Four Invaluable Skills to Impress the Company Gatekeeper

Three National Guard Soldiers in Dress UniformsIt may seem that Human Resources representatives stand between you and your future boss with questions that have little or nothing to do with your area of expertise. That’s because they judge job candidates on an entirely different set of scales. It may even seem like they are there just to prevent you from moving forward. While it’s true that only a few get by these corporate gatekeepers, don’t take it personally, that’s their job. They’re trained to narrow the field for the hiring manager to make the final decision.

So how do you get past them? Ask any HR pro and they’ll tell you that talent acquisition goes beyond those skills and qualifications directly related to the position they need to fill. They also must take into account how your particular personality, habits, and quirks fit into the corporate or company culture, team dynamics, and individual management styles. Almost invariably, these can be reduced to these four traits which are learned, reinforced, and enhanced in the Army National Guard:

Discipline: In a nutshell, discipline means doing what you’re supposed to do, when you’re supposed to do it, whether or not you want to do it. Employers want you to have this quality because it takes tremendous discipline to stay motivated, maintain a routine, and keep on schedule. The Guard reinforces this characteristic starting at Basic Combat Training (BCT, also known as boot camp). From Reveille (when you wake up) to Taps (when you go to sleep), you are expected to stick to a rigid schedule as you complete your training. This teaches you the importance of time management, dedication, and our next invaluable skill …

Teamwork: Teamwork is disparate parts working together to achieve a single unifying goal. If you think about it, nearly everything is the product of systemic teamwork. Quarterbacks don’t usually complete passes to themselves, chefs can’t cook and deliver food to tables at the same time, gas stations can’t dispense gas without the gas truck filling their tanks first. So it is in the Guard. From the smallest component of the team to the entire battalion, every Soldier in every Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) has their duty and place to keep the system running smoothly.

Experience: No matter what your eventual MOS, in the Army National Guard you are trained to handle arguably the most stressful situation on earth: combat. Compared to combat, all other workplace pressure situations just seem somewhat less intense. It’s this conditioning that boosts your confidence, adds a bit of swagger to your step, and makes everything a little easier. When something is easier, that makes you confident, and that confidence shows.

Integrity: This is actually a set of attributes that can go far in setting you above many otherwise qualified candidates. It includes respect for others, honesty, honor, duty, and loyalty. While it may appear that integrity defined as such is in short supply in the workforce, nothing exemplifies this better than someone willing to sew the United States flag on their shoulder and don camouflage as their business suit.

The time you spend serving part-time in the Guard does more than expose you to these traits, it immerses you in them. It steeps you in them and allows them to saturate you. And these are skills that are completely transferable to the civilian world regardless of your choice of careers. In short, your Guard training will make you an immediate asset to any company looking for career-minded people rather than just a cog in the machine.

And the gatekeepers know this.

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Falling Through the Cracks is NOT an Option

Young Woman in the LibraryFalling through the cracks is a bad thing that can happen to good people. No one wants to do it and no one just lets it happen, but happen it does. All too often someone becomes a statistic, whether by perpetuating a cycle of poverty or simply not living up to their intellectual and earning potential. This is not about socio-economic class, race, or gender. This is about Americans denied the opportunity to live the American dream for one reason or another. But there are ways to plug the cracks, and the best way to do that is through higher education.

During the past couple of months, On Your Guard has told you about the benefits of going to college and how you can access education benefits that can pay up to 100 percent of your tuition, and how you can participate in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) while simultaneously attending college and serving part-time in the Army National Guard. But that’s just the beginning. The Guard doesn’t stop there. We want all of our Soldiers to have access to their own American dream.

For those with existing college loans – So you’ve already accrued some college loan-related debt and are just now hearing the call to serve your State and Nation. That learning is valuable, so it makes sense to reward you for the education you’ve already achieved. For just such a situation, the Guard offers a Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) that could repay up to $50,000 on existing student loans.

For those in a hurry – Would you be interested if the Guard could help you save money and graduate from college faster? Of course you would. That’s why the Guard offers College Credit Exams, which enable students to earn college credits for what they already know.

