Apr 26 2019

Building a Mission-Driven Tool / How Military Skills Translate to Facebook Careers

By Meta Careers
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“You join as a choice. You stay because you believe in it.”
George C., an operations program manager, is no stranger to mission-driven work. As he makes his way across Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, George leaves a lasting impression. Standing well over six feet tall with a thick auburn beard growing far beyond his chin, George keeps things casual in a simple uniform of dark jeans and informal shirts.
But it wasn’t all that long ago that George’s daily uniform was exactly that: a uniform. Boots, fatigues, a GI Issue backpack, and a helmet were part of everyday life when George served as an Army Infantryman.
After graduating from West Point, George was in the Army for five years, including almost a year overseas in Afghanistan. George eventually decided to switch gears, so he left the service, got his MBA, and worked as a legislative director at a veteran-run non-profit that worked to build a memorial for the post-9/11 conflict in Washington, D.C.
“After that, I applied for a lot of jobs out in the Bay Area,” George says. “But tech companies weren’t on my radar.” Not having come from a traditional technical background, George assumed that there wasn’t a place for someone like him in Silicon Valley.
Around that same time, an old classmate from West Point who now worked at Facebook announced that his team was hiring. He and George belonged to the same West Point alumni group on Facebook, and the job posting intrigued him. George reached out, and within a couple of weeks, he was interviewing for the job he now holds.
George C., Operations Program Manager at Facebook
“Veterans can do very well here,” George says. “I think a lot of the non-technical skills you learn in the military are actually very valuable. Simple things like knowing how to run a meeting, putting together a compelling presentation, things you take for granted that you’re constantly doing in the military. Get a group of smart, mission-driven people together helping to drive decision-making—that’s where vets really find their place here.”
Although he is confident in his current position, that feeling of comfort and belonging didn’t come immediately to George.
“Very early on,” he explains, “I was convinced I wasn’t smart enough to be here. At New Hire Orientation, you meet the people to your left and right, and that was intimidating in a different way than anything I’d seen in the military. There were also cultural changes that I had to get used to.” He cites the daily wearing of casual civilian clothes as a shift that took some adjustment.
Fortunately for George and the many other vets that work at Facebook, there is a veteran mentorship program that he describes as robust and welcoming. “Very early on,” George says, “my mentor helped me with the more tactical things, explained the performance review process to me, things you don’t necessarily get from reading a wiki.”
This notion of helping fellow vets see a place for themselves at Facebook was something that resonated deeply with George and his veteran peers. “When we joined Facebook,” George says, “we didn’t see an obvious place for vets here, but once we were hired, we got it. And then we thought, ‘if only other vets knew this was a possibility.’” So they hatched a plan to get the word out.
At the Diversity Hackathon, a special company-wide event for employees to work on projects where tech and diversity intersect, George and his team jumped right in with their idea. After a few iterations, they settled on what eventually became a prototype of a Military Skills Translator Tool.

“It’s meant to be a conversation starter with recruiters,” George explains. “The translator tool is a jumping off point. It can help someone say, ‘I think I’d be great for this role, and here’s why.’”
The team focused on having the tool be helpful for users at both ends of the experience. In this case, that means both veterans and recruiters. “A veteran candidate can put in their military job,” explains George, “and they get a return of potential opportunities. And then on the other side for recruiters, if they get a vet resume, they can help translate skills on that end as well.”
The team was looking at how military jobs would best translate to skills needed for Facebook jobs. The Military.com database had an accessible repository of military jobs and skills associated. “We plugged into the database, “ George says, adding that the “Interests” field is a customization unique to Facebook, and that Facebook vets test it regularly to optimize results.
When asked to name the most exciting aspect of his job, George is quick to say that no day is ever the same as the last one. “I’m working on a lot of really cool programs,” he says. “They’re super impactful and they’re challenging problems.” He finishes his thought by describing his days at Facebook in a way that doesn’t sound that different from his previous career: “I like to get thrown into a space, learn quickly, and then be able to help.”
“Facebook is mission driven,” says George, “but more importantly, the employees are, too. This is a place where people are really working hard toward that mission, not just punching a clock and doing it for the paycheck. People come here because they want to contribute. I see a lot of parallels with the military. You join as a choice, but you stay because you believe in it. I want to be around people who also believe in it.”
Try the Military Skills Translator and join us in our mission to bring the world closer together: www.fb.careers/veterans.

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