A military transition success story from G.W. (Gil) Williams of Intel
Veterans of the U.S. armed forces at Intel not only number more than 4,000—they are a diverse group of employees whose real-world experiences and skills make them an ideal fit for Intel’s culture of discipline, results orientation, and pride in their work.
8% of Intel U.S. based employees have self-identified as military veterans representing the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy. They all contribute to the organization in a variety of business groups that include manufacturing, sales, human resources, information technology, and many others.
We spoke to G.W. Williams, a Lead Talent Manager / Career Matchmaker for Intel, who has a longstanding relationship with the military. From a military family, G.W. was born on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, NM. He served in the Air Force for a number of years before transitioning to a civilian career in tech recruiting. G.W. offered five practical suggestions for transitioning military job seekers.
Demilitarize yourself. “Loosen up!” advises G.W. “Don’t be so stiff. Talk on the street. The military is more formal, and if you don’t civilianize yourself, you’ll sound like you’re trying to impress a commander.” Loosening up may take some practice. After years of interacting primarily with military colleagues, you may need to practice everyday conversation with civilian friends and family before you’re ready for a job interview. Get rid of the acronyms and jargon that civilians likely won’t understand. It might seem awkward at first, but gets easier with practice.
Civilianize your resume. While companies want to hire veterans, civilian recruiters most often don’t understand military acronyms, but simply spelling out those acronyms creates a wordy, boring document. Translate MOS codes and military-specific functions to skills most applicable to the jobs you want. For example, while part of G.W.’s role involved putting troops on planes to go into combat, he also performed many duties directly applicable to a civilian HR job.
Interview like a STAR. The four-part STAR (Situation, Timing, Action, and Result) technique is endorsed by many recruiters, including G.W., who facilitates seminars on it. By using STAR as a guide, you prepare short stories from your work experiences. These stories help recruiters understand what you actually did. STAR stories involve breaking specific examples into four parts:
Situation: Describe a specific situation, what was happening at the time.
Timing: What were the time constraints on the job?
Action: What did you actually do to handle that situation? Get very specific.
Result: What was the result?
By creating six to eight STAR stories, you will prepare yourself for almost any question a recruiter will ask – and make it much easier for a recruiter to translate your skills. Many savvy recruiters, including G.W., use this technique to guide interviews, so a candidate who has prepared stories will be at an advantage. “Learn to interview”, counsels G.W. “You have learned many skills in the military, but interviewing is likely to be new for you. Get some practice.”
Be open-minded in your search. The military offers opportunities for leadership at a very young age. It may come as a surprise to a veteran when that leadership experience does not immediately translate into a civilian management position. G.W. advises, “Swallow your pride. Be open to a position as an individual contributor. Learn the business that way.” G.W contends that the leadership ability honed in the military will cause capable veterans to rise, first as an informal leader, then through promotions to formal leadership responsibility. While this advice may be especially relevant to commissioned officers, it is good for any vet to keep in mind.
Take advantage of the fact that companies want to hire veterans. Read up on the characteristics companies prize in veterans, such as work ethic, organization, discipline and adaptability; and emphasize those abilities in your interviews. Use each interview as an opportunity to learn and adapt.
It’s no surprise that G.W. endorses Intel as a top company for transitioning military. “It’s a great company, with a culture that fits military values”, he explained. Intel actively supports veterans with a Veteran employee group. And on Veteran’s Day 2015 they broke the Guinness Book of World Records with the largest number of people doing push-ups in one place, at the same time, with donations going to veteran groups.
Joining the civilian workforce after serving in the military is a culture change. Veterans are not just leaving a job, they’re changing their lifestyle, and the change can be jarring. Joining a company like Intel that appreciates military culture and values can make that transition rewarding and satisfying. Learn more about Intel’s military-friendly company, awards and career opportunities.