Guest Post: The Power of Conversation

By Jean South, CEO Hire Served & Josh Holloman, Hire Served Military Liaison

If your baby isn’t trying to talk at a certain age, the doctors get worried and tests are run.

When teenagers become too cool to speak to their parents, we consider it “normal”, but it’s hard for Mom and Dad to adjust to.

When the conversation re-opens in their twenties, everyone breathes a sigh because it indicates a shift in the parent/child relationship from one of authority to one of collegiality.

“The silent treatment” is considered an effective terms of punishment against your significant other when you’ve been wronged – conversation is that powerful.

We could go on and on, but you get the point – conversation equals connection.

Connection equals belonging.

Belonging equals protection from threats.

Protection from threats equals freedom to pursue our dreams.

We all know this inherently, yet we only relate it to one part of the job search – the interview. We hear over and over, “If I could just get an interview, I know I could kill it.” In fact, more than half of job seekers say that. We are pretty sure the other half are terrified of the interview for fear of “getting it wrong.” They all seem to believe that one interview is the magical moment.

We believe if you are relying on one conversation, whether employer or employee, you’re wrong. Just like all your other relationships, the employment relationship requires continuous conversation. If we were in charge of your job search, you would spend 10% of the energy you are spending on your resume and 90% on creating conversations. You see, people don’t hire pieces of paper. They don’t become intrigued by text on a page written in chronological order. They don’t advocate for lists of accomplishments and past duties. People hire, become intrigued by, advocate for other people. Bottom line.

Your job as the job seeker is to be seen, known, and advocated for by as many people as it takes to land your dream job.

This is the psychology behind networking. When everyone says, “You must “network” to get a job”, what they really mean is, “You must create advocates who will vouch for you within their circle of influence.”

How do you do that? How do you create advocates?

You engage other people in conversation. You build a relationship wherein others see the value you can bring to an organization and feel enough good will and trust towards you that they want to tell individuals in that organization to hire you. Therefore, these relationships must be:

1 – More than drinking buddies. At some point, you must give others the ability to see your skillset, not just think you’re fun to hang out with.

2 – Genuine – you should not be faking it to get what you want – people can see through that and then it will bite you in the butt.

That’s all good and well, but how do I get started?

We’ve been told by many people that networking is intimidating. Many assume that, because we are talkers who can meet someone in a grocery store and get their life story, it’s easy for us to walk up to a complete stranger and form a relationship. And those people would be wrong. (They would also be wrong to assume this is ALWAYS a welcome skill-sometimes you just want to buy milk and not hear about someone’s gramma’s gout!) To create a conversation with someone we don’t know requires vulnerability and that is difficult no matter who you are. We get that it is harder for some than others, and wish there was a good solution other than networking for finding your dream job. (In fact, there IS a way introverts can play to their strengths here, we’ll cover that in a future post).

If conversation is the key, how do we create conversations that will lead to advocates? The coaching program at Hire Served goes into this in depth to teach you how to reach out to complete strangers and start a conversation, but there’s no time for that here so we want to share with you the best hack we’ve found to get you started. It’s called Veterati and it’s a mentorship platform set up specifically for service members, vets and their spouses. This platform removes all the barriers to meaningful conversation with complete strangers. The mentors are individuals who want to meet with you to help you find your path. The system creates seamless scheduling and contact. You even get prompts on how to prepare for your Veterati calls. It couldn’t be easier.

How can you best leverage Veterati?

We teach all of our Hire Served coaches to first understand the objectives of their current phase in the job search process.

Are you in the exploration phase? Seek mentors from as many different industries and job functions as possible and ask them the question, “Please tell me about your path to the career you are in and what you love/hate about it.”

Have you narrowed your search down to a corporate function (finance, sales, marketing, HR), but unsure which company you want to work for? Meet with mentors in that function at many different companies – be sure to seek out both large and small businesses and to look across industry to find where your best fit might be. Ask that individual to tell you, specifically, about the job functions and tasks required in their job and to discuss the skills and qualifications required to execute their job well.

Do you know which company you want to work for? Get on the phone with mentors either in that company OR connected to people in that company (This will require some work on LinkedIn) and ask two things:

  • Talk to me about the values of the organization and how you have seen those values lived out by individuals in the organization (Trust us, if there is a values mismatch between you and the company, you won’t be happy there for long).
  • What are the challenges the organization is facing right now? This will help you identify where you can add value and adding value is the key to landing a job.

Job search isn’t easy, but by seeing it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and others, you’ll take a bit of the mystery out of the search and, hopefully, the value of self-discovery will play out in other areas of your life.

Let Veterati be a tool to make your search easier and if you need additional help along the way, contact Josh Holloman, the Hire Served Military Liaison, to enroll in our Pay-It-Forward Coaching program.

Jean is a Marine Spouse, the daughter of two Army Veterans, and a former FBI Special Agent. As an FBI Agent she focused on Russian Organized Crime. She transitioned out of Government service in 2014 and joined McChrystal Group, founded by General Stan McChrystal, where she was a consultant and recruiter. She founded Hire Served in 2016.  

In her “spare” time, she is a Board member with Semper Fido, a non-profit which pairs veterans with PTSD and TBI with service dogs, and a volunteer with The Weekly Fight, an organization dedicated to bringing attention to the high rate of suicides in the veteran community.

Jean South
President / CEO
Hire Served
p: 856-499-2358
w: e:

Joshua Holloman is an Airmen whose peers sing his praises for creating engaging training programs and executing those programs efficiently and effectively on base. He’s been deployed to the middle east on multiple occasions and is looking forward to his transition, when he’ll settle down with his wife (also serving in the Air Force) and work out three hours a day. Josh works with transitioning veterans to understand what kind of work will bring them fulfillment and then to help them make vital connections to prospective employers, building advocates along the way. To work with Josh, email him at

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