Successfully Utilizing Military Recruiting Firms in Your Job Search

Recently, Janet Farley updated her book, “Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide: The Essential Job Search Handbook for Service Members,”  for a second edition.  As a part of that process, she interviewed Craig Griffin, SVP Operations, Bradley-Morris, Inc. (BMI), regarding what military job seekers should know about working with a military recruiting firm.

The Bradley-Morris, Inc. section is entitled "The Truth About Military Placement Firms" and appears on page 72. An excerpt from the original interview is below:


Janet: What are the benefits to using a military placement firm over conducting a self search?

Craig:  There are 3 key benefits to working with a military placement firm: preparation, exposure, and guidance.  


  • A military placement / recruiting firm should be able to fully prepare you for all aspects of the job search including: 
    • Professional resume preparation  
    • Resources to educate you on the different types of jobs available in Corporate America and the ability to match your skill set to the type of jobs that are a fit for you. 
    • Thorough coaching for the entire interview process 
    • Military placement firms have deep relationships with companies from all over the world. They are actively marketing the skills of military-experienced talent – your skills – to companies every day. The reputable firms are viewed as solution providers for clients who have the need and desire to acquire military talent.  
    • The top firms should function as a personal advocate for you. Candidates should not feel as if they are being left to reside in a database wondering if a real person has ever even seen their resume after submitting it through a web portal.
    • The sheer volume of opportunities that a leading military placement firm can expose a job seeker to will most likely dwarf what they could produce with only their own efforts. For example, BMI represents over 4,000 clients, and we have our finger on the pulse of their most current position needs, some that are not even being advertised to the public.


  • You should expect guidance through the entire process to help you accomplish the ultimate (and only) goal in the job search process: Finding the job that YOU want. Accepting an offer for a job you are not really excited about is a surefire way to ensure you'll be repeating the whole job search process earlier than you would wish. Any agency worth its salt will work until both parties are sure they've found a good fit.


Janet: What should a job seeker understand about the working relationship between him or herself and the placement firm? (i.e. expectations on either side) 


  • First, ensure you choose a qualified firm that meets the following criteria
    • Track record of success: The firm should have multiple years in business, thousands of successful placements, and testimonials from candidates like you.
    • Free: You should not have to pay anything for the job seeker service except potentially to travel to a hiring event or interview. 
    • No "handcuff" agreements: You should be free to pursue your job search however you choose, including working with more than one military recruiting firm, as well as supplementing this activity with leveraging your personal network.
  • You should only expect the agency representing you in your job search to be as committed to the goal as you are. The job search is intense, and requires a firm commitment from the job seeker to be responsive, whether it’s in the writing and revising of a resume or in the timely communication with both agency and client corporations. If you're not ready to commit the time necessary to complete the requirements and obligations of your job search, don't start.
  • Finally, understand the dynamic between the recruiting firm and their employer clients.
  • While the firm is motivated to place a candidate with the employer (the firm typically only gets paid when a successful match is made), don’t think that a reputable firm is looking to just put any warm body into a job. If the firm has any hope of winning repeat business, maintaining high client satisfaction and of advancing long-term client relationships, it is not in their interest to make bad matches.
  • Your salary is not being reduced in order for the employer to pay the recruiting firm. Understand that employers have different budgets for recruiting and for salaries.
    • The recruiting budget: Employers use this budget to attract job seekers through employment advertising and job boards, to pay for employee referral programs, and to pay recruiting firms.
    • The employee compensation budget: This includes salary, bonuses and benefits. Your salary is commensurate with others in your position, with your experience and in your city. Employees’ compensation is not determined by how they were sourced, no matter if they applied on the company Web site, had their resume on a job board, or if they were found via a civilian or military recruiting firm.

Janet: What about the concept of "handcuff" / exclusionary / exclusive agreements? Is it a good idea for a job seeker to agree to only work with one placement company at a time? Why or why not? 


  • As I mentioned previously, a handcuff or exclusive relationship with a military recruiting firm should be avoided at all costs. A handcuff agreement never benefits the job seeker. The only benefactor to an exclusive relationship is a placement agency that is not confident in either the number of opportunities they can present to you and / or the quality of opportunities that they can show you.
  • You want to give yourself as many options as possible.  Applying for jobs with only one company or working with only one transition resource at the exclusion of others is not in your best interests.  Take advantage of all of the free services that are available (military placement firms, military job boards, military job fairs, TAP/ACAP, etc) that you have time to invest in.

Janet: Is there anything someone transitioning from the military can or should do, prior to contacting a military placement firm to enhance their chances for a successful placement? 


  • I'm often questioned by military professionals who are several years out from their separation date about what 'the best thing they can do to prepare themselves' might be as they finish out their military commitment.  I've found the best answer is simply this:  Perform to your absolute highest level in your current job. Companies in Corporate America are always impressed by a history of excellent performance. And whether through your military evaluations or the references that you provide to prospective employers, that performance will follow you throughout your entire career.
  • Don’t be afraid to contact military firms far in advance of your transition (even if you haven’t positively decided to transition out yet). We recommend at least two years in advance for JMOs / SMOs and six months in advance for NCOs / Enlisted. Reputable firms will record your proposed transition date and if they have opportunities that match your background, will check back in with you to confirm your availability date and begin scheduling you for interviews.