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Cameron-Brooks August 2010 Career Conference

The Cameron-Brooks team and the August Career Conference candidates have just completed their work in Charlotte, NC.  As we move into the follow-up interview phase of this process, we are excited about the number of pursuits achieved by the candidates – over 60% of interviews resulted in a successful connection.  We had 14 support team members attend the Conference with the candidates to help them gather information and develop their connecting points.  As we prepared for the Conference, it was exciting to see the level of demand for C-B development candidates.  This translated into a high number of interviews for each candidate and a great level of energy at the Conference as the candidates stayed busy with interviews on Monday and Tuesday.

The need for proactive leadership in Corporate America helped drive the number and extent of career opportunities at the August Conference.  It was exciting to see how many industries came to the Conference seeking development candidates to help them move forward with key initiatives.  This meant that candidates were able to see how their backgrounds related to a wide variety of opportunities and across industries including: technology, mining, alternative energy, consumer products, consulting, medical devices, telecommunications, industrial products along with others.  We heard from a number of business leaders who, as they developed plans for the path forward, knew they wanted to hire junior military officers as key drivers for their business.  They like the fact that Cameron-Brooks candidates have been proactive about managing their careers and have taken the time to identify their leadership skills and look ahead to applying them in a development career.

For our candidates, these opportunities helped get them excited about the roles they could take on in their business career.  They found that the job descriptions helped them see how they would be drivers of change and have the ability to think “outside the box” to find solutions.  Some candidates were surprised at how positive our client companies were about the growth opportunities in this economy.  A key learning point for many of the junior military officers at the C-B conference was that great businesses look for leaders to create growth, not react to market conditions.  The candidates had an opportunity to see the benefit of all their effort to be the “go-to” person throughout their time in the military.  The effort that they had put in to “break out” among their peers was exactly the type of break out effort that our client companies were seeking in order to drive success in their business.

Joel has put a lot of work into a series of blog posts to aid in visualizing your success in business and in the interviewing process.  I hope you have taken, or will take the time to review prior blog posts  he has written to help you to picture yourself leading proactively in business.  As you gather information about a development career, you will gain confidence in being that go-to person for an organization.  We had 23 alumni who felt so strongly about their fit for Corporate America, that they came back to hire Cameron-Brooks candidates from the August Conference for their company.  There is no question that if you are a successful officer in the military, then you’ve been effective at being a proactive leader.  We look forward to helping you understand how you can take that ability to a business career.

I asked many of the candidates from the Conference to record their thoughts and recommendations to help you with your success.  I recorded these Tuesday night after completion of their second full day of interviews and, as you’ll see, they are tired but excited.  I hope you get value from their ideas and recommendations and will take the opportunity to use this resource to help with your decisions and planning.  We continue to look for ways to provide you with as much information as possible to help with your career.  Our recruiters will be out on the road, and we’ll be maximizing our use of time on the phone and sharing information on the internet to help you.  Please let us know the best way to get you the information you need.  Thank you for your service and for your continued relationship with Cameron-Brooks.

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Cameron-Brooks June 2010 Career Conference

At our June 2010 Career Conference in Austin, Texas,  Cameron-Brooks candidates converted over 60% of their initial interviews to pursuits and every candidate came away with multiple opportunities for the follow-up process.  13 support team members came with the candidates and contributed significantly to their success.  We had a lot of opportunities resulting in one of the highest average number of interviews we’ve seen in several years: 13 per candidate!

It became clear to our team, as we were adding companies to attend the Conference, that there continues to be a significant positive shift in Corporate America.  The number of opportunities for well-prepared Junior Military Officers is growing rapidly. Among the 78 corporate recruiters who conducted interviews at the Conference, 24 were Cameron-Brooks alumni who told us how exciting it is to be working through the turnaround of the U.S. economy.  Senior executives came to Austin to recruit development talent into their organizations because of how important it is for them to find the right leaders.  They do not delegate this responsibility. Hiring the best talent is key to their growth.

