Tips and Advice – Job Search Strategies for the 21st Century Veteran

 

 

 

This week, we’re happy to introduce a new guest blogger, Izzy Abbass, Commander of VFW Post 1.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most common concerns I hear from vets every day is “how will I find a job”?  This will only become more frequent as the number of troops; especially those from the Army and Marines are reduced in the next few years.  While it may seem daunting – take heart.  You bring much more to the job market than you give yourself credit for and the key is figuring out how best to reflect that in your profile.

Despite your background, training and career goals, the strategy is the same for everyone, whether senior management, entry level job or mid-career transition:

  1. Create a civilian resume
  2. Build your digital resume – LinkedIn
  3. Build/connect your network
  4. Target and research companies
  5. Portray yourself positively

While this may seem like a huge mountain to climb, it’s not – especially when you break it down into smaller chunks.  The following is a brief overview of the entire process and in future articles we will go into each in more depth.

1. Create a Civilian Resume

Start first by listing everything you’ve done in life in either a work or volunteer capacity.  This includes everything you’ve done in the military, any awards you’ve received and any recognition you’ve been given.  Don’t worry about translating it into civilian speak at first, that will come next.  The goal here is to have a shopping list of items that you can pull from to put into job specific resumes – this becomes your Master Resume.  Don’t worry about length because you are never going to submit to anyone.  For instance, my master resume is 5 pages long.

Next you need to convert your military experience to civilian speak.  We tend to use a lot of acronyms in the military which typically has no relation to anything in the civilian market place and we have jobs that seemingly have no correlation to the civilian world.  First, cut out the acronyms and convert your military job into what the civilian workplace looks at: how many people did you manage, what was the value of the equipment you were responsible for and what recognition did you receive?   Further, every job in the military provides skills employers are looking for.  I was infantry and we don’t have a lot of civilian infantry units running around holding ground.  But I did manage people, I was responsible for many dollars-worth of equipment and I completed assigned tasks on time under stressful conditions.

Finally, with your master resume in hand, you can create job or area specific resumes.  I personally have several versions – Telecommunications, Mobile Technology Specific, Project Management Specific, Marketing Specific, etc.   Do the same as these are the resumes you’ll submit for specific jobs based on the job posting.  You could have ten versions of your resume depending on your interest and what you are looking for, but every one of them is easy to create since you are just pulling from your master.

2. Build Your Digital Resume

Now that you have a master resume, you also need to build your digital resume.  The key tool here is LinkedInLinkedIn is not the same as Facebook – it really is a professional networking site.  Everyone, whether you are still in the military, enrolled in college or already employed should build a profile on LinkedIn.  We could devote several articles to LinkedIn but in a nut shell, here’s the key things to remember:

  • Complete your profile (LinkedIn gives you a completion status for you – max it to 100%)
  • Upload a good face shot – while that shot of you jumping out of a plane is cool, it doesn’t work here.
  • No private profile – don’t make it private as no one will see you.
  • Have lots of recommendations – ask everyone you know and have at least 3
  • Start connecting with people – friends, former bosses former co-workers, people you managed
  • Be active on LinkedIn – check in every day and let people know you are there – join groups
  • Make sure your contact settings are up to date and list basic personal information.

Join today and start exploring.  Find me, find your friends and find a group that interests you.

3. Build Your Network

This is one thing that scares a lot of people but once you get into the groove, it’s pretty easy.  As mentioned above, connect to friends, family, basically everyone on LinkedIn.  Always accept invitations to connect.  Also, join groups on LinkedIn and there are groups for everything.  If you served on the USS Dallas, there’s a group for that.  If you served in the 82nd Airborne, there are half a dozen different groups.  Join them and get into discussions with people, answer questions and connect.  Also, when you meet people in your job search in person, connect with them on LinkedIn when you get back to your computer.

A large number of positions are not even listed anymore and come up in the course of discussion with people you meet or their connections.  Networking is key.  Check for events in your area for networking. Another site – MeetUp – quite often lists networking events in your area.  Also, VSO – Veteran Service Organizations – like the VFW, American Legion, Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America, etc. have events and meetings from time to time.  Check them out and start making connections.

