Bre had a rough transition from the military, which is one of the many reasons why she enjoys her current role at Amgen, where she helps military veterans. In this interview we talk about how important it is for veterans to get face-to-face with a hiring manger, and how veterans excel in this environment. We talk about specific advice on how to improve your resume based on Bre’s seven years of experience in the talent acquisition space. We talk about a TON of resources - check out show notes - for services designed to help you. We talk about tips to improve your interviewing and much, much more.
Bre Cameron is the Veteran Employment Program Manager at Amgen, one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, where their mission is to to serve patients. She started out in the U.S. Navy as a Photographer’s Mate, and has been in talent acquisition for over 7 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Engaged Humanities and The Creative Life from Pacific Graduate Institute, and a Bachelors in Liberal Studies from Bowling Green State University.
Amgen is one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, where their mission is to to serve patients. Amgen is committed to unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from serious illnesses by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative human therapeutics. This approach begins by using tools like advanced human genetics to unravel the complexities of disease and understand the fundamentals of human biology.
Information about Bre & Amgen
https://military.microsoft.com/programs/mssa/ (free certification programs for veterans)
https://psycharmor.org/ - Good for any companies who are interested in starting their own Veteran Hiring Program
VetJobs.ccom - a lot of companies that have vowed to hire over 100,00 veterans by 2020. Most of the companies have someone like Bre who is there to help you in your application.
GIJobs - check out their list of Veteran friendly companies.
ACP & Veterti - Amgen participates in these. You can sign up for these mentorship programs. You can speak to other Veterans in the position you desire to coach you through the hiring process and whatever you need.
BTU #151: American Corporate Partners (Timothy Cochrane) - https://beyondtheuniform.org/blog/btu-151-american-corporate-partners-timothy-cochrane/
BTU #160 - Veterati (Daniel Rau) - https://beyondtheuniform.org/blog/btu-160-veterati-daniel-rau?rq=veterati
DOD Skill Bridge
Resources for women
women veterans alliance
Academy women career fair
LinkedIn - for Veteans - https://linkedinforgood.linkedin.com/programs/veterans
RallyPoint - Facebook for the military. People advertise events and jobs here as well
Joining me today from Findlay, Ohio is Bre Cameron. Bre is the Veteran Employment Program Manager at Amgen, one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, where their mission is to to serve patients. She started out in the U.S. Navy as a Photographer’s Mate, and has been in talent acquisition for over 7 years. She holds a Master’s degree in Engaged Humanities and The Creative Life from Pacifica Graduate Institute, and a Bachelors in Liberal Studies from Bowling Green State University.
How was your transition out of the military?
My transition was rough. I wasn't as prepared as I thought I was going to be. That’s one of the reasons I love my job now because I get to help other people manage those transitions in a more effective way than I did.
When I first got out, I decided to work part time jobs while using my GI Bill to finish up my Bachelor’s degree. When I finally finished that, I thought it would be easy for me to find a job. But it took about a year and a half before I found a role that I thought was a good fit for me. I think I wasn’t always communicating my military experience in an effective way. I was holding a few jobs at a time before I finally found a position that I was well suited for.
When I started in talent acquisition, I started at the bottom - I took an entry level role. I’ve learned so much in this role about what I should have been doing back during my transition. I’ve been able to pass that knowledge along to other transitioning veterans to hopefully make their transition a bit easier.
What does Amgen do?
My role with Amgen as a Veteran Employment Program manager is focused entirely on veterans and giving them a white glove treatment as they make their transition out of the military. I help these veterans re-write their resumes in a way that will better convey their skills and experience to civilian employers. I also reach out to companies on veterans’ behalf to try to make connections. I’ve found that when a hiring manager is able to speak to a veteran in person, the veteran is better able to break down their past experience in a way that makes sense to that hiring manager.
Do you see any common mistakes that veterans make during the hiring process?
First and foremost, when you are creating your resume, make sure you spell out all acronyms. For instance - SOCOM - make sure you spell that out because a civilian will not know or understand that.
A lot of candidates list every single command that they served at during their military service. But what hiring managers see is that you were jumping from job to job every 2-3 years. They don’t understand that all these different commands were still within one service branch. So I encourage consolidating all military experience under a heading like “Marine Corps Experience” or “Army Experience”. That will help hiring managers understand why you were moving around so often.