It was great to see the energetic response of our June candidates to the company opportunities.  One recruiter commented that enthusiasm is a critical part of what he looks for in a development candidate because it propels that person forward in their career.  This recruiter said “yes” to candidates who showed the enthusiasm to make it through the next 2 promotions and establish their career momentum in the right direction – UP!  Great companies hire people into leadership roles with the expectation of promoting those new leaders.  Candidates want to see company recruiters who are excited about the products and services their company provides.  Recruiters want to see candidates who are excited about using their skills and experiences to advance their careers within their companies.

Enthusiasm is more than just an attitude; it is part of a leader’s commitment to success.  In his book, Pyramid of Success, John Wooden, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, described the pyramid, “One cornerstone is industriousness and the other one is enthusiasm.”  John Wooden passed away in June of this year at the age of 99 after a storied career as a coach and as a leader.  His ideas are founded on a history of successful coaching and mentoring leaders.  Your accomplishments as a military officer can be a great indicator of your industriousness. It is up to you to communicate and demonstrate your enthusiasm for leadership so that recruiters know you are excited about success.

We are proud to be part of the careers of the junior military officers in our program who partner with us, both at the Conference and as alumni.  For our June candidates, we know the hurdles they had to clear along the way in order to achieve  the success they had at Conference.  The average amount of time these candidates spent in the Development and Preparation Program © (DPP©) was 10 months.   Think back 10 months to August 2009, and consider the outlook on the economy.  They faced questions about their decisions from people who were not as confident about stepping into a development career.  We know this because we walked alongside them, helping them understand that their success is founded in their industriousness and their enthusiasm.  The June Conference candidates were able to look ahead, maintain their confidence, and focus on executing a successful plan.  Their determination, foresight and preparation paid off with the great opportunities and results that they achieved.  We hope you get the chance to read about their enthusiasm for their careers on the candidate forums over the next several weeks.

As Corporate America continues to charge ahead, we are seeing an increased focus on meeting the challenges of filling the “Leadership Gap” caused by the retirement of baby boomers.  We shared information with you earlier this year about one of our alumni making the cover of FORTUNE magazine.  There is continued interest in the success of junior military officers as development candidates in business in other areas.  A recent NPR interview also included René Brooks in “Corporations Increasingly Turn to Veterans” and you can connect to the transcript here http://tiny.cc/ripsv.   We look forward to our continued work together as your career partner.

Scott

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Describing Your Ideal Job in an Interview

The reason it can be so challenging to describe an ideal job in an interview is because, for most people, there are different sides to you that want different things.  The personal side wants high pay and rewarding work,  the family side would like time off and good benefits, while the career side wants fast promotion and lots of opportunity.  There are times in any career when these “ideals” will conflict. So, which side of you should speak up?  In a development career, the answer is very clear – the leadership side.

Every recruiter knows that you have personal goals and desires.  They understand your life is not likely dedicated 100% to your work.  When they ask you about an ideal job, they are listening for what part of you speaks up.  Since the interview is your opportunity to prove that you have a strong desire to be a business leader, their expectation is that you are prepared to discuss your goals and interests from that point of view.  If you address it from another point of view, in other words if you focus on non-leadership priorities, you are making it clear that you are not there to prove your leadership and they have to interpret that as a lack of interest and commitment.  Joel Junker blogged on this point in December 2009 – http://wp.me/psTE6-aD.

What is the business leadership side of an ideal job?  It is really up to you to come up with how you would like to use your leadership within an organization.  Taking a look at the description of Level 5 leaders that Jim Collins and his team evaluated in Good To Great may help you come up with some of the leadership interests that you share with those top performers.  Think about how the leaders who helped those companies become great focused their time, and how they would answer a question about an ideal job.  Internalize those ideas and use them to develop a description of your own  ideal job.

Sometimes I am asked if this means you should tell recruiters what they want to hear.  I don’t feel that what I am describing is the same as just saying what you think will get you hired.  The best example I can give of what I am talking about, relates to going home for the holidays.  In the event you are able to get time off for a holiday and go home, both family and friends are going to be interested in what you’ve been doing.  You would likely tell your family one part of what you’ve done, but  tell your friends about different experiences you’ve had.  If you mixed up the two, you would probably bore your friends and shock your parents.  Both discussions are the truth, but you are adapting them to your audience.  This is exactly what recruiters are looking for.  They want to hear from the side of you that wants business leadership.

