It 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.