Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Challenges of Hiring Recent Veterans

Entrepreneurs are happy to hire recent veterans, so why is it so hard?

The statistics are alarming. According to the Department of Labor’s November figures, 10 percent of recent Veterans are unemployed. That’s significantly higher than the 7.7 percent unemployment rate for the general population. For female Veterans, the unemployment rate is nearly 13 percent.

Given that small businesses are behind much of the job creation in the country, there would seem to be an obvious fix: Make sure that Veterans fill some of those jobs you create. It’s hard to question the social good of hiring those who have served our country. However, there are stumbling blocks that pose challenges if you are interested in hiring Veterans.

One problem is that many recent Veterans returning home don’t have the skills that are needed in the changing economy, says Justin Ashton, co-founder of XL Hybrids, a Boston-based developer of technology for converting vehicles to hybrids. He says he would like to hire Veterans but finds that many lack the training he seeks.

“Vets bring a lot to the table, but the jobs that are open are more technical than they were 10 years ago, and there is a mismatch in skills,” he says. Ashton, a former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, suggests that the retraining programs offered by organizations such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs should be tweaked to include up-to-date training on things such as Web programming and Web 2.0 marketing. “It is a very competitive job market, and they are competing against people with more focused skills,” he says.

Also, although Veterans are instilled with qualities such as discipline, leadership, and loyalty, it can be hard to transmit that fact to employers. Luke Sutherland served two tours of duty in Iraq as a cavalry scout in the Army before leaving the military in 2009. Even with degrees in finance and economics that he was able to earn with help from the GI Bill, he struggled to land a job against candidates with more practical experience.

“It’s difficult to take the military skill set and training and put that on a résumé,” he says. “I can’t say I can take apart a machine gun or read a map or lead a patrol. It just doesn’t translate.” Sutherland persevered and landed a job as a project analyst for J.G. Management Systems, a company that provides technical management consulting to the federal government.

Another issue is the government’s handling of the tax credits that are available to employers for hiring Veterans. On paper, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit offers employers refunds ranging from $2,400 to $9,600 for hiring unemployed or wounded and disabled Veterans. But, like most things related to the government, it’s rarely that simple. There are so many caveats and categories to the byzantine credits that they are often hard to claim. Veteran Corps of America offers a good example. The O’Fallon, Illinois-based provider of security services and protective systems for government clients has qualified only once for a tax credit, despite the fact that 70 percent of its 33-person work force consists of Veterans. The credit amounted to $2,400.

“The system of credits is complex, and some require us to request that Veterans volunteer personal information in order for us to take advantage of a given credit,” says Bill Wheeler, president of Veteran Corps. “As you might imagine, that is something of a sticky wicket.” However, Wheeler says the tax credits (or lack thereof) have little to do with his decision to hire Veterans. A retired Air Force pilot, Wheeler has made it his mission to employ Veterans and help them readjust to civilian life. It has been mutually beneficial–the company’s revenue jumped to $76 million in 2011 from $8 million in 2008.

“In a small business, you are often looking for people to step out of their comfort zone,” Wheeler
says. “These folks are hard chargers who will rise to the challenge, and when they come in, the bar moves up.”

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Lockheed Martin Supports SSVs Workforce Transition Programs

Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] will present a $10,000 grant to Still Serving Veterans (SSV) on Monday to aid in transitioning Veterans to meaningful post-military careers.

There are over 32,000 veterans in Madison County, 430,000 in Alabama, many of whom have disabilities. The unemployment rate for Veterans is over twice the national average, and severely disabled Veterans need significant training and assistance to find meaningful employment. Veterans’ physical and psychological injuries hamper finding work which directly leads to financial struggles.

Lockheed Martin, a member of the Huntsville community for almost 50 years, is proud to partner with SSV to support Veterans’ advocacy initiatives and long-term development and employee placement for Veterans. The Lockheed Martin-funded grant will enhance the SSV’s Workforce Community Blueprint Transition program, which provides resources for counseling, coaching, job transition and assistance in obtaining Veterans Administration (VA) benefits.

“The selfless service of America’s military provides the freedoms each of us enjoys every day. At Lockheed Martin, we are committed to providing Veterans opportunities when they no longer wear the uniform,” said Joanne Maguire, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. “This partnership with Still Serving Veterans is an example of how we continue to support and honor the sacrifices and service of our Veteran population during their transition from military service.

SSV’s focus is on empowering Veterans and their families by helping them reintegrate into the workforce and community after their service to our country. “Education, stable and fulfilling employment, and access to healthcare services empower our nation’s service members and their families to successfully reintegrate into civilian life and lead enriching lives,” said SSV President COL(R) Will Webb. “Our hero Veterans have done noble things in treacherous places on our behalf.  After their sacrifices, a meaningful new career is the best ‘thank you’ we can give them and their families. This partnership with Lockheed Martin will help to achieve these successes thru workforce transition assistance for our community.”

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 120,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services.  The Corporation’s net sales for 2012 were $47.2 billion.

Founded in 2006, Still Serving Veterans’ (SSV’s) mission is to empower Veterans, including wounded warriors and their families, by helping them reintegrate into the workforce and community. Services include outreach and education, individual case management, referral to mental health counseling with a focus in PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI), long-term career development and employment placement, financial planning, and help securing VA benefits. SSV works with Veteran businesses and coordinates employment opportunities with the Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) in Madison County and in all of Alabama.

