. . .and what it can teach you about being the best possible candidate.

Serving in the military gives people some of the best training for life they could find anywhere, particularly in areas of leadership, decision making, confidence, needs and risk assessment, and perhaps the most important—execution. For 12 years I served as a U.S. Marine, and every day on the job as a recruiter for People Suite I apply what I learned there.

Specifically, the acronym SMEAC. You may have never heard of it, but if you’ve seen anyone execute a task with precision, efficiency, and effectiveness, they’re probably putting its principles into practice.

  1. Situation. In military terms, this means a thorough assessment of the challenge in front of me. The key word here is thorough. So, when I receive or create a job order, I want to be sure all bases are covered. This includes not only the hard skills, which pertain to the job description, but also the softer skills like cooperation or problem solving. It also means a deep dive into my client’s culture so I understand their perspective and can match them with a candidate who shares their values and goals.

Candidate Takeaway: What is your situation? What’s the job you want? What is the job you’ll take? What are your deciding factors? What is the timeline? All these contributr to your situation and you should think carefully about these and many more.

  1. This is about what you need to do to achieve your goal. For a recruiter, I ask myself: What will I do to locate the best three candidates for the job? How will I locate the thought leaders? Where are they likely to be working now? When do I begin? What are my milestones? How can I set priorities straight? I always lay out a plan, with milestones and goals.

Candidate Takeaway: Based on the situation, what is your mission? Any job opportunity deserves some preparation and forethought. Consider your schedule, down time between interviews, and your short- and long-term goals. Get strategic and curious.

  1. Its go time for your tactics. At People Suite, we see this as a blend between science and art. Certainly, there are the usual places to begin a search—LinkedIn, phone calls, and reviews of resumes—but there’s often quite a bit of art to it as well. Perhaps a deep dive into academic papers, LexisNexis, and straight-up word of mouth.

Candidate Takeaway: Seek the jobs that fit your mission and situation. Overhaul or update your resume, research your interviewer and the company, review your LinkedIn profile, and consider a blog or two to help establish yourself as an expert in your industry. Review your digital footprint with more depth. Did you know that most Americans have more 3,000 to 5,000 data points in the public space? Yikes. If a recruiter sees something that gives them pause, you may lose out on an opportunity. Read Bob Funderburk’s blog “Four Critical Components of an Interview” and put them into practice. If you’re a client seeking interview tips, find them here.

  1. This about the details. Have I contacted all the necessary colleagues? Does the candidate know where they’re going?  How can I follow up better? Have I anticipated every client concern? Have I covered every base? For me, this also means background checks, onboarding procedures, training, and final paperwork.

Candidate Takeaway: Impeccable is a word that comes to mind. Typos and disorganization within any communication is a big no-no. Complete every form. Follow up with every contact. Submit every form to the correct person–double check yourself. Send thank you notes even if you think you don’t need to. Have a record of it all.

  1. Command & Signal. This is about who’s in control of each stage of this process and who will follow up—or accountability. You can have the best laid plans but if you don’t assign tasks, you’ll fail. In recruiting, this means that while I’m leading the process, I’m also delegating critical, smaller tasks to other people. I leverage my team for both help and accountability.

Candidate Takeaway: When you’re on the job hunt, it’s critical to engage a support system. Others can help or just keep you accountable. Have your aunt proof your resume. Ask a friend to call the morning of the interview lest your alarm doesn’t go off. Establish a true partnership with your recruiter and ensure your understand roles and responsibilities.

And it certainly wouldn’t hurt to throw in a few “Yes, Sirs” and “No, Ma’ams” along the way. Semper fi.

~Erik Lewis spent 12 years as a Marine before joining the corporate recruiting industry in 2010 and PeopleSuite in 2016. When not helping good people get good jobs, he enjoys Duke basketball, global travel and hanging out with his two awesome daughters.

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