7 Best Resources for Military Spouse Entrepreneurs

military spouse entrepreneurs

These Resources Can Help You As a Military Spouse Entrepreneur

As a military spouse, you may have had to put your initial career plans on hold due to military life. However, that doesn’t mean you have had to give up your goals altogether. Becoming an entrepreneur can be a way to take your job with you from location to location or allow for you and your spouse to have a plan for after military life. Whatever the reasons, becoming a military spouse entrepreneur can have many benefits.

By going into entrepreneurship you can be your own boss, have the potential for unlimited income, and make a living doing what you love. You can create a positive impact in the world, take your work with you wherever you go, and choose who you will be working with.

Getting started as an entrepreneur can be challenging but you don’t have to go at it alone. There are many resources out there. Here are 7 of them to help you on your journey.

The Rosie Network

The Rosie Network offers entrepreneurial programs and support services for active duty, veterans, and military spouses to help them realize the American dream of owning a small business. Their program, Service2CEO, is free and offers individualized small business training and a mentoring program. They also have Rosie Chapters for military spouses and Warrior Chapters for active duty and veterans.

DAV/Patriot Boot Camp

Patriot Boot Camp offers mentors, educational programming, and a community of experts and peers to help active duty service members, veterans, and military spouses innovate and build impactful businesses. They have both in-person and virtual events.

Bunker Labs

Bunker Labs provides community, programs, and courses to help military veterans and military spouses start as well as grow successful businesses and startups. They offer programs such as Veterans in Residence, which is a business incubator for early-stage startups and growth-oriented small businesses for veterans, military spouses, and military family members.

Boots to Business

Boots to Business is a program offered by SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) as part of the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program. The program offers entrepreneurial education and a training program for transitioning service members and their spouses. They also provide an overview of business ownership.

AMSE

AMSE, (the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs) is a global network for military spouse entrepreneurs. With AMSE, you can sign up as a member and have access to the AMSE Slack channel with over 1,700 members. They also have 15+ monthly digital and live events. The community works together to build ideas, brand collaborations, and to help you work on your businesses.

Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce 

The Military Spouse Chamber of Commerce wants to ensure that all active duty, veteran, and military spouse business owners have the tools and resources that they need to strengthen their families, communities, and our economy. Their membership is free and through it, you can obtain Milspouse-Owned Enterprise Certification. You can also find a mentor, find a job board, and find tools, resources, and advocacy. The membership is for those who are considering starting a business, are already a business owner, work in the gig economy, are freelancers, are self-employed, have a side hustle, or consider themselves entrepreneurial.

LinkedIn Learning 

LinkedIn Learning has 17,000+ expert-led courses where you can earn a certificate when you complete the course. You will need to have LinkedIn Premium to access the courses which you can get for free as a military spouse.

As a military spouse entrepreneur, you want to get the best advice that you can and get off to a good start. These organizations and companies can help.

 

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PCSing With an Established Business

When you have to move your established business for a PCS

As a military spouse small business owner, you are thankful you can take your business with you when you move. However, when those PCS orders come, you can feel a bit of a panic. How will you move the business? What if you are going overseas? What do you need to know?

If your business is already established, you will want to keep things running smoothly during the move. Just taking a few months away from the business isn’t always an option. Here are some things to think about when you PCS with an established business.

Legal

There are legal issues related to moving with a small business. Each state can have its own laws and regulations. This is where you need to do your homework and figure out what the move will mean for you.

If you have an LLC, you will have options between keeping your old LLC and starting a new one, dissolving your old LLC, and starting a new one, to merging your LLC into a new one. For more information on that, visit How to Move Your LLC to Another State.

Become aware of any permits, or licenses you will need in your new area. You will also need to be aware of taxes and what you need to do as a business owner in your new state to be in compliance.

Going Overseas

Moving your small business overseas is not going to be easy and in some cases, you might need to make some difficult choices. You will need to find out if you are allowed to run your business at your duty station and be aware of the laws of the country you are going to be in. Each country that has American troops will have a SOFA agreement that tells you what is allowed and what isn’t.

Even if you do get approval to run your small business, you can’t use your APO for any business-related mail. This can create a lot of stress for people running a small business. You would need to use a local, in-country postal service to stay within the SOFA agreements. Those who break this rule can lose their APO privileges.

There are also rules about not being able to compete with AAFES, and not being able to buy business supplies at the Exchange or Commissary.

These rules and regulations can be complicated and discouraging. The main point is to figure out what the rules are at your duty station and within your host country. This can differ based on what your business is and where you are going to be stationed.

Putting your business on pause

Some small business owners will need to put their business on pause during the actual move. This will depend on if you have employees or assistants that can take over for a time. Notify customers beforehand if there will be a break in service or the ability to order products.

Budgets

You will need to make sure your budget is aligned with the move. There will be extra costs from licenses, to taxes, to purchasing new supplies. If your company is based on local customers, finding a new customer base will take time and that can result in a loss in pay.

Networking

Once you get to your new duty station you will need a plan for networking. See if there are any local small business owner networking groups. Join local groups to get your business out there. This will take time, especially if you feel like you are starting over, but will be worth it once you are able to get connected in your new community.

Moving an established small business can be complicated so it is important to stay organized and make sure you are checking all the boxes. Reach out for help if you need it, and visit Military One Source’s PCS and Military Moves page to help you with all things PCS.

 

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VETtoCEO: Free Business Training for Veterans

VETtoCEO Offers Business Training to Military Veterans

The non-profit organization, VETtoCEO, offers an annual business training program for qualified veterans and active military, to include National Guard and Reserve members.

The program is called Entrepreneurship for Transitioning Warriors and it is a free virtual program that runs for six weeks. The next training iteration will run from May to June 2022.

The VETtoCEO Program

The core program is the Entrepreneurship Training Program. Training is delivered by small business owners who are themselves veterans. This program explores all the different ways that lead to small business ownership, and it is a great course for veterans who are considering whether or not to start a small business.

The Entrepreneurship Training Program core runs for six weeks, one night per week. It covers five essential modules:

  1. Marketing – learn how to conduct market research and develop pricing strategies.
  2. Mission – Determine the 5 W’s of the business and create an elevator pitch.
  3. Execution – Learn about organizational structure issues and legal forms of business.
  4. Logistics: Financial Projections – Learn about financial statements, cash flow, and preparing financial projections.
  5. Command & Signal – Learn why advisors and networking techniques are important.

Participants who complete the course will be able to decide on their business strategy: startup, franchise, or to buy an existing business. A course completion certificate, Edge Up for Funding, will also be awarded. 

The VETtoCEO business training is also a great way to connect with other veteran entrepreneurs, thereby expanding the business network that is essential to succeed.

VETtoCEO Funding Academy

The second course offered by VETtoCEO is the Funding Academy, a three-part program that teaches strategies to help veterans determine the best way to fund their enterprise. This course is not free, as it requires a one-time $500 donation to VETtoCEO in order to participate. Because they’re a non-profit organization, VETtoCEO can’t sell the course to you. However, they can limit access to only donors.

The three parts of the Funding Academy are:

  1. Sources of Capital & Funds – learn how to determine funding requirements, and about debt versus equity sources.
  2. Understanding Financial Terms & Concepts – learn more about debt versus equity and common mistakes in financing.
  3. Developing a Funding Strategy – learn how to develop a funding strategy and how to prioritize funding sources.

