Hire For Attitude, First… A Review Of CALL SIGN CHAOS

General James Mattis just published a tremendous memoir, “Call Sign Chaos,” in collaboration with Bing West, another solid patriot.

This is not just a book review, but before I get to the topic of this submission, it must be stated: you gotta read “Call Sign Chaos.”

Mattis provides through his impressive career a history of geo-political military action over the last generation, post-Vietnam. Succinct and insightful, this partial biography of General Mattis’ service will fill your gaps of knowledge and keep our nation’s mission in the 20th and emerging 21st century in tight perspective, whether you are a veteran or a civilian.

It’s tremendous. You gotta read it. Mattis quotes everyone from Sun-Tzu to Churchill, and the anecdotes are pure gold.

One mantra that Mattis discusses in his tour as a recruiting CO was “Recruit for Attitude, Train for Skill.” Most recruiters (a tough and often unfruitful job) already know this, but it is “new” to me and it resonates. Heck, I walked into the NJ OSO’s office in 1979 and said, “sign me up.” No salesmanship required.

“Recruit for Attitude, Train for Skill” perfectly describes how to find raw talent for the Marine Corps. The problem for private business leaders today is that with a hard labor market, where there are more jobs to fill than people looking, the hiring manager/employer is on the hunt only for skill and experience. Yet the person being recruited has all the cards.

If you are hiring now, would you offer a job to Joe Schmuckatelli just for his great attitude? Probably not. The hiring manager has a job to do, to fill a gap, like the company requires an accountant who is bilingual. That’s a narrow example, but for the transitioning Marine still looking for meaningful work, this experience thing causes a lot of frustration.

We know that a veteran has tons of attitude, most of it exceptional: initiative, confidence, judgment, dependability, and enthusiasm, to name a few.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if a hiring manager told an eager veteran, “We want you because you have the right attitude, and you’ll fit in our culture. We can train you to do the job.”

Jobs that involve labor or dealing with the public are based on a positive attitude, thankfully, but why can’t white collar jobs also be about what the person brings with his or her heart, and not just a resume?

It’s a mistake for companies to not follow Mattis’ advice. A good organization can train anyone in what to do. A great organization hires for attitude, especially in a tight buyer’s labor market.

The transitioning veteran, now, in 2019, has a very strong hand to play in the hiring process.

Sure, you must meet minimum qualifications. But smart recruiters will still bring you aboard because of your “can-do” attitude. Show ‘em what you got.

General Mattis’ recruiting mantra should resound for another generation.

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(c) 2019 Kevin Horgan, www.corps2corporate.com

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FROM THE CORPS TO CORPORATE and Points in Between... is a series of personal musings using the Leadership Principles and Qualities of the USMC, through my eyes and experiences.  I had a wide variety of successes and failures both large and small, and perhaps you will see yourself or others in the opinions herein.

I am a retired UPSer, having spent a fast 33 years with the organization.  I served in management positions in engineering, operations, and as an attorney in real estate.  I started law school

and loading trucks for Big Brown on the same day in 1984.

Before UPS, I served as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps.

That experience was the great privilege of my life.

I was nothing special:  I deployed, but was never shot at!

I have written two historical novels on the Civil War, THE MARCH OF THE 18TH, and THE MARCH OF THE ORPHANS.

(See www.kevinhorganbooks.com).


I have a political blog using a fictional character that spanned from January to August 2019. (See www.ourcultureinchoate.com) 

If you like this work, please share.  Your comments are always welcome!