This answer won’t get you hired.  There is no description of an ideal job that will instantly convince  recruiters you are a fit for their needs.  Your answer will show them whether you want leadership or whether other priorities come first.  With that in mind, keep your answer efficient, effective and let the recruiters learn something about you; then stop and let them get on to other connecting points.

Scott LePage

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Cameron-Brooks April 2010 Career Conference

As our Cameron-Brooks team heads back from Charlotte, NC to our office in Texas, I am excited about sharing the results of the April 2010 Career Conference with you.  The April Conference continued the trend of increasing numbers of career opportunities, and the Cameron-Brooks candidates benefitted with the average number of interviews reaching the highest point we’ve seen in 2 years.  Additionally, all of the junior military officer candidates achieved success with companies pursuing them after the Conference.   

As we travel around the U.S. and visit military concentration areas overseas, we continue to meet military officers who are not aware of the strong market for development candidates through the Cameron-Brooks program.  Our client companies are coming to us with more and more openings and are looking for top-caliber leadership talent to fill these positions.  I’d like to share with you one of the strengths on which  we have relied that has enabled us to find development career opportunities through the recession, and is driving our strong growth in career opportunities as U.S. economic news turns toward the positive – the C-B alumni network.

With decades of experience in helping great officers find powerful careers in Corporate America, our impact on businesses goes very deep.  We have literally thousands of alumni working in key positions throughout the business world.  Their track record of success and commitment to their companies has highlighted them as go-to leaders, and many are at a point where they are driving strategic initiatives for their organization.  For senior leaders in business, the retirement wave of baby-boomers and the subsequent leadership gap isn’t just a socio-economic statistic, it is a business reality.  They see the challenges and opportunities ahead for their business and know that they need to get the best leaders on board now to help them grow into the future.  Having experienced the opportunity to come through the Cameron-Brooks program first-hand along with the continuing mentoring  they receive throughout their career, our alumni are powerful advocates for you in Corporate America.  When they think about bringing in the next generation of leaders, they naturally think of Cameron-Brooks.

Here is how our extensive alumni network benefits Cameron-Brooks candidates:

  • Learning Resource – Many of our alumni have volunteered to talk to you about their careers.  We have alumni from a broad range of academic and military backgrounds working across a wide variety of career fields.  They can help you gather information to better understand careers in Corporate America or even help you determine if stepping into a development career is right for you.
  • Opportunities – We have alumni recruiting at every Conference.  At our April 2010 Conference, 21 of the companies that were recruiting were there because of our alumni.  This is an essential element of our success in finding opportunities for our candidates.  Our alumni are able to identify career positions that are a great fit for the unique performance, abilities and preparation of Cameron-Brooks candidates, and bring those to a Conference.  If you are working with Cameron-Brooks, you’ll see more opportunities thanks to our alumni.
  • Advocates – In addition to finding specific opportunities and bringing them to a Career Conference, our alumni continue to be advocates for your talent and potential.  Recently, Fortune wrote an article on the success of Junior Military Officers in Corporate America.  We were not surprised to see our alumni contributing to the article to ensure that businesses are aware of what you offer.

René Brooks, who works closely with our client companies, gets calls regularly from alumni who are working to bring opportunities back to Cameron-Brooks.  At the April Conference, we had an alumnus who has been working in Corporate America for 35 years and who was back recruiting.  We had another alumna with 18 years of experience who was recruiting for multiple opportunities.  Many of the alumni who were recruiting at the Conference have already achieved promotions, and several of them have had multiple promotions.  They continue to tell us that they got started down the right path using the Cameron-Brooks process.  We find that the best way we can help our alumni is to help them fill the positions they vacate due to promotions, or the opportunities that have been created as they have grown their business.

