BTU #239 - Career Advice #2 with George Randle

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Why Listen:
George joined me on episode BTU #222 and I enjoyed our conversation so much, I wanted to have him back on the show as soon as possible to dive deeper. In this interview we answer questions submitted by the Beyond the Uniform community. We talk about how compensation is not just about salary. We talk about a specific timeline to use in your job search. We talk about how to structure your resume and what role a cover letter should play.

About George:
George Randle is the Senior Director, Global Talent Acquisition at Forcepoint, the human-centric cybersecurity company that understands behavior and adapts security response and enforcement to risk. He started out in the Army, where he enslisted in 1984, and was commissioned via ROTC. He served in the Army for 21 years, with over 11 years on Active Duty. Since his military service, he has worked in the recruiting space at companies including BearingPoint, BoozAllen Hamilton, HP, and Millennium Management. 

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Glassdoor - website to research salary ranges

Transcript & Time Stamps:


Joining me today from Austin, Texas is George Randall. For listeners - if you haven't listened to Episode #222, it is a must listen. It’s a conversation in which George and I talked about common mistakes veterans make in the transition to their civilian career. We didn't have enough time to even scratch the surface of George's knowledge so I’m excited to have him back on the show.


First, we have some questions from our listeners. Chief Warrant Officer David Lewis from the Army asks ‘I am finding many jobs that I would like to apply to but I'm still six months out from the date of my terminal leave. Should I apply so they know that I'm interested or wait until I'm closer to my terminal leave date?’

Generally, it depends upon the nature, type, and the level of position because there's so many variables. Right now, it’s a candidate’s market meaning that unemployment is dropping so people move on talent much faster and I expect that to continue well into 2019. So my advice would be to start applying when you're about 60 days out. Sixty days is the longest it would take to get through any interviewing process. So the timings right I think at about 60 days to start applying.


David also asked, ‘I'm seeing jobs that I would like to apply to but I'm unaware of the salary for that position. Is there a way to find out what a job pays without wasting both the applicants’ time and the organization's time if the desired salary is not in the ballpark? 

The number one resource out there is Glassdoor. The way that Glassdoor works is that if you write a review on there, you're allowed to write one as an employee or an interviewee. So a lot of people who have gone through the interview process with a particular company will post information there. They’ll do their best to aggregate salary information and post it on Glassdoor.

I would also encourage you to apply for the position even if you’re not completely sure of the compensation. I use the term compensation instead of salary because it's important that people understand that compensation is made up of multiple factors. There’s the base salary, any kind of bonuses, 401(k) matching, and shares in a company are common components of a compensation package.

But if you’re interested in a position and well-qualified, I would encouraged you to apply for it. Never self-select out of something.  


I also had a Lieutenant Colonel in the Navy ask how you would advise military cybersecurity practitioners to better explore and prepare for transitioning to a second career in civilian cybersecurity.

In this information age, is that there’s just so much information out there and companies, as part of their marketing plan, put out a ton of great information. At Forcepoint, we have a couple PhD doctors that are on the speaking circuit and they write blogs. They write white papers and give seminars and speeches. So just going to our website, you'll see where we're going and what we're doing.

With some of our top competitors that are out there, you can go to each one of their company pages, you can go to LinkedIn, you can follow them. So you'll get information pushed to you about what we're doing in the cybersecurity industry. Right now, the trend is to converge platforms, meaning bringing everything together because security is is multifaceted. Most people think of cybersecurity in the most basic form like a basic firewall. But we're into next-generation firewalls,  we’re into dynamic data protection and how you learn about those things is finding the top companies in those spaces and following some of their key thought leaders.  more broad questions and the first thing


When should people leaving the military begin their job search?

I think there's two parts to it -- the right question should be ‘when should I begin my preparation for the search’ because most people think that the job search and the preparation are kind of one in the same

and they start them at the same time so the first thing is that you being your preparation a year to 18 months prior to getting out.  This means researching different industries, researching companies, looking

through jobs pages to find out what interests you and what's relatable to your field or interests.  Start getting interviewing books, start the basics of drafting a resume and start doing a skills inventory and a personal reflection. Start learning about yourself and the best things about yourself that help you relate to the industry you want to go into.

About five to six months before your transition, really starting looking at job postings. On LinkedIn and other job boards, you can set up alerts for jobs you would be interested in. You should start actually applying to jobs between 45 and 60 days before your transition.

I always advise people that if you’re submitting a job application more than three days after it has been posted online, please don’t put much energy behind it because people move very fast to apply to positions. With job alerts set up, you can apply to positions immediately as they are posted.

I do want to throw a caveat in there that if you're pursuing some federal job, there’s a whole different set of rules and application timeline which starts much earlier. You would also want to write your resume in a different way if applying for a government position.


Could you talk more about creating an effective resume?

Resumes really break down into two categories - there's a chronological resume - a time-based resume that jumps right into your last job, your last bit of employment with a job description, a few achievements under that, and then the job you had before that and the job you had before that. This style of resume would also possibly list certifications, qualifications, awards, civic groups, volunteer activities. But it really just shows an employer or recruiter what you've done from when you graduated high school or when you graduated college to the current day.

A functional resume is more about your skills and your competencies and your achievements and there really isn't a best one but this is how I think about them in the most basic terms. I've been out in the professional world for a number of decades and so at my level for the positions that I'm applying to, a chronological resume would be an eyesore for any recruiter or any firm.

But I can demonstrate my functional areas where I’ve had 10, 15, 20 years of experience. Things like project management, software programming, engineering, civil service, etc. can be put here. Then a list of achievements and then maybe on page two you're showing the different companies you have worked for and for how long.

