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




#Job Search Strategies for the 21st Century Veteran: @WarriorGateway

5 Job Search Strategies for the 21st Century Veteran: @WarriorGateway


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, 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.


-       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: with Marketing Intern in the subject line.  Applications without a cover letter will not be looked at nor considered.


Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships

Warrior Gateway seeks a Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships to create, lead and implement a fundraising strategy that will increase the Warrior Gateway’s ability to expand current and untapped funding sources as well as identify and prioritize new possible funding streams.  Reporting to the Executive Director, the Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships will provide overall direction, coordination and implementation of the organization’s fundraising operations.  This is a hands on role!

This is an important position at Warrior Gateway and this individual will serve as a member of the dynamic management team, providing the strategic vision and leadership necessary to plan and execute a development plan that ensures Warrior Gateway’s continued independence.

This is an ideal opportunity for a highly motivated, entrepreneurial and strategic-minded individual to build a new function by leveraging the organization’s successful track record in fundraising and expanding on its solid base.

Key responsibilities of the role:

  • Facilitate the creation and implementation of a $2+ million annual fundraising plan for Warrior Gateway, including long-term income goals and strategies, in consultation with the Executive Director and the Warrior Gateway Board
  • Maintain and manage relationships with existing individual, foundation and corporate funders
  • Research, identify and cultivate new foundation, individual and corporate sponsor prospects; develop compelling proposals and reports as needed; support Executive Director outreach to prospects and donors; and pitch prospects alone and/or with the ED or Board members
  • Identify and explore opportunities for corporate and individual support with an emphasis on unrestricted giving, further diversifying funding streams, while ensuring the Warrior Gateway’s continued independence and reputation for breakthrough thinking
  • Advise and coach the Executive Director, staff and Board members on solicitations and the development of prospect cultivation and donor stewardship activities, enabling them to successfully raise funds and meet the ongoing challenges of a first-rate institution
  • Advise the senior staff on ways to expand income and exposure from conferences and meetings
  • Ensure the highest quality in fundraising communications and promotional materials, including proposals, applications, correspondence, reports, budgetary and program information, and monitoring.

CANDIDATE REQUIREMENTS: An ideal candidate will bring the following professional experience and personal characteristics:

  • A passion for and commitment to the mission of Warrior Gateway
  • Demonstrated record of progressively responsible experience in a non-profit fundraising position, preferably at the Director level.  Experience using both traditional and online strategies is preferred.
  • An ability to communicate effectively the critical need for solutions to the eliminate the gaps in connecting the Sea of Goodwill to those in the military community
  • Deep desire for networking and relationship building
  • Innovative strategic thinking coupled with a keen intellect and curiosity
  • Sophistication, with the intellectual depth and maturity to coach and work with dynamic executives, staff, Board members and others in development-related activities
  • Excellent written, presentation and communication skills and the experience and inclination to be an effective, outgoing spokesperson for Warrior Gateway
  • A strategic and comprehensive approach to planning and decision making; the ability to back assertions with facts and data; a strong management record with proven success in producing results
  • Exceptional organizational skills with an eye for detail; the highest degree of professionalism and follow-through
  • A collegial, consultative and team-building approach that puts others at ease and engenders trust; the ability to actively listen, with an appreciation for nuance in communication
  • Unquestioned integrity and a commitment to the highest ethical standards
  • The intellectual strength and curiosity to understand and appreciate the varied and complex pursuits of the product and program staff and the ability to translate that understanding to the layperson
  • A friendly and supportive working style that brings out the best in colleagues
  • An optimistic outlook and a flexible, innovative nature
  • A sense of humor
  • An undergraduate degree is required; an advanced degree or CFRE certification is preferred
  • Candidate would ideally be located in the Washington, DC or San Francisco, CA area though not required
  • This position requires significant travel
  • Those with prior military experience encouraged to apply

COMPENSATION: Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications. Warrior Gateway offers a comprehensive benefits package.

Email all applications with a resume and cover letter to: with Operations and Strategic Partnerships in the subject line.  Applications without a cover letter will not be looked at nor considered.

Director of Engineering

You will be the rockstar ninja guru technical frontman of the Warrior Gateway.  Working hand in hand with our Director of Product Management, the two of you will take the Warrior Gateway platform to the next level and accomplish our mission.  Here are the details:

Position: Director of Engineering


  • Lead web application development of web portal
  • Lead the development of our API & Platform strategy
  • Work as part of agile team environment in a startup environment
  • Able to take on tasks beyond your scope of responsibilities to achieve results
  • Write code!  You will be responsible for developing features when our consultants and/or pro-bono developers are not available.

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Manager/Director of Product Marketing and Social Media

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 a rockstar product marketer and social media guru, Warrior Gateway is looking for you.

The Manager/Director of Product Marketing and Social Media is a broad role focused on the following:

  • Evangelize the message of the Warrior Gateway
  • Grow our visibility in the military community
  • Support the strategic partnership team in developing and executing partnerships with other NGO and governmental organizations
  • Lead our social media efforts

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