Upon completion of the Funding Academy, veterans will have a better understanding of funding and how it impacts their business. Additionally, entrepreneurs will receive introductions to VETtoCEO’s preferred funding partners.

Get Free Business Training

VETtoCEO’s Entrepreneurship for Transitioning Veterans is a great opportunity for service members and veterans to learn about starting and running a small business. Veterans have a natural determination to succeed and many have developed excellent leadership skills while in the service.

To take advantage of VETtoCEO’s free business training, go to their Register page and enter your email address. They will contact you and provide more details about the upcoming courses.

Contacting VETtoCEO

If you need more information, or just have general questions, contact VETtoCEO via email at help@vettoceo.org. Or, call 888.677.2765 to talk to someone about their programs.

For more info on VETtoCEO, please visit their website.

 

 

Veterans Business Outreach Center Program

Veterans Business Outreach Center Program

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a program designed to support veterans who want to start or grow their small businesses. The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program offers business training, counseling, and referrals to other resources that benefit veteran entrepreneurs. Through a cooperative agreement between the SBA and 22 other organizations, transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses can start and grow their businesses.

The military community will benefit from workshops, training, counseling and mentorship opportunities. Additionally, VBOCs guide military entrepreneurs through a vast network of community resources and lenders.

Veterans Business Outreach Center Resources

Transition Assistance Programs

If you’re close to separating from the military, and you already know you want to start your own business, then there is a VBOC program that you need to know about.

Through a program called Boots to Business, VBOCs offer classes to transitioning service members and military spouses. They also have a B2B Reboot class for veterans, which is just an off installation version of Boots to Business.

Pre-Business Plan Workshops

VBOCs host entrepreneurial workshops that cover issues of self-employment. Many veterans who start their own businesses don’t always understand the full scope of that process. There’s more to business than selling a product or service, and these workshops close that knowledge gap.

The best part about this program is that each participant will work directly with a business counselor.

Concept Assessments

So, you have an idea, but you don’t know if it’s business worthy. After applying what you’ve learned in previous workshops, VBOCs assist you in assessing the entrepreneurial concept to identify any needs and requirements necessary for you to succeed.

Business Plan Preparation

Developing a business plan is difficult, but it is the road map to your business’ success. Your local VBOC program will help you develop a five-year business plan.

This planning stage will cover the legal formation of your business, organizational structure, market analysis, and equipment requirements. Financial planning is also fundamental to the plan, and you will learn about financial projections, funding requirements, and budget projections.

Feasibility Analysis

A thorough feasibility analysis can help discover the strengths and weaknesses of your business plan. This step will help develop or refine the strategic planning portion of the business plan.

Entrepreneurial Training & Counseling

The VBOC connects military entrepreneurs to training and counseling sessions that address the specific needs of the veteran business owner. These include service-disabled and women veterans, as well as those veteran entrepreneurs interested in procurement.

Mentorship

Having help from someone who knows what’s going on is a valuable resource. A VBOC mentor can periodically check on your operation to ensure you’re following the business plan. Additionally, they can review monthly financial statements to see if your plan needs to be adjusted.

Other VBOC Programs

Beyond the great offerings above, VBOCs offer training and assistance in arenas like international trade, accounting, and franchising.

The Small Business Administration has an entire office dedicated to veteran-owned businesses. It’s called the Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD). This SBA resource connects you with funding resources and government contracting programs. Military spouses will also find resources at the OVBD.

Local VBOC & Next Steps

Your first task is to get connected to the resources that are available to you as a veteran or military spouse. To connect to a VBOC in your area, enter your zip code to find your nearest program. There are currently nine regions nationwide that manage the Veterans Business Outreach Center programs.

Next, exhaust every training, counseling, and mentorship opportunity. The success or failure of your entrepreneurial dreams could be determined by what you learn in the VBOC program.

Veteran Entrepreneurs Use Bunker Labs

Bunker Labs: Assisting Veterans & Military Spouses to Start Businesses

Bunker Labs is an amazing resource for veteran entrepreneurs. Through like-minded communities and classes, Bunker Labs provides the resources that can help launch a small business or startup.

About Bunker Labs

Bunker Lab launched in 2014 in Chicago, and it wasn’t long before there were other chapters in other cities. These groups were made up of veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs who came together to support each other and share knowledge.

Bunker’s first online class launched in 2015 to teach entrepreneurship to members of the military community. The “Bunker In A Box” allowed everyone to learn from anywhere in the world.

Bunker Lab Communities

Veteran entrepreneurs can choose among three Bunker Labs Programs that are each designed for different stages and aspects of starting a business.

Veterans in Residence

This community is a “business incubator for early-stage startups and growth-oriented small businesses.” It is designed for entrepreneurs who have already launched a business and are looking for ways to grow.

Veterans in Residence is a partnership between Bunker Labs and WeWork, an innovative startup that launched in 2010 and has reimagined the workplace. Two cohorts launch each year, one in January and one in July, and they run six months.

CEO Circle Growth

This great community is for those entrepreneurs who have launched businesses with solid revenue streams that are looking to scale. The CEO Circle is a monthly program designed for company executives.

The CEO Circle allows founders and executives to ask questions about elevating their companies to a higher level. In 2021, there were 43 participants who’s companies averaged nearly $14 million in revenue. There are no limits to industry for those involved.

Ambassador Program

The Ambassador Program is designed for volunteers who want to help small business owners by connecting them to resources they may need.

Local Communities

Currently, there are Bunker Lab Communities in 37 cities around the country. The communities are in major metropolitan areas, and depending on where you are, there’s likely a community a short drive away.

Check out these localities and get plugged in for support as you prepare to launch your business. These communities are composed of other veterans and military spouses who are on the same adventure as you.

Bunker Lab Online Courses

If you don’t know anything about entrepreneurship, then these classes are greatly beneficial. If you don’t know if you have a scalable business idea, then these classes are the way to go.

Launch Lab Online

This is an interactive course that lays the knowledge foundation for starting your own business. These are considered introductory courses and apply to a wide audience of learners.

Finances for Military Founders & Families by USAA

This course covers the basics of money in business. Learn how to set goals and manage the challenges that face entrepreneurs from the military community.

Business Basics Series

This course brings knowledge and tools that help you launch the operations of your business as you engage with your first customers.

Breaking Barriers in Entrepreneurship Workshops

These workshops are designed to assist people in under served communities to launch, grow, and support their businesses.

Raul Deju Institute Program

This program teaches what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. Over the course of eight lectures, students will gain a deeper

Bunker Labs Partnerships

Evidently, this organization hasn’t just been growing since its inception, it has expanded to partner with major players in the business world. This growth only means that there are more opportunities, more resources, and more learning available for entrepreneurs in the military community.

Some of these partners are:

  • USAA
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Macy’s
  • WeWork
  • Ford
  • MetLife Foundation
  • Intuit
  • Gannett Foundation
  • Google for Startups
  • LinkedIn
  • PWC Charitable Foundation, Inc.
  • Robert R. McCormick Foundation

With such heavy-hitting partners, Veterans and military spouses have a ton of support to help them launch their small businesses.

Personal Testament and Conclusion

For instance, I launched my own freelance writing business over a year ago, and Bunker Labs was one of the resources I leaned on to better understand entrepreneurship. While I knew how to write and understood my “business idea”, I had little to no understanding of the business behind the business.

I registered for the online courses where I gained a better understanding of what it takes to run a business. The courses helped me see the other aspects of a writing business that are needed beyond just performing the services I offer.

