeline with Transitioning Veteran job-seekers stating something along the following lines:

“I had a great conversation with a recruiter and he/she told me to go to their company website and apply for some positions and then let them know. The company claims to like hiring Veterans but they just drive me into the black hole that is their company website to drive applicants.”

While I understand that this can be incredibly frustrating to hear (I heard it, myself, less than a year ago as a transitioning Veteran), there is a reason you’re being told to do so. Because of numerous compliance laws that are on the books in this country, Veteran recruiters and Veteran Recruiting Teams (VRTs) cannot headhunt Veterans because of rotating door policies. A number of companies that possess VRTs also have millions, if not billions of dollars in Federal Contracts. Because we are in possession of those contracts, there are some hoops that need to be cleared before we can start having a full-fledged discussion about coming to work at our companies. One of those hoops is having the candidate create a profile on the website and then apply for 2-3 positions. There are numerous reasons for that, one is compliance, the other is to help give the VRT some actionable intel.

There are close to 250,000 Transitioning Veterans a year that begin reaching out to VRTs anywhere from 18 months before to 18 months after the Veteran completes their transition….that’s a whole bunch of job-seekers. Further, a lot of these companies have thousands of positions that are open within their walls. If you want to be successful when it comes to transitioning from the military, do NOT shoot a note to a VRT on here saying:

“hey dude, whatcha got for me job wise?”

That is not the best way to kick-off a discussion and will only add time to your interaction with a VRT. This is your new battleground. You didn’t show up to an Afghan village and ask the Elder “so what’s the deal here, man.” You conducted months of research before heading to that country, gathered intelligence on anything and everything you could find, and then went to NTC or JRTC and conducted some dry-runs before stepping foot in country. The same applies to your interactions with a VRT. Give them actionable intel. Try this:

“Hey Max, I am transitioning from the USMC in early June and I was hoping to learn some more about your company and where I can come in and help the team. In a perfect world I would be working somewhere in the Southeast US doing business analytics. I spent my time in the military serving as an intelligence NCOIC and that seems to line up very closely to the role of business analyst III, requisition no. 12345 on your company website where I’ve created a profile. What would you recommend I do for the next steps?”

In this message you’ve now given the VRT your start date, your military background, your ideal geographic location, your ideal line of business and even an example of what you deem an ideal role to be. The VRT now has every last thing they need when it comes to launching your job-search within their company.

VRTs are incredibly busy people. I don’t say this to sound entitled or to make excuses for not performing, it’s just a fact of life. Most companies that have VRTs have 2-3 people on that team and they spend a ton of time traveling to military career fairs and they also spend a great deal of time volunteering with organizations such as Team RWB, Team Rubicon, or even speaking at local Veteran gatherings. Because VRTs have busy schedules and talk to hundreds of Veterans each month, the best way to utilize this tremendous asset is to do some due diligence, using their website and then come to them with the actionable intel.

Further, the sooner you reach out to the VRTs as it centers around your transition, the better. You give them more time to take action on your job-search. If you’re too early in the process, they’ll tell you when you should consider applying, how, where, etc. VRTs are tremendous resources to have on your side when it comes to the job-search, but there are good and bad ways to utilize this resource.

Finally, people who comprise these VRTs are here to HELP. Most of us served within the military, ourselves, and we can give you honest feedback on where you stand in the process and what you need to do on your end. People who serve on VRTs are doing so because they truly believe in the Veteran candidate and what Veterans can bring to the table. The VRT is your best-friend, they are your advocate. Do some work on your end and then trust your asset to push you across the finish line.

I didn’t write this article as a means of attacking transitioning Veterans or anything along those lines. Like I mentioned, I experienced these exact same frustrations, myself, less than 12 months ago. Now that I am “on the other side” I’m able to see some of the disconnect.  I wrote this article to help the transition Veteran understand why they’re being told to do certain things. I hope this helps shed some light on the process.

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