Much of our alumni work goes on behind the scenes, so we wanted to take this time to help our candidates understand what a powerful force it is for them.  Our close relationship and lifelong partnership with each alumnus and our years of experience, have allowed us to bring great companies and development positions despite the high unemployment rate and a challenging, though improving, economy.  Want to know more about our alumni program?  Go to http://tiny.cc/sx27g

Scott

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Air Force Expanded Force Management Program

Recently, the Air Force expanded their efforts to meet lower targeted manning levels through the Force Management Program (aka Force Shaping).  High levels of retention have led to challenges in meeting career field, skill and overall personnel strength goals.  If you are currently an officer in the Air Force and are exploring career options because of the recent changes, I highly recommend getting information before you make your decision about whether to separate under this new program.  Here are some key points to consider:

  • The Air Force needs to reduce their officers by over 2000 personnel (almost 900 in the year groups from 1998-2004).  They are using Voluntary Separation with Pay (VSP), reduced accessions (promotions) and other incentive programs to allow officers who wish to separate the chance to do so.  It appears that if targeted numbers are not met, a Reduction In Force (RIF) board will convene this September.  If you are thinking about separating under VSP, the $ incentive will be greater if you volunteer than if you are separated through the RIF.  This information is based on preliminary data available and should be verified by each person reviewing these programs.  It is highly advisable to check the AF website for details at: http://tiny.cc/fh995
  • If you decide to separate under this new Force Management program, the target separation date is the end of the calendar year (12/31/2010).  Before you set your timing, make sure you have a game plan.  If you are wondering about terminal leave, scheduling for a conference, how to leave time for follow-up interviews, or even using your final military move, please give us a call and we can help you plan out your timing.
  • Getting paid to leave the Air Force is only a good thing if you have a career to step into after you leave.  You will find that a VSP check can get used up quickly if you haven’t set yourself up for success.  We are seeing increased numbers of opportunities for our candidates, and our client companies expect to have strong development career opportunity needs in 2010.  Let us help you determine your ability to be successful in achieving a career as a business leader directly out of the service, so that you can put your VSP check in the bank.

Keep in mind that making a decision to stay in or get out is just the first step.  If you decide to get out, the planning and preparation you put into your career transition will be a major factor in determining how successful you are.  Think this through, set a timeline for your plan and make sure you know where you are headed after the service.

Scott

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Cameron-Brooks January 2010 Career Conference

The January 2010 candidates have started off the New Year very successfully.  We had over 440 interviews for the 41 candidates, and the highest number of average interviews per candidate since 2008.  Our 9 support team members played a key role in helping these candidates convert over 60% of their interviews to company pursuits.  For all of you who have already scheduled a Conference for 2010 or are considering making the transition soon, there is a reason to be excited about seeing such a strong start to the year.  Every one of the January candidates came out of the Conference with multiple companies interested in them and is headed in to the follow-up process to earn offers.

We’d like to take the opportunity to compliment the 41 officers who attended the January Conference.  They prepared for an average of 10 months prior to showing up in Austin, TX for interviews, and during much of that time they had plenty of reason for doubt.  Many of them began their preparation for the transition at one of the most challenging times for our U.S. economy.  Like you, many of the January candidates had to overcome questions and concerns from those around them in order to focus on preparing for their transition.  The strong results of these candidates at the January Conference show how that confidence paid off.

Our client companies were impressed with what they heard from the C-B candidates and were excited to have the opportunity to interview top quality officers.  These companies have been working hard to fight decreased demand and increased challenges of the recession.  Their performance contributed to the turnaround that was highlighted by the 5.7% year over year growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the 4th quarter of 2009.  We heard from a number of companies that they are looking ahead and want to build the “bench strength” of their management teams to sustain the recovery and growth they have fought hard to achieve.  Several noted that, even though high unemployment means there are a lot of potential hires available, they find their best quality leaders at the Cameron-Brooks conferences.

 While the Development and Preparation Program (DPP©) has several aspects that helped the January candidates prepare successfully, we’d like to note two areas highlighted by company recruiters.  Many of the recruiters appreciated that Cameron-Brooks candidates had taken time to read business books.  This allowed for a discussion of business topics and gave the recruiter a chance to hear the candidates’ ability to relate their experience to business processes and initiatives.  Concepts like Six Sigma, Lean and Kaizen are being used to drive efficiencies, while companies have ramped up their production, supply chain, and sales areas, to increase profitability.  The companies at the January conference were impressed with candidates who had sought out opportunities to apply similar concepts in the military and had thought about how they could contribute to these areas in the for-profit environment.