If you are a veteran or military spouse and you’re thinking about starting a business, I encourage you to check out Bunker Labs. Not only will you learn business fundamentals, but you will learn how to properly refine your business idea.

So, don’t let a lack of knowledge or understanding prevent you from launching your business. Check out Bunker Labs today!

 

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Nation’s Finest: Veteran Support Program

Nation’s Finest is a non-profit organization whose mission it is to support veterans and their families by providing a number of targeted services. Nation’s Finest operates 31 facilities in California, Arizona, and Nevada.

The Nation’s Finest Program

Each year, Nation’s Finest offers veteran support with services tailored to their needs. Some of these programs are:

  • Transitional Housing
  • Case Management
  • Mental Health
  • Employment Services
  • Permanent Housing
  • Mobile Service Units
  • Behavioral Health

These services are designed to meet the needs of as many veterans as possible. Caring and respectful counselors are professionals who are trained to handle every imaginable challenge.

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Transitional Housing

These housing facilities are for homeless veterans who struggle with mental health disorders. Veterans can reside in transitional housing for up to two years.

While in residence, veterans receive employment and training programs, legal assistance, and onsite clinical services as needed.

Case Management

With the assistance of a case manager, veterans in their care develop important and necessary skills to live independently. The case manager is the initial point of contact upon a veteran’s arrival. They will conduct an initial assessment of the veteran’s needs and then help develop a plan.

Each plan depends on the needs of the Veteran, but all of them covers similar areas, such as:

  • Housing needs
  • Employment
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health
  • Medical care
  • Finances
  • Education

The case manager will regularly meet with the veteran to assess any progress made.

Mental Health

The veteran community has endured tremendous trials and stress during their service. It is not uncommon for veterans to struggle with things like depression, PTSD, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Nation’s Finest offers individual and group counseling sessions with licensed therapists at their residential facilities. The clinical approach to mental health care ensures each individual receives the care they need to succeed.

Employment Services

Through partnerships with temp agencies, Nation’s Finest is able to place veterans into jobs that are suited to their goals and qualifications. They then conduct follow-ups with the local employers to ensure the veterans have transitioned successfully.

The case managers are also involved in the employment process, as they assess the issues that may hinder successful employment. Through counseling and mentorship, the case manager seeks to land long-term jobs for veterans in need.

Permanent Housing

Through a subsidiary company, Veterans Housing Development Corporation, Nation’s Finest has more than 300 housing units specifically designed for veterans and their families. This unique approach to veteran support promotes independence and restores dignity for those in great need.

Mobile Service Units

Right now, Nation’s Finest only operates two Mobile Service Units, one in Redding, California and the other in Carson City, Nevada. These units provide services to veterans who live in rural areas, or those who have difficulty traveling to the actual service centers.

These mobile units are basically an office on wheels. They have certified counselors and case managers who can bring a variety of services to these rural veterans.

Behavioral Health

Nation’s Finest operates Behavioral Health Centers (BHCs) that offer a full range of drug and alcohol treatment services. They also have mental health counseling services. Overall, the goal of the BHCs is to provide the coping skills necessary for residents to live sober lives.

Contacting Nation’s Finest

The easiest way to contact them about their services is through one of the two methods:

Nation’s Finest is Headquartered in California at the following address if you’d prefer to write them:

            Nation’s Finest

            2455 Bennett Valley Rd., C105

            Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Furthermore, you can use the contact methods above to donate to Nation’s Finest. Veteran support is not cheap, so monetary gifts are always welcome. They also have a Donation Web Form if you’d prefer that approach.

Our veterans have selflessly served and protected us. I am happy to promote organizations like Nation’s Finest who are proactively helping my veteran family.

 

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Wells Fargo Glide-Relaunch: Military Spouse Internship Program

The military spouse is an oft-overlooked piece of the military puzzle. Every day, thousands of spouses raise families and manage the homefront while their service members defend our great nation. Because of this, many spouses are “unemployed” for many years, which makes reentry into the workforce challenging.

Wells Fargo Glide-Relaunch Program

However, there are some companies who have noticed the plight of the military spouse and have taken steps to help. One such company is Wells Fargo.

The Glide-Relaunch Program is a paid internship-to-full-time program that assists spouses in returning to the workforce after taking a break of at least two years. Participants of this program are granted a significant string of benefits related to well being, financial security, retirement, and work-life balance.

Program Details

This is an 8-week program that offers support, training, and the resources needed to launch a career with Wells Fargo. 

Through structured training given by senior Wells Fargo employees, participants will network with peers and other employees, all while developing skills and knowledge related to financial products and services. 

After the initial training, mentorship and development continue through on-the-job training covering the following areas:

  • Teamwork – participants are exposed to various areas of operations that serve internal and external customers.
  • Professional Support – paired with an experienced Wells Fargo employee, challenging situations will prompt feedback and coaching.
  • Leadership – bank leadership offer insights into industry trends and business objectives.
  • Networking– formal events will be offered periodically, sometime remotely, that will offer great opportunities to network.

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Locations

There are many locations across the nation participating in the Glide program. Offers of internship are specific to locations, the candidate’s interests and experiences.

Upon program completion, the goal of the Glide program is to hire participants who have met the performance expectations into full-time roles with Wells Fargo.

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Qualifications

Qualified applicants must have:

  • BS/BA degree or higher
  • 7+ years of experience
  • Endured a break from employment of over 2 years

If you are selected as a final candidate, there will be a mandatory final round hiring event on July 21-23, 2021. Additionally, you must be able to participate in the full internship from September 13 – November 5, 2021 to be considered for the program.

The application process for the 2021 Glide – Relaunch Program opens on June 9, 2021.

Submit your Intent to Apply to get the ball rolling.

Conclusion

If you are a military spouse and you’re looking to reenter the workforce, this may just be the opportunity that launches your next career. Don’t pass it up!

(Image courtesy of ARTYOORAN via Shutterstock)

 

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Remote Jobs Program For Military Spouses Is Back!

Learn More About the MilSpouse Remote Telework Grant Program

Are you a military spouse working remotely for a small business? Or are you seeking a remote job? Are you a small business that has employees who are military spouses?

If so, this program by the MOAA Foundation, Microsoft, and Hiring Our Heroes, is for you.

The MilSpouse Remote Telework Grant Program is now back, after a pause during 2020. The program is for remote jobs for military spouses.  It’s goal is to help military spouses keep their employment during and after a PCS. 

Oftentimes, military spouses will have to give up a job they love when they PCS. The company they work for might not have the resources for them to work remotely, and this program can help with that. 

The program can take away some of the stress that falls on military spouses during a military move by offering them a workstation that is solely for remote working military spouses. To add to that, this program will also be able to help small businesses that employ military spouses. 

Who can apply for The MilSpouse Remote Telework Grant Program?

This program is open to active duty spouses that are currently employed full-time with a small business. They are also open to small businesses who are looking to retain these spouses on their staff but don’t have the resources or expertise to implement a remote work program or policy. 

It is important to note that this program is for those working CONUS only. 

What is included with the grant?

If you are approved for this grant, you would receive remote work templates, a Microsoft Surface Pro, a docking station with a keyboard and mouse, and antivirus/malware protection. 

The length of the program is one year, but after that year you won’t need to give back the equipment. 

What is required of the military spouse and small business during the one-year period?