Also include your collateral duties in your resume if you can. For example, I was a Photographer’s Mate but during the time that I was in, I also ran the supply closet for four different shops. Those were skills I didn’t even really I should be including in my resume. So think about those collateral duties that you’re doing and how they can translate into the civilian world.
When you’re looking at a job description, make you meet the basic qualifications. When it comes to a preferred qualification, make sure you meet about 70% of those. And then tailor your resume toward those preferred qualifications.
Some companies will use software that will scan your resume for keywords. Even if a company doesn’t use that software, whoever is looking at your resume, is still going to look at how much it fits up to the job you’re applying for.
Any advice about how to find the right job for you?
If you’re trying to find a company that is veteran friendly, I would suggest looking at companies that have received designations as being military friendly. I recommend the website VetJobs which lists different companies that are known to be very military friendly. GI Jobs also has a list of veteran friendly companies. Anyone who is on that list probably has a veteran recruiter. Find that person on LinkedIn and reach out to them.
There are also a lot of mentorship programs out there - Veterati and American Corporate Partners. You can sign up and speak to people working in fields you are interested in going into and get advice for how you can best get a job in that field.
Why would Amgen be a good fit for a veteran?
Before I started here there was a veteran advocate recruiter. He is now my boss but at that time, he was the one advocating for veterans to be hired. He wanted to start a formal program and have a recruiter that was specifically focused on veterans. One of the reasons Amgen agreed to this was that the company was formerly run by Navy veterans. Even those the current CEO is not a veteran, he saw the value that veterans can bring to the workforce.
The culture here at Amgen is wonderful. I work with a lot of veterans here so there is a collaborative and supportive environment. It’s creative, open minded and laid back. The mission is to serve patients. Our CEO has been quoted as saying that it’s not a surprise that veterans are attracted to the medical field because of the sense of helping others. It gives you a sense of purpose.
What is the culture at Amgen like?
It has the best culture I’ve ever seen. We are pushed to be creative. I also love how collaborative it is. When they hire people, they are looking for creative individuals. Someone that will look at a problem in a different way.
The headquarters is peaceful and beautiful. We are encouraged to take care of our physical health as well. So there are different teams and gyms on campus that are offered to employees. Work/life balance is very important.
We also have a daycare on campus as well. One of my favorite stories is of a couple that worked here who were able to carpool in the morning, drop their daughter off at daycare and visit her throughout the day.
Is there any other advice you can provide for military members that are thinking about transitioning?
One thing I’ve come to realize is that we don’t really interview for positions in the military. So finding different ways to practice interviewing is extremely important. Some of the feedback I’ve received from hiring manager is that veterans tend to use “we” phrases a lot. That’s the mentality we’re used to in the military. But what civilian hiring managers are looking for is what you personally have contributed in different work environments. That was difficult for me to make that shift when I was interviewing. But finding comfort and being able to speak to those personal accomplishments is very important.
It’s also important in interviews to give very specific examples of times you have demonstrated qualities they are looking for.
Make sure you aren’t using “Sir” or “Ma’am” during interviews is also something you want to be aware of. In the civilian world, things are a little bit less formal. You should still be professional, you just don’t need to be quite as formal.
What does your day-to-day look like?
I absolutely love my job. I finally feel like I found my calling. I love being able to help veterans. I didn’t expect to be in talent acquisition for so long. I thought it would be a stepping stone. But it ended up being my calling.
Everyday is different and a new adventure. I speak to a lot of candidates. I send them different roles open within the company and help them with their resumes. A lot of it is guiding candidates in the right direction. I also do resume writing workshops for veterans and walk them through their resume and how they can craft their resume in a way that will be impactful.
Last week I was in Sacramento speaking with Veteran Service Office representatives for the state of California. So I was sharing ideas with them about veterans can more successfully transition.
Are there any other resources you recommend?
There are a lot of great programs out there for female veterans specifically.
LinkedIn is also amazing. There are great groups on LinkedIn specifically for veterans. You can also find people to reach out to and connect to on LinkedIn. You can include all kinds of great information on your profile that will allow you to stand out to recruiters.
Rally Point is another great tool. It’s like a Facebook specifically for military members.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Don’t give up. Transitioning can be a difficult process but don’t sell yourself short. When I was transitioning, I didn’t know how much is out there to help veterans through this process. There are people out there that really want to help you.