 A second point that a number of recruiters noted was how much easier it was to pursue candidates who took time to build rapport.  Each organization has a culture and environment that the recruiter knows they have a responsibility to support.  Candidates who were able to open up during the 45 minute interview, and had the confidence to show their personality, allowed the recruiter to see how they would fit with the company.  Simple steps like expressing excitement when describing a job well done, or conveying the frustration with a challenging problem, were key to helping recruiters identify candidates who achieved success due to their internal drive versus those who were thrust into success by external forces.  Industry-leading companies want self-motivated, results-oriented leaders.  The candidates who made it clear to recruiters why they worked hard at their career, ended up making stronger connecting points.

Reviewing our blog postings about each Conference over the past year, you will find they share a positive outlook on career opportunities for Cameron-Brooks candidates.  Through the recession and challenging times in the U.S. economy, there are times where officers with whom we talk wonder why we maintain an upbeat stance.  Joel Junker commented on this back in May of 2009 in his blog post “Want bad news? Look elsewhere” (http://blog.cameron-brooks.com/2009/05/19/want-bad-news-look-elsewhere/).  In addition to his points about looking at challenges as opportunities and the role of leaders in maintaining a positive outlook through tough times, our January candidates showed one more reason why Cameron-Brooks continues to have a positive outlook.  We get to combine top performers with our proven DPP© and put them in front of some of the best companies in Corporate America.  Great people, a great process, and the right level of effort, get positive results.  When it comes to your transition out of the military, you’d expect nothing less.  We look forward to seeing you as we travel around the world to help you with your career.

Scott LePage

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The Value of Certifications in an Interview

While on the road recruiting, I am frequently questioned and asked to provide guidance about the value officers get from achieving a certification prior to stepping out of the military.  The answer is: “It depends.”  For an officer considering a specialized career (think IT programmer, public accounting, research and development, etc.), the certification can be a good credential to signify your level of skill in one area.  There are many professional organizations that design tests and certification levels that will help you signify your level of expertise.  For an officer considering a development career where you will step out of the military into a leadership position in business, getting a certification on its own is generally not enough to prove your abilities.  Surprised?  Let me help you understand why.

Development candidates are hired by businesses based on their leadership experience.  Our client companies recognize that the leadership experience achieved by junior military officers (JMOs) in the first part of their career is well above that of any other career path available to the rest of that age group.  When a business is hiring a JMO based on experience, they will interview that officer to determine the accomplishments he or she has achieved during his or her service time.  While academic credentials as well as other factors used to evaluate students still play a part in evaluating a potential experienced hire, the accomplishments of a leader who has overcome real challenges and achieved real results is a much better indicator of future leadership performance.

For Cameron-Brooks candidates, our client companies are looking at you as an experienced hire for a development career.  It is your top performance in the military that makes you a fit to take on the challenges and opportunities where our client companies are looking for leaders to step in and make an impact.  In that environment, a certification that details your experience with one skill set is not enough for them to determine whether you can truly use that ability to make an impact.  Our companies would want to know how you went on to use the knowledge you earned and the abilities you developed during the certification process to contribute to a major accomplishment.  A company that is looking at you as a leader will want to know how you have “operationalized” your certification.  That is proof that you not only have the knowledge but you also know how to use it.

The information above may also help you identify the right time period to focus on certifications and building new skills.  Trying to squeeze in exams and credentials just prior to a separation date will not give you time to put your new abilities to work.  By developing your career goals early and identifying certifications and credentials that you can use to develop key skill sets, you will have the opportunity to put those abilities to work.  Your goal should be to use them to have break out performance in the military to create career potential for yourself in and out of the military.  The impact you’ve made with the abilities becomes the career “enhancer” and allows you to connect your success as a JMO with your goals for success in the rest of your career.  Certifications can be a great way to build your skills.  Using those skills to make an impact is how you increase your success in bringing those abilities to Corporate America.

Scott LePage

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