  • Will need to show proof of military relationship.
  • Both parties will need to agree to the terms of the agreement. 
  • The grantor will be contacting both parties every three months for a progress report. Both parties will need to respond to surveys and provide progress reports as requested. 
  • The small business will be required to provide tech support.
  • Both parties will make sure that they have secure internet. 
  • Both parties will be responsible for ensuring that the devices that have been provided because of the grant will have antivirus/malware protection and that the software is being updated regularly. 

What happens if a military spouse quits their job or is terminated during the year?

If a military spouse leaves their job or is terminated, all equipment will need to be returned and any change of employment will need to be reported within 30 days. 

How do you apply?

You would need to fill out an application. You can do so here

What if I have more questions?

If you have more questions about this program, head on over to the MOAA website or email, moaaspouse@moaa.org

If you are an active duty military spouse wanting to work remotely, talk to your small business about this program. It can be what is needed to allow you to keep your job across the miles.

 

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5 Military Spouse-Owned Businesses

On Friday, May 7th, 2021, we celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day. We honor the sacrifices and contributions made by military spouses as they support our servicemembers. Moreover, the military spouse plays an integral role during deployments, ship duty, and training exercises, while they manage the homefront in their servicemember’s absence. 

To take this a step further, there are spouses who, in addition to their roles as spouses and parents, they also work and contribute to their household income. As a military spouse, I can attest to the difficulty that comes with managing the home, raising the kids, and still trying to work while my soldier is away.

On this Military Spouse Appreciation Day, we celebrate all military spouses and we honor their sacrifices. Additionally, we highlight five businesses that are owned and operated by a military spouse.

5 Businesses Owned by a Military Spouse

 

Spouse-ly

Monica Fullerton Spouse-ly – Air Force Spouse

An online marketplace to shop a wide variety of handmade products and services created by military spouse & veteran-owned businesses. Think Etsy meets Angie’s List but with all military family-owned businesses.

 

Simply Enchanted Travel

Heather KonigsbauerTravel Consultant – Air Force Spouse

I help busy professionals discover their vacation dreams and turn them into reality with thoughtfully crafted, personalized vacation experiences. It’s all about extraordinary adventures without the stress  and hassle of planning.

Martine a la mode

Martine LeveilleeCloset Stylist – Air Force Spouse

More style, Less waste? It’s possible!  Martine helps women get control of closet clutter, create outfits to find our style, and ensure we are being, and looking, our best everyday while promoting sustainable values.

 

Emily Wish

Crystal KirschmanEmily Wish – Air Force Spouse

Created from tragedy as a beacon of hope, Emily Wish, LLC promises dedication, commitment, and compassionate strength in the healing and recovery from any and all eating disorders.

 

Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life

Julie ProvostSoldier’s Wife, Crazy Life – Army National Guard Spouse

Julie Provost is the owner of Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life, a blog and social media community encouraging military spouses through the more difficult parts of military life, from deployments to anything military life brings.

 

Support Our Military Spouses

These businesses are owned and operated by military spouses from across our armed forces. They not only work hard to keep these businesses running, they also create jobs for others, and support their service members. 

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses owned and operated by a military spouse. They are all worthy of your consideration and support. 

So on this Military Spouse Appreciation Day, check out these businesses, or any of the others around you. Here’s a good start:

If you are a Military Spouse, thank you for all that you do. Without your dedication and support, our military would not be as great as it is today.

If you are a Service Member, please take a moment and thank your spouse for their support. There are a number of ways to show your gratitude, and it only takes a moment.

 

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Freedom Makers: Bringing the Freedom of Employment to Military Spouses

Interview with Freedom Makers: Employment Opportunities for Military Spouses

It is an age-old adage that behind every service member is a spouse or family that supports them. While many in our military are on duty year round, day and night, the same reality exists for their families. 

Military spouses are often left to manage child rearing, home operations, and financial management while their service members serve and defend our great country. Even when the family is together, the spouse is limited on options for personal endeavors like education or meaningful employment. In fact, according to the 2018 Military Family Lifestyle Survey, military spouse unemployment/underemployment remained a top financial obstacle for respondents, with “the likelihood of underemployment for military spouses increasing with the number of military moves.”

Designing flexible employment opportunities that work with the demands of the military lifestyle is a top improvement for military spouse un/underemployment. Military spouse un/underemployment remained the top obstacle to financial security among military family respondents, with the percentage of military spouse respondents who indicated they were unemployed (not employed, but actively seeking work in the past four weeks) increasing to 30% in 2018. 56% of working spouse respondents reported they were underemployed. Frequent relocation was cited as the cause for underemployment.

Indeed, many of us face the burden of underemployment as we try to raise our families and still forge ahead with our vocational desires. All too often, our career aspirations are shelved in order to serve our growing families or prepare for the next military move.

Freedom Makers

What if I were to tell you that there is an organization that can match business owners and entrepreneurs with highly experienced and capable military spouses all over the world?

There is such an organization, and they are known as Freedom Makers. Founded by Laura Renner, an Air Force Academy graduate and Air Force veteran, Freedom Makers consists of military spouses around the world who are qualified and actively seeking virtual work opportunities with these businesses.

The Freedom Makers Interview

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jenny Boyles, Marketing Manager and Freedom Maker Success Manager with Freedom Makers, and she was able to provide exclusive information about this great employment opportunity. Please enjoy the outline of our interview.

Who can become a Freedom Maker?

Military spouses, military family members, and veterans are all welcome to apply for positions with Freedom Makers. 

“We span over the whole country, well, the world because of where people are stationed,” explained Jenny. “The only thing we ask, we make sure that our Freedom Makers have a computer.”

How many Freedom Makers are there?

“So, right now, our database says there are 170. That’s who is receiving our notifications.”

That number is increasing regularly, as there are more and more spouses and veterans signing up to work remotely.

What is the hiring process to become a Freedom Maker?

In the last year, Freedom Makers experienced a 60% growth, which is astounding. Part of their success, in addition to already conducting business online, stems from their hiring process.

“As you can imagine,” Jenny said, “when that kind of growth happens, there is a lot that needs to grow with it.”

When the company was first starting out, there was a lot of interest in what they were doing, but they noticed those spouses who signed up were more curious than anything. 

“The question we weren’t asking was, ‘Are you actively seeking work?’ Because, up to that point, it was okay that we only had a core group that was interested, while the other ones were kind of testing us out.”

Jenny identified three important questions that redefined their hiring process:

  1. Are you a military spouse, a veteran, or a military family member?
  2. Do you have virtual work experience?
  3. Are you actively seeking work?

Once those questions are verified, potential Freedom Makers are guided through the process of creating a profile, filling out forms, and are finally linked in with one of their most important contacts, the Freedom Maker Success Manager (FSM). The FSM connects the Freedom Maker to the community, answers any questions, links them up with training, and helps them land their first client.

“This way, I know every Freedom Maker that comes through our doors, which helps clients,” Jenny explained, who herself was a Freedom Maker and an FSM. “We want people to go after our opportunities. That’s important to us!”

After a spouse applies and is linked in with their FSM, how do they get a client?

Freedom Makers, the company, contracts with small businesses all over the world. Those clients are coming to Freedom Makers to get help with various virtual tasks, which they make available to the Freedom Makers. Individuals then select posted jobs to be considered for these positions, which usually involves an interview between the client and potential virtual assistant.

Once a spouse applies, goes through the vetting process, and completes their profile, they have a conversation with their FSM.

“So, we finish it with a conversation. We have a call. We would never want to put somebody in front of a client that we haven’t talked to,” Jenny stated, as she explained the importance of matching clients with Freedom Makers.