Tips to Succeed With In-Person Networking

Article by Miriam Salpeter

Original Source: http://www.strategicbusinessnetwork.com

You’ve probably heard that candidates referred by friends are much more likely to be hired. Statistics regarding how many employers fill jobs via their networks vary, but some toss around numbers as high as 80 percent. No matter the exact figures, no one doubts that networking helps job seekers.

There are many ways for job seekers to expand the numbers of people who know, like, and trust them and who may be willing to serve as their allies in a job search. Social networking—using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+—provides many opportunities to engage and interact with new people.

Job seekers should not forget in-person networking, though. No matter how useful online networks are, candidates who use those tools as stepping stones to meet people in person will access opportunities and resources beyond those available online. In many cases, in-person follow-up makes the difference between two people who have heard of each other and respect one another and two, committed colleagues who are willing to go out of their way to refer each other for job and business opportunities.

A new tool can help people in many large cities find in-person networking opportunities. 99Events.com (http://www.99events.com) allows you to search for events using a keyword. For example, you could search for “career” in your big city. The site will search public events posted on a variety of tools like TicketLeap, Meetup, Facebook, Eventbrite, and Eventful. (And all of these databases are potentially useful tools to search individually if 99Events does not support your city or town.)

Don’t limit yourself to career events. Find groups who share your personal interests. If you haven’t searched tools such as MeetUp, you may be surprised by the depth and breadth of special interest groups meeting all around the country.

How can you improve your chances to make the most of events you attend?

Research who is coming.
 It’s so easy to find out who’s attending an event. Even personal events, such as birthday party invitations, often come via email with online RSVPs that make it easy to see who’s attending. Look for people you don’t know and try to find out more about them. Google their names and identify some contacts you may want to know better. Ask friends who they think you should want to meet and co-opt their help for suggestions—and introductions.

Introduce yourself well.
 Don’t just show up at professional and casual events before considering what you want other people to know about you. Be able to say something about yourself that would interest the people you meet. Be sure to target what you say so it won’t bore your talking companion.

Follow up.
 Don’t forget: It’s your job to keep in touch with people you want to know. Do not expect to hear back from anyone you meet, even if they say they’ll call. Make sure to maintain control of the engagement and interaction by getting contact information you’ll need to get in touch and by asking how to best connect after the event.

When you plan ahead and include all of these issues on your “to do” list, you will be ahead of most job seekers and that much closer to landing a job.

How to Properly Audition for a Job

Straight from the desk of Bill Koch, SSV’s Director/Workforce Development, here is another lesson in job readiness. The following article gives you tips on how to wow an employer by implementing simple changes when writing your resume, emailing, and interviewing:

One of the biggest frustrations I hear from job seekers is that they do not understand why they aren’t getting an interview, or even getting an acknowledgement from the employer. It pains me to say that I have watched as potential job seekers will scour job boards and just throw something together, in order to move onto the next posting.

The most important thing to remember is that searching for a job is like auditioning. This audition doesn’t start at the interview, it starts the moment you start looking for work.

“Assume that everything you do, in every part of the hiring process from your initial contact through job offer and acceptance, is being viewed as a demonstration of how you would perform on the job,” says Susan, a Job Coach from Work Coach Café.

Here are some recommendations that are made for each step of the hiring process.

  • Application: When you submit your application or resume; make sure it is submitted on time, the copy is clean of debris/stains (purchasing some Manilla folders will help with this), and well-done.
  • Response: When you email with staff members remember to be polite, well-written, short, and clear. While emailing back and fourth with potential employers emails that are lengthy or with major grammatical errors are never read thoroughly.
  • First Interview: For most companies, this will be in the form of a phone interview. Dress for the interview as if you are meeting with the hiring panel face-to-face. There is a psychological difference between doing an interview in a suit, versus your Pajamas.  Be prepared with your resume in front of you, be pleasant to talk with, and most importantly be professional.
  • Second Interview: Even if you have made it past the phone interview, you are still not in the home stretch. Second to the resume’s this is where you can make it or break it. Your second interview will be Face-to-Face. Similar to the phone interview, be well-prepared with copies of your application materials, ensure your interview attire is clean and pressed, be confident, professional and polite.
  • Follow-up: At the end of your interview, ask the interviewer how they would prefer for you to follow up. This can be through email, telephone, or mail. Ensure that you send out follow-up material promptly, politely, and professionally. If you are asked a question you do not know the answer to during your interview, send the response to them during the follow-up. This will show the interviewer your aptitude and willingness to find out the answer to questions. 

In order to get through the steps listed above, you need to ensure that you are prepared for the job search. This includes building your resume, filling out your application, dressing for the interview and practicing your answers for the interview.

Read the job description thoroughly. Most company will include a “Gotcha” question or statement in the job postings. These can be things like: “Apply in person only,” “Only applications submitted online will be considered,” ect. Also make sure that the skill set you possess matches the skills the company is looking for. Carelessly applying for every job you find is most likely wasting your efforts and giving employers the impression that you don’t (or can’t) pay attention to the descriptions or are too lazy to take the time to read the description.

Attention to detail and following directions. Answer any questions included in the job description.  Employers can build a “test” into the job description in the form of a question (or two or more), like “In your application, include a description of how you solved a problem like this…”