Alumni Spotlight – Colonel Ken Kmetz

Hey all!  We are back again to spotlight another one of our distinguished Buckeye alumni.  Our newest feature is Colonel Kenneth Kmetz, a 1998 graduate of the MAnsfield Campus of The Ohio State.   Colonel Kmetz graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, while serving in the Air National Guard.  He has now ascended the ranks to the position of Maintenance Group Commander of the 179th Airlift Wing, and he remains a proud Buckeye, through and through!

  1. What brought you to OSU?

Upon enlistment in the Ohio Air National Guard and at my swearing in – where you take an oath to the President of the United States and the Governor of Ohio that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United State and the state of Ohio – I immediately became eligible for a full scholarship to state based institutions.  This is a state of Ohio benefit, as the state realizes the value of having and supporting their “home town/state Air Force and Army National Guard.”  Airmen and soldiers are also eligible for federal benefits that augment the state benefits.  Essentially, we have the opportunity to graduate from college debt free, better for having been a part of something bigger than ourselves, and ready to contribute as a Citizen-Airman.  Knowing this, I chose The Ohio State University because, in my opinion, it is the best university.  OSU provided great traditions, academic excellence, and for me, a regional campus that would allow me to work full time while earning my education.  I graduated from OSU-Mansfield and received the same great education as if I were at main campus.  Go Bucks!

  1. How did your experience at OSU shape your career path?

OSU taught me to learn, to research, and to challenge myself. My time there provided me with the opportunity to compete for a commission (or, become an officer) in the Ohio National Guard.  The things I learned at Ohio State enabled me to grow in the profession of arms.  That profession happens to be as an Ohio Guardsman where I am surrounded by other “Buckeyes.”  I could be in a formation anywhere in the state and hear an “O-H!” followed by an “I-O!”  Ohio State is a part of the culture of Ohio.  I am one Buckeye – a small part of a much larger whole.  Being a part of the National Guard gives me that same feeling, but on a much larger scale.  Here, I serve as a small piece of something so much bigger than myself, and yet somehow, I am not lost in it. I feel valued and realize that what I do is critical to the big picture — defending our nation, our neighbors, and freedom loving people across the globe.

  1. What advice or insight do you have for OSU alumni and students who are interested in your career field?

I have touched on a couple points already that make my career path special, especially as a “Buckeye” working as an Ohio Guardsman.  I am proud to serve and it is an honor and a privilege to serve our great state and nation.  The military has a public trust that is unmatched across career paths.  If you are in uniform in public, people routinely come up to you and thank you for your service.  It is very humbling to say the least; I typically respond by thanking them for their support as well, and recognizing that we cannot do what we do without them.  One of my former commanders pointed out how citizens in some countries run from the military — here, they run to the military.  Less than one percent of the US population is in the military — an all-volunteer force that has been at war for decades.  It is a special place to be with a special mission and opportunities to grow, advance, learn, and provide something back to your community.  If you have the desire to join, you will need to be diligent, ready for a challenge, and give your best — your country deserves nothing less.

Cover Letters vs. Value Propositions

In today’s ever changing world of the job seeker, there is always a push to put your best foot forward and demonstrate versatility and innovation in the job market.  One relatively new trend that we often see with clients is a transition from using a traditional cover letter to the more modern “value proposition”.  Both are excellent tools for a job seeker to have in his toolbox; however, for maximum effectiveness, it is critical to know which document is appropriate for a given situation.

First, though, let’s take some time to outline the differences between the two.  A cover letter is the more traditional document that a job seeker will include in her introductory package to a potential employer.  Typically about one page in length, a cover letter highlights experiences and achievements in previous positions, using them as evidence that the candidate will be able to meet the needs expressed by the employer in the job announcement.  Cover letters focus on the past, with a candidate spending three to five paragraphs expounding on their previous experiences and qualifications as they relate to a particular position.

Conversely, a value proposition letter is a much shorter document – generally only about 100-150 words.  While a cover letter focuses on what you have done in the past, a value proposition focuses instead on what you can (and will) do for the company in the present and future.  Because they are significantly less expository in nature, it is not necessary for them to be long, drawn-out documents.

Now that you know the difference between the two, let’s talk about how to know when you should use each.  First up – when should you use a cover letter? The most obvious instance for when you should use a cover letter is when an employer asks for it.  Even if you feel that a value proposition letter or other document would be more impactful in a given scenario you should always defer to any directions given by an employer.  Not doing so puts you at risk of being disqualified altogether.

It is also a good idea to use a cover letter when there is a need to explain something unusual on your resume or in your background.  For example, if you took time away from the traditional workforce to care for a sick family member or have children, a cover letter would be a great way to not only explain this to an employer, but to also highlight some of the transferable skills that you may have gained as a result of this (such as budgeting, conflict resolution, etc.).

When an employer does not specifically ask for a cover letter, you may decide to use a value proposition letter instead.  Regardless of whether or not an advertisement specifically asks for a cover letter, it is important to always send a document that introduces you to an employer.  You may also decide to use a value proposition letter if you are making a cold call to a potential employer who has not specifically advertised for a position.  The value proposition letter would be a strong way to introduce yourself and your potential contributions to a company, by identifying a problem that they may or may not know that they have, as well as including yourself as a solution to the issue.

If you are unsure which is more appropriate, err on the side of traditionalism, and use a cover letter.  Remember, though, that you can use elements of a value proposition in your cover letter to make it more compelling.  While crafting your “combination cover letter”, be sure to emphasize where you are presently, and only speak to the past as a means to bolster what you plan to do in the present and the future.  Place a great deal of emphasis on your experiences and skills as a way to add value to the company that you are applying to.  Finally, keep in concise – speak directly to what areas of concern you will specifically address for an employer, and be sure to limit yourself to no more than one page