“I’ll ask a couple of questions to make sure they’re a good fit, personality wise. But then, I take them through how they can succeed through Freedom Makers. We have an online, private Facebook community page, where people are asking questions, they’re interacting. It’s becoming more active in the past year. If I have something going on, I’m going to share it on that Facebook page. So, I encourage them to be on that.”

“And then, once we have that conversation, they sign on to our guiding principles, make sure they’re on board with who we are again. Then they sign that document, and then they’re going to receive our opportunities. They’re going to receive our newsletter. They’re in. Then, it’s up to them to go for opportunities and make it what they want to make it.”

Are Freedom Makers 1099 or W-2 workers?

All Freedom Makers are 1099s. 

When asked about why this was an important distinction for Freedom Makers, Jenny explained, “I think it’s important because we’re spread out all over the country, and even the world. And with the transient lifestyle [of the military], I think it would be hard having a W-2 and constantly changing the tax structure. I think if we did the W-2, it would have to be a completely different structure, and the overhead might be insurmountable.”

“I would say look at one of our guiding principles,” she continued. “Freedom. For clients, yes, we say that they can hire us for as little or as much as they want. But the freedom is also for the Freedom Makers, in that, you can work as little or as much as you want.”

How often can a Freedom Maker work?

“So, some of our Freedom Makers have one client and they work 2 hours a month. Some have five clients and they work 40 hours a week.”

“For my story, personally, I joined in 2016 and had never been a virtual assistant. I had a masters in museum administration. What was I going to do? I knew that I was somewhat smart and had been a military spouse. So, I had to sell myself. Fast forward 18 months after getting my first client in 2016, I had nine clients. I was working 40+ hours a week. And then, I launched into getting independent clients. So, Freedom Makers launched me into my own career of virtual assisting.” 

What kind of work can Freedom Makers expect to do?

Freedom Makers are hired to provide virtual assistance. Tasks ranging from social media management, email management, making travel plans, and research opportunities are just a few of the things Freedom Makers do.

“So, our clients are all over the board. We have attorneys. We have web developers that just need client care. We have entrepreneurs and solo-preneurs that are starting think tanks and business mastermind groups. We have a lot of coaches, business coaches,” Jenny declared. “So, all these different types of clients are coming to us for social media management. Someone who can keep those wheels turning while they run their business.”

“There’s also client care. Following up with their clients. We have people that are a complete mess with email and calendar management. So they just need somebody to clean up their calendars, clean up their email inboxes.”

Research is another common task. “Sometimes clients just need to know about travel. Travel research is a popular one. When I was a Freedom Maker,” Jenny smiled, “I researched how to get around Australia through the train system for one of my clients.”

“It just runs a gamut. But, a lot of it is admin based. But then you do have tangents like social media management. Sometimes, the lawyers that we have will even train our Freedom Makers in the more legal-based CRM tools. Project management tools. Some need you to come in and manage a project.”

Cold calling can also be part of a Freedom Makers duties.

What training opportunities are available to Freedom Makers?

“We are now offering a consistent monthly training, where you can get badges that go on your profile. Those are shown to clients. We have Freedom Makers that have maxed out all three badges. You get three stars for each badge. We’re coming up with new ways to let clients know, ‘This is a rockstar!’ So, the training is important to us. It’s going to help us. It’s going to help our clients. But, we want to give that to the military spouses.”

How is training conducted in a virtual environment?

“I offer social media management training. So, anybody can sign up with me, anytime. It’s 45 minutes. We get on a Zoom, I give them a workflow. It’s a workflow as opposed to just a training.”

Jenny not only teaches a Freedom Maker how to do social media management, but she also teaches them how to propose that management to a client.

“This month, we’re just doing a basic, ‘How to Land a Client’, because we have a lot of new Freedom Makers, so we want to help them. Down the road we have just basic things, like WordPress, because a lot of clients just need their blogs updated, so we’re offering an intro. We’re trying to give them all sorts of little training opportunities.”

“Along with the monthly training, we offer ‘popcorn’ training, and these are just videos that we’re popping up on Facebook. It’s going to be [things like], ‘How to Make a Canva’, which is important for social media. Just little five-minute [sessions] … offering a glimpse of what our clients need, how to do it, and [we] try to nurture them through the process.”

What sets Freedom Makers apart from other employment services?

“Our Success Managers. We started out with just having ‘a’ success manager, and her job was to balance both the client’s and the Freedom Maker’s needs. But obviously with our growth, we realized that we were meeting our client’s needs, but we were losing sight of the military spouse. We decided that we were the Chick-Fil-A’s and Southwest Airlines of VA [virtual assistance]. We want to take care of our people. And then, once we take care of our people, that’s going to help our clients as well. So we broke the Success Manager position into Client Success Manager and Freedom Maker Success Manager.”

When Freedom Makers are struggling, not getting hired by clients, or even not applying regularly, the FSMs will reach out and offer all the assistance a Freedom Maker needs to succeed.

“So, I’ve been reaching out and doing emails like that. Touching base with people that continue to go for opportunities and don’t get chosen. So, how can we help their journey? How can I encourage them? How can I help them so they don’t give up? That’s really where we’re at. It’s just keeping track. I think that’s the thing that sets us apart. We fill the gap of insecurity on both sides.”

In less than a minute, describe Freedom Makers.

“So, we are comprised of military spouses that are helping business owners support their businesses remotely, by providing meaningful, flexible work for the military spouses. We do that by nurturing our Freedom Makers, giving them training opportunities, and at the same time, coming alongside these small businesses, partnering with them. Because their success becomes our success. That’s important to us.”

“Another thing I wanted to mention, is that we have a lot of veteran-owned businesses that we support. Everybody loves our mission.”

Conclusion

Indeed. What’s not to love? A company, founded by a veteran, that employs military spouses and veterans, who help clients around the world, many of whom are veteran-owned businesses. That’s my kind of company.

For more information about this amazing opportunity, contact Freedom Makers using info@freedom-makers.com

Join a growing company that focuses more on employment opportunities for military spouses in Virtual Assistance than most other companies out there. 

 

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10 Things Employers Need to Know About Veteran Employees

What Employers Should Know About Their Veteran Employees

As a civilian employer who hires veterans, you might be curious about what to expect. Veterans bring an amazing amount of skills to the workplace. They take what they have learned while in the military and apply that to their civilian jobs. Veterans can be a big asset to any civilian company. 

Some veterans have never worked in the civilian world, having joined the military at a young age. Others have had experience before their time in the military, but many years have passed since that time. 

As an employer, there are things you should know about your veteran employees. Learning more about them will make for a smoother workplace. Here are 10 things that employers should know about their veteran employees.

Top 10 Things Employers Need to Know About Veteran Employees

1) There are some topics veterans might not want to share

There are some topics and questions that you want to stay away from. Something as simple as asking about a specific war experience can be unwanted and uncomfortable for the veteran. It is best for employers to stick to more general questions about military service. Some questions can be seen as offensive, even if it doesn’t seem that way to you. 

2) They can struggle to find the equivalent job in the civilian world

Some jobs in the military don’t exactly translate to civilian jobs. If a veteran has served in the infantry, finding a comparable job can be a bit more difficult than if they served as an MP. Although any job in the military can give the skills veterans need to find a job in their post-military world, finding one that fits exactly can be a bit of a struggle, depending on what the veteran did while serving in the military. 

