Darryl is a kindred spirit, and has an exceptional depth of knowledge about the Military Veteran transition process based on his work with VIQTORY. In this interview we talk about entitlement, which is the most dangerous challenge facing Veterans as they approach their transition to a civilian career. We talk about branding – why it’s so important, how to do it effectively, and why this may be a challenge to Veterans. We talk about expanding your job search, taking time to aim before firing on your first job search, how to network effectively and more.
Darryl Williams is the Manager of Strategic Partnerships at VIQTORY, which since 2001 has been connecting the military community to civilian opportunities. VIQTORY includes G.I. Jobs, Military Spouse, and Military Friendly. Darryl served for over 20 years in the US Army, most recently as a Regional Director of Recruiting Operations in Fort Worth, TX. He holds an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management, and a BBA from the Columbia Southern University.
Joining me today from Pittsburgh, PA is Darryl Williams. Darryl Williams is the Manager of Strategic Partnerships at VIQTORY, which since 2001 has been connecting the military community to civilian opportunities. VIQTORY includes G.I. Jobs, Military Spouse, and Military Friendly. Darryl served for over 20 years in the US Army, most recently as a Regional Director of Recruiting Operations in Fort Worth, TX. He holds an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management, and a BBA from the Columbia Southern University.
What was your transition out of the military like?
I knew a few years in advance that I was ready to leave the military. So I started that process about 36 months in advance. I knew that I wanted to be able to capitalize on the skills I had learned during my time in the military. I also knew that age plays a part as well and I wanted to be competitive when I left the military.
I was sitting in Fort Worth, TX during my transition and I was getting very frustrated. I felt that I was highly educated with 15 years of recruiting command experience. But I was humbled very quickly. There was a lot about networking, interview techniques, and job searches in the civilian sector that I just didn’t know. So as I was sitting in Fort Worth I had a peer that had already transitioned and he was working at VIQTORY. He introduced me to the company and the opportunity to serve in an organization that worked to help veterans was really appealing to me. My friend was able to get me an interview and now I’ve been here for about 20 months.
Can you share a little bit more with us about VIQTORY as an organization?
We are a service disabled veteran owned veteran business. The organization was founded by three Navy veterans. They were not happy with the resources that were offered to them as they transitioned out of the military. This organization started with GI Job magazine which is the flagship of VIQTORY.
As time progressed, we realized that print media wasn’t providing a real impactful result. So for the past year, we’ve been taking our clients and targeting veterans that could be a good fit for their organization. Ideally what we do is connect military communities with civilian organizations.
How can military members prepare for their transition?
You can’t feel entitled. A lot of service members think that they are entitled to a position in the civilian workforce. But nothing makes you any different from any other person that is seeking a job. You just chose a different path. If you take an attitude of not being entitled, you’re going to have a leg up.
You also need to understand the process. The job search process will test your patience and resilience. You will get more “NOs” than “YESs”. There a lot of people out there that can give you great advice about how to prepare for an interview. I also recommend getting on LinkedIn. There are many great resources there that can help you.
I’ve talked to many transitioning service members that are very set on getting a particular salary at their next job. But civilian companies have differing levels of familiarity with the military and they may or may not respect the rank you had in the military.
What advice can you give about having an effective LinkedIn profile?
The first thing is the photo you have on your profile. I see a lot of veterans with LinkedIn photos that are not conducive in the corporate environment. A lot of times people will use pictures of them in uniform. But LinkedIn just isn’t the right place for that. A picture with a suit and tie sends the message that you are truly ready to transition into the civilian sector.
There is also a place in your profile to write an introduction paragraph. This is a great place to talk about your experience as well as where you envision yourself in the future.
When you’re describing the particular roles that you’ve had, you need to talk about what you contributed to that position and organization.
Can you talk about how to figure out where you might be a good fit?
The relationship between corporate America and the veteran community can be like a dysfunctional marriage. Both need each other. There are great veterans and great organizations. The problem is that both groups don’t communicate very well with one another. Many veterans don’t know how to translate their skills and experience in a way that corporate America will understand. And then there are great organizations that don’t brand themselves very well. Veterans don’t understand what they do or why they would want to work for them. Brand awareness is huge. If I was to go back 20 months and do my transition all over again, I would have focused more on military friendly organizations.
Are there any resources you could recommend?
How can veterans find organizations they might be interested in?
You should think beyond the handful of major brands that you’re very familiar with. There are many great organizations out there that really want veteran talent. Open your mind to all kinds of companies. My company has 30 people but we are a great organization. When I was transitioning, I was very focused on huge organizations. But there are many advantages to working in a small organization, too.
I also recommend reaching out to veterans that work at organizations you’re interested in working for. They can help you get into that organization.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
As someone coming out of the military after more than 20 years. As became more humble and understand more about how the civilian sector hiring process work, I was able to become much more successful.