4. Target and Research Companies

Now you are ready to find the companies where you’ll fit and which make a great choice for your next job.  Research the company and find out what they have going on – new stores opening, expansion, new products, etc.  LinkedIn is also good for this as you can connect with people who have worked there or still are.  See if any of them are in your network or groups and connect with them.  In my experience, most people are happy to share information with you.  Everything you find out will be helpful in crafting your cover letter, tailoring your resume and for discussion in the interview.  Also, many companies can be followed on LinkedIn which will keep you up to date on the latest developments and staffing changes.

5. Portray Yourself Positively

No one knows you as well as you do so be your best sales rep.  Remember, all of us as vets have taken those extra steps of service that 99% of the country has not.  Be proud of you and your accomplishments.  This does not mean be arrogant but it does mean be confident.  When you get the interview remember to carry yourself well and be polite.  The key points for any interview are:

  • Be Yourself
  • Clean Appearance and wear a suit/business attire
  • Don’t smoke before the interview – if you smell of smoke, you’re hurting your chances
  • Practice answering questions about yourself – have family and friends interview you
  • Be concise in your answers – provide detail but don’t ramble on forever
  • Interview starts as soon as you enter the parking lot – be polite to everyone you meet including the receptionist and the guy watering plants
  • Be prepared with questions – see above about researching the company
  • Follow up with a thank you – hand written or through e-mail, always say thank you

Again, we’ll go into more detail on each of these issues in the future but this should give you a good road map of things to remember.  You do have to put effort into it but you bring so much more to the table than your civilian counterparts – remember that!

 

Izzy Abbass

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/izzyabbass

 

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Warrior Gateway Supporting Student Veterans of America at National Conference

Members of the Warrior Gateway team will be attending “The 4th Annual National Conference presented by Student Veterans of America,” December 8-10, 2011 in Las Vegas, NV.  This will be a great opportunity to connect with student veterans, their families, and the organizations and institutions assisting them.  To see the event schedule, register, and learn more information, click here.

Opening remarks and guest speakers include: Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Col. David Sutherland, Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Kevin Schmiegel, Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  The conference theme is “Combating Veteran Unemployment,” which is a predominant issue right now for veterans nationwide.  One of the conference highlights will be the career fair on Friday, which will involve Student Veterans of America partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and RecruitMilitary to bring employers from across many different sectors together that want to hire veterans.  Top tier employers will be in attendance, such as veteran friendly employers Booz Allen Hamilton and General Electric.  Attendees are encouraged to bring multiple copies of their resume and employers are asked to bring national and local job opportunities.

We will provide a live feed from the event through social media, so stay in touch!  If you are attending, or know someone who is, please connect with us. We are excited to network with as many student veterans, military families, and other organizations as we can.

Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin and join the conversation!

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@WarriorGateway supporting @StudentVets national conference in #Vegas: http://ow.ly/7H35R #military #education

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Warrior Gateway will be supporting veterans continuing higher education and employment next week at the 4th Annual Student Veterans of America National Conference in Las Vegas, NV.  http://www.warriorgateway.info/?p=2958

Warrior Gateway Featured Resource At “2nd Annual Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference”

The Warrior Gateway team is proud to be a featured resource at the “2nd Annual Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference” on November 9-10, 2011, in Vienna, Virginia.  As we approach Veterans Day, we are reminded of our commitment to those who have served our Nation and are looking for employment opportunities in both the public and private sector. In recognizing this, the Department of the Navy is hosting the 2nd Annual Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference “Hiring our Nation’s Heroes.”

Goal:

To convene prominent government, military, and industry leaders and their human resource professionals who are committed to hiring and supporting Wounded Warriors. Conference attendees will have the unique opportunity to learn best practices from many successful organizations on how to recruit, hire, train and retain Wounded Warriors.

On the Agenda:
There is an AMAZING line-up of distinguished guest speakers including senior leadership in the federal government, private industry, Wounded Warrior care agencies, and hiring programs that will share their best practices. Our conference will boast OVER 20 BREAK-OUT SESSIONS to offer you their TOOLS and RESOURCES on how to hire and support Wounded Warriors. There will also be EXHIBITORS from various agencies and organizations that support our Wounded Warriors.