3) There is plenty of uncertainty 

There are many different reasons why someone leaves the military, from medical reasons to wanting to ETS to pursue something else. Working towards the next step of their life can bring plenty of uncertainty. While in the military, life is very structured, from your paycheck to where you live. Stepping out into a different type of work environment can be hard to do, even if that is the next natural step on their career path. 

4) Veterans are individuals 

America views veterans as heroes, and rightly so, but sometimes that means they are not being viewed as individuals. Veterans are strong and brave, but they are also individual people, with their own goals, dreams, and desires. They want to be accepted into the workforce, and for others to recognize what they bring to their careers, not to be seen as just another veteran. 

5) Directness is important

The military is run in such a way where directness is essential. The chain of command gives the orders, and the soldier complies. There isn’t time to discuss the ins and outs or the whys of everything. You might not understand this, especially if you are in a more casual workplace setting but it is important to remember that this is where the veteran could be coming from. 

6) They might feel unprepared for the transition

Transitioning from the military is a big step, and some veterans might feel unprepared during the process. There might not have been as much time in between an ETS and the start of a new post-military job as they felt they needed. Employers should have an understanding of this and make space for the transition period. 

7) Too many choices can be overwhelming

While serving in the military, service members don’t have a lot of say in how things are going to go. In the civilian world, employees can be given more of a choice. This can be a bit overwhelming at first and is something to keep in mind when hiring a veteran. 

8) They believe in service 

Veterans obviously believe in service. They decided at one time in their life to put on the uniform to serve their country. This type of personality will carry over into the civilian world and into their post-military career. This can be a big plus for the workplace. 

9) They understand and respect leadership

The military runs on leadership. Veterans value this and understand a chain of command. While in the civilian world, leadership may look a little different than it does in the military, know that the veteran respects those in higher positions and will work within those boundaries. 

10) They understand teamwork

Teamwork is a big part of serving in the military. Veterans are very used to working with others to get the job done. They had to be in the military and will be able to take that skill with them into their civilian job. 

The transition from serving in the military to working in the civilian workplace can be challenging. Employers might not totally understand where veterans are coming from or what they have been through but there is plenty of room for understanding one another. 

 

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Veteran Rapid Retraining and Employment Assistance (VRRAP)

New VA Program, Veterans Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP), Now Accepting Applications

New Stimulus Plan Add $386 Million in Training and Employment Assistance for Veterans

The American Rescue Plan of 2021 was signed into law by President Biden on March 11th. In this law, there is $386 million for the Veterans Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP). This new program will be able to offer up to 12 months of training and employment assistance for veterans who are unemployed to enter high-demand occupations. 

Who qualifies for the Veterans Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP)?

Veterans:

  • Must be at least 22 years old but no older than 66 years old. 
  • Must be unemployed because of the covered health emergency.
  • Cannot be eligible to receive educational assistance under Chapter 30, 31, 32,33, or 35 of title 38 or Chapter 1606 of title 10, of the United States Code. 
  • Cannot be enrolled in any federal or state job program.
  • Must not be receiving compensation for a service-connected disability rated totally disabling by reason of unemployability.
  • Cannot be receiving unemployment, including any cash benefit of the CARES Act.

What types of programs are covered by this?

Programs:

  • Approved under Chapter 36, which is the Department of Veterans Affairs Education and Career Counseling program.
  • That do not lead to a bachelors or graduate degree.
  • That are for a high-demand occupation, which is determined by the Commissioner of Labor.
  • Will need to be a high technology program of education that is offered by a qualified provider based on terms of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. 

What do I need to know about the amount of assistance given?

  • Assistance will be paid directly to the educational institution that is offering the program.
  • 50% of the total amount payable will be paid when the eligible veteran begins the program.
  • 25% of the total amount payable will be paid when the eligible veteran completes the program. 
  • 25% of the total amount payable will be paid when the eligible veteran is able to find employment in a field related to the program. 

Is there a housing stipend?

There is. For each month that a veteran is in the program, they will receive MHA (Monthly Housing Allowance) based on attending full or half-time, or through distance learning. This is similar to the Post 9/11 GI Bill and will be based on the same BAH as an E-5 with dependents, based on zip code. 

What else do I need to know about the Veteran Rapid Retraining Program?

  • This assistance can not be transferred to anyone else.
  • No more than 17,250 eligible veterans may receive retraining assistance.
  • Retraining assistance will only be paid up to 21 months after this Act was enacted. 
  • There will be prorated payments for those who did not finish their programs. 

In addition to the money given to this program, the American Rescue Plan of 2021 allocates $17 billion in support of the VA’s nationwide response to the pandemic. This also includes $750 million for both construction grants and payments to state homes to help improve the living conditions of veterans in those facilities and $262 million to reduce the backlog of compensation and pension claims. 

You can read more about what is included in this plan on the US Department of Veterans Affairs website.

High Demand Occupations For Veteran Rapid Retraining and Employment Assistance

As a part of this new plan, the government needs to report on the high demand occupations.  The following are high demand occupations for the Veteran Rapid Retraining and Employment Assistance program.

Management Occupations

  • Chief executives
  • General and operations managers
  • Legislators
  • Marketing managers
  • Sales managers
  • Public relations and fundraising managers
  • Administrative services and facilities

Managers

  • Computer and information systems managers
  • Financial managers
  • Industrial production managers
  • Human resources managers
  • Training and development managers
  • Construction managers
  • Education administrators, all other
  • Architectural and engineering managers
  • Medical and health services managers
  • Natural sciences managers
  • Social and community service managers
  • Emergency management directors
  • Personal service managers, all other; entertainment and recreation managers, except gambling; and managers, all other

Business and Financial Operations Occupations

  • Agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes
  • Buyers and purchasing agents
  • Claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators
  • Compliance officers
  • Cost estimators
  • Human resources specialists
  • Logisticians
  • Management analysts
  • Meeting, convention, and event planners
  • Fundraisers
  • Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists
  • Training and development specialists
  • Market research analysts and marketing specialists
  • Project management specialists and business operations specialists, all other
  • Accountants and auditors
  • Personal financial advisors
  • Financial examiners
  • Credit counselors
  • Loan officers
  • Financial and investment analysts, financial risk specialists, and financial specialists, all other

Computer and Mathematical Occupations

  • Computer systems analysts
  • Information security analysts
  • Computer network support specialists
  • Computer user support specialists
  • Computer network architects
  • Network and computer systems administrators
  • Database administrators and architects
  • Computer programmers
  • Software developers and software quality assurance analysts and testers
  • Web developers and digital interface designers
  • Computer occupations, all other
  • Actuaries
  • Operations research analysts
  • Data scientists and mathematical science occupations, all other

Architecture and Engineering Occupations

  • Cartographers and photogrammetrists
  • Bioengineers and biomedical engineers
  • Chemical engineers
  • Civil engineers
  • Electrical engineers
  • Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors
  • Industrial engineers
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers
  • Engineers, all other
  • Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians
  • Electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians
  • Environmental engineering technologists and technicians

Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations

  • Animal scientists
  • Food scientists and technologists
  • Soil and plant scientists
  • Zoologists and wildlife biologists
  • Conservation scientists
  • Foresters
  • Life scientists, all other
  • Atmospheric and space scientists
  • Chemists
  • Environmental scientists and specialists, including health
  • Geoscientists, except hydrologists and geographers
  • Hydrologists
  • Agricultural and food science technicians
  • Biological technicians
  • Environmental science and protection technicians, including health
  • Geological and hydrologic technicians
  • Social science research assistants
  • Forensic science technicians
  • Life, physical, and social science technicians, all other
  • Occupational health and safety specialists

