My Mom used to hang up on the military recruiters when they would call. I still remember the way the recruiter on the other end of the line would stammer when my mother would say "This is Lt Colonel Deborah Richardson, US Army, and you will not be calling my house again. Do you understand soldier?" Then, when I would ask why I couldn't join the Army too, she would tell me "you aren't a good fit."
My Mom, on the other hand, absolutely was. She was active duty Army for 25 years before she retired just a few years ago. In her 25 years of service, she completed airborne school, two master's degrees, two war colleges (tactical military training school for the civilians reading this), managed billions of dollars in the Army Reserve's budget and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. I'm confident I'm missing a litany of her achievements because my Mom was an all-star soldier and I know I went to more award ceremonies than I can even remember.
She accomplished all of this in complete chaos, by any civilian's standards. How many of you can say your job relocated your family and changed your job without any input from you or sent you thousands of miles away with an order, not a choice? My mother can and so can most career soldiers. As a single mother, she raised her kids in 13 different cities in just the 13 years I was in school, all while attending various schools to continue her education to become a better soldier and leader. She was deployed to the Gulf War just 8 weeks after my younger brother was born. She missed basketball games and graduations - all the things most of us take for granted as we count the weeks until the sports season is over and we're back on our couch at 6pm.
Now, picture all of that in a job description. I think it would sound a little like hell to most of us, right? She was right when she told me I wasn't a good fit; I, most certainly, am not. I would be miserable under these conditions - trying to accept the lack of control over my life and future all while trying to take care of my family I can't always be there for. Yet 21.8 million+ people have chosen that job. While all of their stories are different, their sacrifice is the same; they miss their people and they miss out on everyday memories that are only made once.
Considering all of this, I can't help but think we spend a lot of time talking about the human element when it comes to recruiting - how important it is to know a candidate's background or their job, whatever it takes to get their attention and interest in your job, right? We want to make sure they're a good "fit." We make this time investment for so many candidates yet when it comes to veterans, most of us draw a blank trying to translate military credentials into civilian terms. I watched it happen to my veteran friends who, coming out of the military, aren't getting calls back because some (idiot) recruiter can't understand how their skills translate into civilian jobs. So I wanted to do something about it. I do work at a blog whose goal is to make recruiters better at their jobs, after all.