Christina Dibble, 31, enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve at 17, serving six years. In 2004, she re-enlisted with the Army National Guard as a recruiter. A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Dibble is now a program manager for military talent acquisition for Sears Holdings Corp. of Hoffman Estates, Illinois. In that role, she is the first point of contact for many military veterans looking for work at Sears.
CRAINS: What has it meant to you to be a veteran and how does that experience impact your work as a recruiter for Sears?
DIBBLE: I was the first in my family to enlist in the military. When I was a recruiter, I enlisted my little sister. Now, it's a big part of our lives. (Dibble's husband, Michael Dibble, is in the Army National Guard and is a Palatine police officer.) It's part of the fabric of who we are. In 1998, it was peace time, and I just joined to get out of my parents' house. But when I came home from the initial training, I had two things I didn't have before: motivation and money. It drove me to do so many things with my life, including going to college and getting my bachelor's degree at Northern Illinois University.
Do veteran candidates immediately stand out to you? Do you quickly see what they can bring to the job, something that might not be as obvious to other recruiters?
I try to be an advocate for veteran job-seekers. I do see some who are well-prepared and polished and amazing candidates transitioning out of the military. At the same time, I see candidates who can use additional coaching. But we don't want to abandon this community or find them unemployable, so I help them translate their résumés. We also provide military résumé workshops for recruiters so that when they see that résumé, they can understand what that military skill set means.
What do you say to those who don't present themselves well?
As someone who has been in the military, I have a severe empathy for these transitioning veterans. I was there. I remember botching my first interview when I got out of the military, and I had this horrible résumé that made no sense to a civilian recruiter. I tell them that this company understands that military candidates have a unique background. You may not have worked at a retailer, but if you've moved a platoon through Afghanistan, then you can certainly manage the stress that comes with working at a retailer.