Community and Social Service Occupations

  • Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors
  • Child, family, and school social workers
  • Social workers, all other
  • Health education specialists
  • Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists
  • Community and social service specialists, all other
  • Clergy
  • Directors, religious activities, and education

Legal Occupations

  • Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators
  • Paralegals and legal assistants

Educational Instruction and Library Occupations

  • Preschool teachers, except special education
  • Kindergarten teachers, except special education
  • Elementary school teachers, except special education
  • Middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education
  • Secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education
  • Special education teachers, preschool
  • Special education teachers, kindergarten and elementary school
  • Special education teachers, secondary school
  • Special education teachers, all other
  • Substitute teachers, short-term
  • Tutors and teachers and instructors, all other
  • Museum technicians and conservators
  • Librarians and media collections specialists
  • Library technicians
  • Teaching assistants, postsecondary
  • Teaching assistants, except postsecondary
  • Educational instruction and library workers, all other

Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations

  • Special effects artists and animators
  • Graphic designers
  • Producers and directors
  • Coaches and scouts
  • Choreographers
  • Public relations specialists
  • Technical writers
  • Writers and authors
  • Interpreters and translators
  • Court reporters and simultaneous captioners
  • Audio and video technicians
  • Sound engineering technicians
  • Camera operators, television, video, and film
  • Film and video editors

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations

  • Dietitians and nutritionists
  • Radiation therapists
  • Recreational therapists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Exercise physiologists
  • Therapists, all other
  • Registered nurses
  • Dental hygienists
  • Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians
  • Cardiovascular technologists and technicians
  • Diagnostic medical sonographers
  • Nuclear medicine technologists
  • Radiologic technologists and technicians
  • Magnetic resonance imaging technologists
  • Emergency medical technicians and paramedics
  • Dietetic technicians
  • Psychiatric technicians
  • Surgical technologists
  • Veterinary technologists and technicians
  • Ophthalmic medical technicians
  • Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses
  • Opticians, dispensing
  • Medical dosimetrists, medical records specialists, and health technologists and technicians, all other
  • Athletic trainers
  • Health information technologists, medical registrars, surgical assistants, and healthcare practitioners and technical workers, all other

Healthcare Support Occupations

  • Nursing assistants
  • Occupational therapy assistants
  • Physical therapist assistants
  • Massage therapists
  • Dental assistants
  • Medical assistants
  • Phlebotomists

Protective Service Occupations

  • First-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers
  • Firefighters
  • Fire inspectors and investigators

Personal Care and Service Occupations

  • Barbers
  • Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists
  • Makeup artists, theatrical and performance
  • Manicurists and pedicurists
  • Skincare specialists

Sales and Related Occupations

  • Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents
  • Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products
  • Sales engineers

Office and Administrative Support Occupations

  • Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
  • Court, municipal, and license clerks
  • Order clerks
  • Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping
  • Statistical assistants

Construction and Extraction Occupations

  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Glaziers
  • Insulation workers, mechanical
  • Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters
  • Reinforcing iron and rebar workers
  • Sheet metal workers
  • Structural iron and steel workers
  • Elevator and escalator installers and repairers
  • Earth drillers, except oil and gas; and explosives workers, ordnance handling experts, and blasters

Installation, maintenance, and Repair Occupations

  • Computer, automated teller, and office machine repairers
  • Radio, cellular, and tower equipmentinstallers and repairers
  • Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers, except line installers
  • Avionics technicians
  • Aircraft mechanics and service technicians
  • Automotive body and related repairers
  • Automotive service technicians and mechanics
  • Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists
  • Mobile heavy equipment mechanics, except engines
  • Recreational vehicle service technicians
  • Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers
  • Industrial machinery mechanics
  • Maintenance workers, machinery
  • Millwrights
  • Telecommunications line installers and repairers
  • Medical equipment repairers
  • Wind turbine service technicians
  • Commercial divers

Production Occupations

  • Machinists
  • Computer numerically controlled tool programmers

Transportation and Material Moving Occupations

  • Airfield operations specialists
  • Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers

 

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Nursing Students: Paid VA Nurse Residency

Paid Nurse Residency at the VA, Part of the VALOR Program

Nursing school is hard, passing the NCLEX is not easy, and working as a nurse is as challenging as it is rewarding. What might be the most difficult years of nursing are the transition years between student nurse and competent nurse.

Better Prepared to Transition From Student to Competent Nurse

The VA Learning Opportunities Residency (VALOR) program supports nurses during these transition years. The program bolsters the training of nursing school by offering additional time to hone clinical skills that are critically important to a successful nursing career. In an interview for the VA, Jessica Crabtree explained that her participation in the VALOR program prepared her as a nursing student for a seamless transition into a full-time nursing role.

Who is eligible for VALOR?

Glenda Fuller, a VALOR program specialist, explained in the Veterans Affairs & Military Medicine Outlook Spring 2020 that nursing students in accredited baccalaureate nursing programs who have completed their junior year and have earned at least a 3.0 GPA are eligible for the program. This unique residency program involves an 800 hour paid internship in a VA healthcare setting.

Where are VALOR programs available?

VALOR program specialist Glenda Fuller further explained that 124 VA-approved healthcare facilities participate in the VALOR program. Most of these facilities are located in urban settings and the programs receive far more applications than available residency slots, two major challenges of the program Fuller added in the same interview.

Search your local VA health care facility website to find out if a VALOR program is available in your area. The application involves navigating USAJOBs.

[Related: 5 Insider Tips for Navigating USAJOBS]

What are the benefits of participating in the VALOR program?

In addition to her positive experience in the program, Jessica Crabtree continues to benefit from VALOR and her nursing career with the VA.

  • Benefits
  • Job Security
  • Student Loan Assistance
  • Career Advancement
  • Continuing Education Opportunities
  • Work in a Nation-Wide system

Crabtree’s positive experience is shared with 98% of VALOR participants, according to program specialist Glenda Fuller in the Veterans Affairs & Military Medicine Outlook Spring 2020.

What does the VALOR program involve?

VALOR is a recruitment program for VA hospitals with great educational and financial benefits for nursing students. According to a 2014 article in the Federal Practitioner, students write personal reflections and participate in frequent debriefing discussions. Additional experiences include working with other disciplines, observing home health visits, experience in different hospital units, evidence-based projects, and earning certifications like advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), the same article outlines.

Why work at the VA?  Top 10 Reasons to Work at the VA

The VA nursing careers website lists the top 10 reasons to work at the VA. These include:

  • The culture is driven by the values of integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence
  • The VA is the largest health care system: over 1,200 facilities
  • Work with cutting-edge and growing technology
  • Support in the form of scholarship programs, tuition reimbursement and student loan repayment programs, and a long list of education and training programs
  • Work-life balance through generous paid days off, sick days, and paid federal holidays
  • High-quality benefits
  • Work on a team of medical professionals focused on caring for veterans
  • Practice nursing in any VA facility with just one license

 

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Fellowship & Career Opportunities at the VA

Presidential Management Fellowship Opportunity at the VA

Have you completed an advanced degree? Are you interested in a career helping veterans?  If your answer to these questions is “yes”, then you should consider applying for the VA’s Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program.

