As a recruiter for Lucas Group’s acclaimed Military Transition Recruiting Division, one of my most important responsibilities is to serve as a conversational English bridge between those transitioning out of military service and employers interested in hiring them. To strengthen that bridge, I’m writing a series of blogs to help civilian employers understand military terminology.  To get stared, today’s blog covers one of the most basic—and least understood– features of Military life:  Military Rank.

You may know that a general is at the top of the military food chain and you’ve probably heard of colonels and sergeants as well.  But did you know that:

  • A Chief Petty Officer in the Navy/Coast Guard is equal in rank to a Sergeant First Class in the Army and a Gunnery Sergeant in the Marines?
  • A Specialist in the Army is equal to a Petty Officer Third Class in the Navy/Coast Guard, a Senior Airman or Senior Sergeant in the Air Force, and a Corporal in the Marines?
  • A Lieutenant General in the Army, Air Force and Marines is equal in rank to a Vice Admiral in the Navy/Coast Guard?

Perhaps even more importantly from a recruiting/hiring perspective, do you know which of these ranks are junior military, non-commissioned, or senior military officers?  If you don’t and you’re hiring those transitioning from the military, you’re in trouble.  While not a sole determinant for hiring, rank matters.  It reflects the qualifications and experience you seek to staff your company with the right talent.

At Lucas Group, we group candidates into the three main categories mentioned above:

These three categories are the only people we place because they emerge from the military prepared to work in the civilian workforce in a professional or technical capacity.

What types of jobs do we consider appropriate for each rank?  While there never is—and never should be—a one-size-fits-all approach to career placement, here are a few suggestions based upon more than 40 years of placing transitioning military professionals into civilian employment.

Junior Military Officers (JMOs)

All JMOs have college degrees (both technical and non-technical) and we find our candidates to be mature and energetic young leaders.  They are junior in military title only.  To me, they’re mature beyond their years, as evidenced by their extensive supervisory experience and exposure to in-depth leadership training.  We consistently place JMOs in a wide variety of fields, including engineering, maintenance, production, distribution, sales, and general management.

Non-Commissioned Officers—Technical

Non-Commissioned Officers and Technicians are skilled leaders that possess hands-on capability with high-potential futures.  They have many of the same qualities as their JMO colleagues—strong work ethics, excellent people skills, integrity, and team-building abilities. Additionally, they have high-level technical training in areas such as electronics, machining, control systems, communications, and computer technology.  With diverse skill sets, they’re strong candidates for manufacturing organizations, field engineering forces, technical service groups, research facilities, and training departments.

Senior Military Officers

Senior Military Officer candidates are field-grade officers in the military who are transitioning from active duty service. These candidates have substantial leadership experience in mid-to-senior-level military posts and a proven record of success in demanding environments.  We place senior officers as mid-level executives in areas such as business development, consulting, production, program management, and engineering.

Just as any civilian recruiter has come to understand the Millennial distinction between “next level” and “on fleek”, so too should you appreciate the differences between a First Sergeant and a Colonel.  To succeed at hiring from the military, start with understanding their (our) ranking language.

I hope that this first installment of my blog series was valuable in understanding military hierarchy and training.

Stay tuned for more…

In my next installment, we’ll cover job assignments in the military or “how to understand why a fire control technician has nothing to do with a heavy hose and a red truck”.