Through CLEP (College Level Examination Program); DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests); and ECE (Excelsior College Examinations), Guard members can test out of courses by demonstrating knowledge comparable to that of someone who has completed the classroom coursework. Thousands of colleges award credits based on these exams and testing fees are waived for Guard members, thus enabling you to test out of courses, earn the credits, and possibly graduate faster. And if you want to become a teacher, DANTES even funds Levels I and II of the three-part PRAXIS Series™ tests used in many teacher licensing certification processes.

For those who need help – No matter what your education level currently is, everyone needs a little help from time to time. You see, the Guard wants you to better yourself through education whether you left high school before completing your course requirements, are preparing for the SAT, or are working toward an advanced degree. If you didn’t complete high school, the Guard’s GED Plus program can prepare you for the GED examination so that you can earn that diploma. If you are studying for college entrance exams, the Guard can help prepare you for the ACT and SAT and even provides its members with free academic testing. And through the National Guard Education Support Center, Guard members can receive automated degree planning, college credit assessments, cost-free virtual counseling, distance education alternatives, and free test-out preparation.

Clearly, the Army National Guard is prepared to make a significant investment in your education and your career to make sure you are not one of those who fall through the cracks. The only question that remains is whether you’re willing to make a similar investment in your State, your Nation, and your future.

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Buck Tradition: Increase the Role of Women in Non-traditional Occupations

Two National Guard Military Police officersThere’s an old riddle that psychologists use from time to time: A father and his son are in a car accident. They get to the hospital, both unconscious, and the child is rushed into surgery where the surgeon looks at the patient and declares, “I can’t work on this patient, he’s my son.”

If you’re like most people, you’re thinking, “But, but … how … was he adopted by the other man?”

Then it hits you. The surgeon is the boy’s mother.

You see, we often – and unconsciously – assign gender roles to various professions. It’s a fact that most surgeons are men. So are most police officers, firefighters, mechanics, helicopter pilots, plumbers, and construction workers. But certainly not all of them are. We’ve just been conditioned by years of historical precedent to think otherwise.

Well, to quote the incomparable Bob Dylan, “the times they are a changing.” Women represent almost half of the U.S. workforce and hold 51 percent of high-paying management and professional positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Clearly, women are bucking tradition in professional positions, and it’s time to start thinking differently about gender roles in all careers because there’s no reason women can’t accomplish the same in every profession and trade.

The Army National Guard can help women make inroads through leadership and skills training, and with ample education benefits. And while combat positions are closed to women, hundreds more Military Occupational Specialties are available, such as the military equivalent of:

Police Officer: Dreams of donning law-enforcement blue? To join the 15.5 percent of the police force that are women (according to the U.S. Department of Labor [USDL]), wear green first as a military police (MP) officer in the Army National Guard. And while serving part-time as an MP is not a guarantee that you’ll be a civilian police officer, between the experience and the potential for preference on civil service exams, it’s something that can help your resume rise above the rest.

Firefighter: The USDL indicates that only 3.4 percent of firefighters are women. The professional experience that comes from the training and education you’ll receive as a firefighter in the Guard can go far in helping you enter this exciting and important field.

Pilots: The Guard operates a fleet of helicopters. We here at On Your Guard have never, ever seen a sign on the cockpit door that reads “Men Only.” But you’d think that were the case with the USDL statistics that say that only 1.3 percent of commercial pilots are women. Pilots in the Guard attend top-notch aviation training and participate in missions and training most civilian pilots only dream of.

Mechanical Trades: Is it difficult for women to find positive inroads into the auto service industry? Women in the National Guard find no such roadblocks. If you’re a gearhead, we’re here to support that and will expose you to a range of equipment that will test your skills and help you hone new ones.

Construction Trades: Which of the following occupations do you think have a female workforce of less than 2 percent according to the USDL: Carpenters, construction equipment operators, HVAC workers, cement workers, brick and stone masons, and plumbers? If you said “all of them,” you’d be right, but there’s something just not right about that statistic, is there?

So there you have it, the Army National Guard is a bastion of opportunity for people who want to serve part-time while developing skills that can serve as a foundation for any number of in-demand careers. Check out all the opportunities at and find position openings near you on our online job site.

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