Prioritizing FM Core Competencies for Transitioning Veterans (and Career Changers!)

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Prioritizing FM Core Competencies for Transitioning Veterans (and Career Changers!)

This is a cross-post from our FM community, Stratum, and co-written by Dr. Doug Aldrich, and IFMA Fellow, and Alex Cummings, former Marine and CEO of FlowPath. Enjoy.

When researching or transitioning into a new industry it is important to understand the core competencies required of common roles in the space. For Facility Management (FM), the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) defines 11 core competencies every FM needs with varying degrees of skills and knowledge. Simply put, not all organizations have the same requirements to cultivate all 11 core competencies, or the competency needs are fulfilled by organizational experts in departments other than FM. 

The challenge for transitioning veterans is knowing which ones are actually prioritized by employers for most entry-to-mid-level roles. Knowing this priority list will allow you to tailor your Skills, Knowledge, and Experience (SKEs) on resumes and tweak interview preparations to market yourself in a more targeted manner.  Stratum connected with Dr. Doug Aldrich, an IFMA Fellow and Army veteran, to provide some thoughts into how employers are likely prioritizing these competencies. 

DA: I did a lot of college interviewing for my company and really enjoyed meetings with non-traditional Vets.  It was easy to focus on what they could contribute in civilian jobs based on military ones.  Often, I had to draw those out since they didn’t always see them as strengths.

To assist in the process of connecting military experience to what employees are looking for, we organized the competencies into a list of what’s likely to be encountered in a job search by the average veteran with 4-6 years of military experience. Each competency is marked E-Essential (key area), I-Important (encountered), and O-Optional (less likely) for entry-to-mid-level roles, with some garnering a blend of categories.

Essential:

E Communications: plans, tools, deliveries, reports.  DA: Likely to be found with Vets and a critical SKE to highlight. Communication is the lubricant that makes FM function.

E Project Management: planning, executing, large vs small, people impact.  DA: Should be a key experience of candidates and a great skill to sell companies. To note, these [project management] positions don’t need years of FM experience, since good project managers are worth their weight in gold.

E Human Factors: work environment, practices, relationships, improvements.  DA: Often encountered in the military as one gains rank, this is especially relevant since leading teams is so common in FM.

Essential, but encountered less frequently, or are more role-specific:

E-I Operations & Maintenance: services, oversight, planning, results.  DA: Vets likely to have exposure if not experience; this applies to managing and doing.

E-I Finance & Business: budgets, monitoring results, contracts, procurement.  DA: Latter two could be good selling points in FM jobs; former ones may be spotty.

E-I Emergency Planning & Business Continuity: game plans, testing, recovery.  DA: First part is big with FM, but the second part depends on what operations are critical.

E-O Leadership & Strategy: management of staff, focus of organization, process development.  DA: First part should be a great fit for Vets to seek/emphasize, second less so.

Important, but less encountered:

I Quality: standards, metrics, measures, complaints, workflows/processes.  DA: They may not have much of Deming's principles, but workflows are a big deal for FM.

I Technology: Most organizations have their own systems, but a familiarity with CMMS platforms [like FlowPath], iPhone apps and the like are useful.  DA: User comfort with them is good, but this is mostly OJT.

Optional, less likely to be encountered:

I-O Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability: programs, reports, results.  DA: This is nice to be aware of and just about every role in the military is impacted by resource conservation.

O Real Estate & Property Management: asset oversight, budgeting, leasing.  DA: This is unlikely to be an immediate Vet role and not likely to be hired into initially. 

DA: Bottom line, SKEs involving communications, maintenance, teamwork, leadership, and project management are good selling points [to include in resumes and interviews].  Quality, technology, and operations are primarily learned on the job.  Emergency response will be a relevant concern.  The others are unlikely to be encountered much.

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