If you're transitioning and you have five or less years of military service, a chronological resume is fine. A functional resume can be a little bit better when you get into keywords if you have technical skills

When recruiters are searching they're pulling up keywords whereas a chronological resume for most people getting out of the military based on demographics is absolutely fine.

Personally I have both and  it depends on what I'm going to apply to -- depending on the job,  one may be better than the other so I always have both ready.

The functional resume will help many people translate their military experience into civilian terms.

If you're doing logistics, if you're doing change management, if you're doing process improvement -- employers don't necessarily care where that experience came from -- it’s just that you have the experience.

The second step is to detail that experience - where did you get it, what size projects did you manage, etc.


Do cover letters matter any more?

There’s many schools of thought but I have been doing this for 20 years and I can't remember the last time I read a cover letter. The reason I don't is not that they're not useful. But the first thing that military people have to get right is making sure that your resume your application look good. Because if you can't do that, you won’t get far in the process. The very first thing that recruiters look at is your resume. If you're not qualified, then that cover letter is not going to make a difference.

Some companies  look at cover letters for writing style and personality but out of the hundreds of thousands of companies in the United States, it’s very few that do that. So if you don't do a cover

Letter, most recruiters aren't even going to look at it. They're going to go to look at your resume and if you look good, you're going forward.


How long does a recruiter look at a resume for?

Generally recruiters will spend the first two minutes scanning your resume looking for the things that jump out that match that job description. Then they will spend about two to three more minutes thinking of questions about your experience that they want to dig into.

I would say two minutes is the maximum time they take to determine does that resume fit the job. They can see it very quickly and if the answer is yes then they'll dig in to the rest of it so that they're well prepared to call you or email you and take the process further.

I think one of the nice things that amazes me is the amount of work you need to put into writing your first resume. But after that, you’re updating it but probably not spending hundreds of hours on it.

It really boils down to making your resume very readable and skimmable. An extra tip is that you should avoid putting an objective statement at the top of your resume. If that objective statement is the first thing a recruiter sees and it does not match the job to which you are applying, they will not go beyond that line. Recruiters assume that your objective is to get the job so there is no need to put a line on your resume about it.


What is the best way to get a job?

The number one way to get an interview and to get a job is an employee referral. So if you start building your LinkedIn connection network and you're connecting with veterans, that great. Getting to know people is the best way to move forward in an employment process.

When you set up alerts, you have to be ready to apply every day. Every morning and every evening, you need to spend 15-30 minutes checking out what your alerts look like for jobs that are open.  If so, apply immediately. You don't know when that ideal job will hit but if your have your resume ready to go, you can apply immediately.

It’s very much related to online dating. The employer has to trust you and you have to make a good first impression. You have to articulate what makes you special in a non-arrogant way and in a confident way. If you can do those things on a dating site or in your career search, things are going to work out for you.


Do you recommend using recruiting firms?

There’s  a number of firms out there and and I've worked with many of them. For veterans, it's a really good place to start but remember you're going to talk to some good military recruiting firms out there but make no mistake about it -- the only way that company makes money is with their clients paying the bills for finding the veterans. So their first interest in it - and it's not anything that should ever be looked at as bad -- their first obligation is to the client and filling the position.

So you’re probably going to get presented to a few good companies that you have to understand what their motivation is and that will help you approach the job search appropriately. If you want to work with one or two different military firms, it's perfectly fine-  remember this is about you owning it.

If a firm ever asks for exclusivity, I would run away. If they ask for money, definitely run away. What recruiting firms do should not cost you a thing.


It’s kind of like a real estate agent. Yes, they want you to find a house you love. But they also want to sell as many houses as possible. It’s not bad, it’s just something to be aware of. So relying on a recruiter to do your job for you won’t work well.  You already have to have an idea of what kind of job and industry you want to be in. That way you’ll be less swayed by an opportunity that isn’t the right fit.

I couldn't frame it any better than you just did. It’s very much like a real estate agent.  I tell veterans that are going to work with a recruiter to understand ahead of time what you’re interests are and what kind of a job you’re looking for.

I would also add that you’re likely not going to get your ideal job right out of the gate. If you're getting into a new industry, remember this is your next journey. Wherever you are in the military, you didn't start in that position -- you had to start somewhere and work your way up and that's the way it is in corporate

America. You know find a place, find an industry, find a company that's going to give you the experience or the growth opportunities.


I love that because I think it kind of takes the pressure off. You don’t have to get your dream job right of the bat. You can take time to get experience and test out different industries and job functions.

I’m the head of global operations for a cybersecurity company and a former Army officer. I got into consulting thinking it was sexy and cool. But when I was at that consulting firm, I had the opportunity to move into HR. I made the connection that selecting, training, and finding good leaders was what was driving me so our HR department got me into being a recruiter and the next thing you know I've led teams of 300 people and hired over 20,000 people.

When I left the military, recruiting wasn’t even on my radar. And yet, I couldn’t be happier with where I’ve landed. So it was just getting into a good company that really mattered. And then the next thing you know, I'm finding things that really drove me forward.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with listeners?

Make sure you spend time preparing before an interview. Have an answer prepared to explain what you did in the military and why you are leaving.  It’s not about how much you know about the job. It’s about how much you know about your self and articulating that clearly. What makes you great and different.

If you decide to get out, really start investing in yourself 12-18 months before your separation. Start looking at interviewing books, take personal inventories, know your accomplishments and prepare yourself for common interview questions.

Interviews are stressful but the candidates I’ve see do well are those that know what makes them successful. They really stand out as someone that is prepared for the discussion. Those are the people the companies are going to fight over.