Fees:
THE CONFERENCE IS ENTIRELY FREE.  Plenty of free parking is available. You may purchase food and beverages on-site.

Register:
To register, please go to the following website and received the latest conference updates: http://www.public.navy.mil/donaa/Pages/woundedwarrior.aspx

Date:
November 9 – 10, 2011

Location:
Sheraton Premiere at Tyson’s Corner, 8661 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA.

More Information:
Please contact the Conference Management Team at nssc_wwarriorhiring@navy.mil

Please forward this email to anyone who may interested in attending our event.

Summer 2011 Marketing Internships!

So you use Yelp to find where to go to dinner.  Or perhaps Rotten Tomatoes to help decide what movie to see?  Trip Advisor to decide where to vacation?  Every day you use the power of other people’s opinions, insights and experiences to make decisions.  So why don’t our veterans have those same tools available to them when decided on where to go for healthcare, job opportunities, family assistance or education and training?

If you’re looking for an internship to become a rockstar product marketer and social media guru, Warrior Gateway is looking for you.

We’re looking for someone to come into our DC office or our San Francisco office at least two days per week.  If you have an interest in being part of a digital non-profit that is transforming the veterans landscape, then we want to hear from you.

The marketing internship is a hybrid role that will include assignments and learning opportunities across our strategic partnership and social media marketing groups.

Responsibilities may include but are not limited to: General office assistance, Salesforce.com management, Google Adwords Advertising Campaigns, Market Research, Facebook Fan Page management, Twitter Follower management, Social Media marketing metrics reporting and creation of Warrior Gateway blog posts.

Expectations:

-       Minimum commitment of 15 hours per week at one of our offices

-       A high energy level

-       Competency with Google Apps, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Sprout Social, TweetDeck

-       Fast learning and interested in the world of online marketing

 

This is a paid internship. Email all applications with a resume and cover letter to: resumes@warriorgateway.org with Marketing Intern in the subject line.  Applications without a cover letter will not be looked at nor considered.

 

New VA bill established to assist post-9/11 veteran caregivers could fall short

On 5 May 2010 President Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, Public Law 111-163. The bill, first of its kind, intends to provide direct assistance to veteran families. However, recent press releases indicate that the bill is in distress. Many articles are quick to fault the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) after the organization missed the 31 January 2011 deadline to start carrying out provisions of the bill, and before that, the 1 November 2010 implementation plan milestone. The VA signed the long-awaited implementation plan on Wednesday 9 February, but the contents of that bill may be falling short of its mark. For instance, only about 10 percent of the intended post-9/11 caregiver population (est. 850) are said to be eligible for assistance.

New benefits – restricted to caregivers of the critically wounded and seriously ill of the post-9/11 veterans – outlined by the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, include: monthly stipend (based on the average home healthcare costs in the veterans hometown), health care coverage, travel expenses (including lodging and per diem while accompanying veterans undergoing care), respite care, and mental health services/counseling.

Among those supporting the bill are the following political figures:

  • Sen. Daniel Akaka (HI)
  • Sen. Richard Burr (NC)
  • Sen. Patty Murray (WA), Chairwoman, Senate Veteran’s Affairs Committee
  • Rep. Jeff Miller (FL), Chairman, House Committee on Veteran Affairs

While some of the enhancements are currently available, many will require an issuance of regulations, whereas others will remain unavailable. To date, the VA has given no timeline as to when the services will be available to caregivers. However, under the law, the VA must report to Congress within 2 years about the possibilities of providing the enhanced benefits to all post-9/11 caregivers.

The Warrior Gateway can assist those that are affected by the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 by providing veteran caregivers a place to find assistance services located in their hometown. The free-of-charge Warrior Gateway directory currently has over 100 caregiver assistance organizations available for veterans of all eras.

Please feel free to post comments about this blog and suggest other topics you would like to see covered by the Warrior Gateway Government Relations Blog.