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Program Manager, Military Talent Attraction at AT&T
As AT&T’s military liaison, Army veteran Chris Norton connects transitioners with good corporate jobs.
By Warren Duffie  

Talk about writing your own career ticket.

Chris Norton was part of an AT&T employee resource group that was seeking ways to better serve its military employees and attract transitioning veterans as future employees. Norton saw the need for a corporate recruiter specifically tasked with reaching out to the military community.cnorton219x292

“I ended up writing a job description for the position and presented it to my superiors,” Norton said. “They looked at it, considered my military background, and said I would be perfect for the job. I just fell into the job.”

On the Job
Norton, 39, is AT&T’s “military guy.” His official title is program manager, military talent attraction, and he’s responsible for promoting the jobs and career opportunities the company offers to military veterans and dependents. This involves planning targeted advertising and marketing campaigns, and working with media outlets and transition assistance offices. The Army Reserve major also trains AT&T’s recruiters on the value veterans bring to the company.

“Let’s be honest,” he said, “there’s a culture and language gap between the military and civilian populations. It can be hard for both sides to bond with each other. Part of what I do is help people understand the hard and soft skills that military personnel bring to corporate America. I’m very much an evangelist for the military.” 

In Uniform
Needing money for college, Norton joined the Army ROTC at Rutgers University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science in 1996. After earning his commission, Norton completed transportation school at Fort Eustis, Va.

From 1996 to 2002, Norton worked for AT&T in customer service operations. But in 2002, he was laid off. Luckily, he soon was called to active duty, which lasted from 2002 to 2005. During that time, Norton served in New Jersey, Virginia, New York and Iraq.

The Transition
In 2005, Norton was set to re-enter the civilian workforce. About six months before he left active duty, he began rebuilding his network and figuring out in which industries he wanted to work. He also spent hours searching for a job online and sending out his résumé.

“Initially, I didn’t get any results,” Norton said. “I had a hard time translating my military experience to civilian employers. It was tough to crack that code.”

Then Norton’s networking efforts paid off. A former AT&T co-worker told him the company was looking to hire project managers. Norton created a new résumé stressing his Army experience leading troops, prioritizing and multitasking. He soon landed an interview and was hired.

“There was some culture shock at first,” Norton said. “I had to slow down and realize there wasn’t a life-and-death component to everything. I got used to things fairly quickly, though. It was nice not to have to deploy anymore.

“Looking back, I would have started my job search a year out instead of six months,” he continued. “I think that would have reduced my stress level.”

How’d You Get That Job?
In 2005, Norton was set to re-enter the civilian workforce. About six months before he left active duty, he began rebuilding his network and figuring out in which industries he wanted to work. He also spent hours searching for a job online and sending out his résumé.

“Initially, I didn’t get any results,” Norton said. “I had a hard time translating my military experience to civilian employers. It was tough to crack that code.”

Then Norton’s networking efforts paid off. A former AT&T co-worker told him the company was looking to hire project managers. Norton created a new résumé stressing his Army experience leading troops, prioritizing and multitasking. He soon landed an interview and was hired.

What Norton Loves About His Job

  • Getting to work with and talk about veterans all day long.
  • Making a difference and seeing the results of my work.

Norton’s Advice
Look for other veterans. “Try to cultivate military contacts within the companies to which you apply. It will help establish a connection with people who get it. The transition experience can be lonely since a small percentage of the population actually serves in the military.”

Use your GI Bill. “Get your degree. It will make you more valuable to civilian employers. If you don’t use those benefits, it’s like leaving money on the table.”

Develop your personal brand. “Get on LinkedIn and develop a detailed, robust profile.”


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