Presidential Management Fellows, an Overview

The PMF is a prestigious leadership development program that spans across the Federal Government and is ideally suited for those holding advanced degrees, and who are at the entry level of their career.

Each year, candidates from a wide variety of academic disciplines compete for these coveted positions. “Candidates have an interest in and a dedication to excellence in the leadership and management of public policies and programs,” states the landing page for the program. The program offers PMFs unique leadership, training, and development opportunities, with the expectation that they will become future leaders of change at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Presidential Management Fellows program falls under the VA Pathways Program.

PMF Program Eligibility & Qualifications

All candidates undergo a rigorous assessment and selection process that measures writing, interpersonal, analytic, and leadership skills. There are multiple steps of the application process, and applicants are highly encouraged to pay close attention to application deadlines.

In general, candidates must be in the process of completing, or have already completed within the past two years, a qualifying advanced degree – masters, law, or doctoral program. The most up-to-date eligibility requirements can be found at www.pmf.gov.

Qualifications vary by individual PMF positions. Job openings are posted online each spring and are available only to PMF finalists and federal employees.

Training and Development

The VA sponsors programs and training forums for all PMFs, with additional training opportunities provided by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other agencies. The training includes 160 hours of formal interactive training, challenging work assignments, and direct feedback on work performance.

As a Presidential Management Fellow, you will create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) for your two-year program, participate in developmental learning opportunities, network with other PMFs, and contribute to the larger mission of the VA, which is to help and care for our nation’s Veterans.

Those who successfully complete the program’s requirements are often eligible for conversion to a full-time position.

Compensation

Okay, up to this point you are probably pretty amped about this opportunity! (I know I am!) But you’re probably wondering, “Will I get paid?”

Yes, all PMFs will receive compensation during their time in the program. Finalists are initially appointed as Fellows at the GS-9, GS-11, or GS-12 grade levels. While actual salaries will vary based on geographic locations, the most current information on the Federal pay scale can be found at the OPM Salary Table website.

PMFs are also eligible for promotion while in the program. So you may start out at one pay grade and advance along the scale within that pay grade; or you may even jump from one pay grade (GS-9) to a higher pay grade (GS-11). Promotions for Fellows are determined by the policies and criteria of the employing agency, the VA in this case.

Benefits

As a Presidential Management Fellow, you will have most of the same benefits available to federal employees. Some of these benefits include:

  • Insurance plans
    • Health
    • Life
    • Dental/Vision
    • Long Term Care
    • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Tax-deferred Thrift Savings Plan
  • Transit Subsidy
  • Paid Holidays
  • Flexible Work Hours
  • Leave/Paid time off
  • Employee Assistance Program

More information for New/Prospective Employees and the Thrift Savings Plan.

Student Loan Repayment

Participating agencies may offer Finalists and Fellows various student loan programs. You should ask the agency about the program they offer.

In general, Federal agencies are authorized to repay student loans under the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program. The amount paid by the agency is subject to the following maximum limits:

  1. $10,000 per employee, per calendar year
  2. $60,000 in total, per employee

Finalists accepting appointments as Fellows are eligible to receive student loan repayment; but again they are agency specific, and the VA is just one agency participating in the PMF program.

Here’s more information about OPM’s Federal Student Loan Repayment Program.

How to Apply

The PMF application process is refined from year to year, but it is highly structured and very thorough. The PMF website contains the details on the current application process.

Again, pay attention to those application deadlines. The 2021 finalists were just announced a few days ago. The next application window is expected to open in the spring of 2021, just a few months away.

So, if you hold an advanced degree, or are currently in a graduate program, then now is the time to begin preparing your application to the VA’s Presidential Fellows Program.

Good luck!

(Image courtesy of D. Shironosov via 123rf.com)

 

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3 Big Military Spouse Professional Advocacy Networks

Advocacy Networks for Military Spouse Professionals

Advocacy – a seemingly abstract concept – is something that military spouses with professional careers should understand and practice. It involves navigating roadblocks, barriers, or downright dead ends in a professional career. Fortunately, tons of advocacy groups are on a mission to help military spouses break through these barriers.  In addition they seek to help military spouses learn skills to advocate for themselves.  Learn more about these military spouse professional advocacy groups.

What is Advocacy?

Advocacy involves action – sometimes as simple as speaking up or saying no to something– that has the potential to influence change. An advocate is the person or group of people doing the action. These sections focus on self and professional advocacy.

Professional Careers and Military Spouses

There are over 600,000 active-duty military spouses. They are highly skilled, educated, and qualified for employment. However, frequent relocations and deployments can negatively impact employment status. This translates to underemployment and significant income loss at alarming rates when comparing military spouses to their civilian counterparts. According to the Women’s Bureau:

  •     Unemployment rate among military spouses is 3 times higher than the national rate
  •     89% have some college education; 30% have a bachelor’s degree; 15% have an advanced degree
  •     34% of military spouses work in occupations that require licenses and transferring licenses from state to state can be complex and delay securing employment after a PCS

Familiar and frustrating, isn’t it?

How Military Spouses Can Practice Self-Advocacy

From taking advantage of free resume writing services to writing legislators, there are many ways that military spouses can practice self-advocacy related to a professional career.

Know your resources. The list of professional networks, employment support services, and education resources for military spouses is long. A strong professional network is a great jumping-off point for figuring out exactly what resources you have. Find out what resources are available to you and utilize them.

Understand your barriers. You may encounter nothing but roadblocks and dead ends when transferring a license, securing employment, or even finding job vacancies. Writing out a list of barriers and brainstorming what can be done about them is a useful exercise. This may also help find a path of least resistance to employment.

Participate. If you are a military spouse, you’ve probably been asked to fill out surveys. Did you participate? One of the simplest ways to practice self-advocacy is to tell your story to the organizations that offer support.

Know that change takes time. Change can involve lengthy processes. Just like it takes time to transfer a license and career to another state, it takes time for advocacy efforts to produce change.

Defense State Liaison Office

The Defense-State Liaison Office works to provide state-level policymakers with insight on significant issues faced by military families. Communicate with your liaison about issues that you are experiencing. From their website, you can track 10 key issues including:

  •     Initiatives to improve military spouse licensure portability by eliminating barriers and establishing licensure compacts
  •     Removing burdensome certification requirements for military spouse teachers
  •     Improve support for higher education by sustaining in-state tuition for military dependents

Spouse Ambassador Network

The Spouse Ambassador Network is a network of 25 organizations affiliated with the Military Spouse Employment Partnership who work together to raise awareness of military spouse education and employment resources. Member organizations that advocate for military spouses include:

  •     Navy League of the United States
  •     National Military Family Association
  •     Military Spouse of the Year
  •     Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
  •     Family Readiness
  •     Military Officers Association of America
  •     The Rosie Network
  •     Blue Star Families
  •     The MILSPO Project
  •     Veteran Staffing Network
  •     Chris Kyle Frog Foundation
  •     Hiring Our Heroes
  •     Military Spouse JD Network
  •     Military Spouse Advocacy Network
  •     United Service Organization
  •     Board of Veteran’s Appeals

Women’s Bureau

The majority of military spouses are women. The US Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau advocates through collaboration with organizations to increase employment opportunities for military spouses. Through collaboration, the Women’s Bureau launched the Military Spouse Interstate License Recognition Options interactive map. This provides valuable information for military spouses navigating a state to state professional license transfer.

 

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USO Transition Program & 3 Tips for Transition Success

USO Transition Program & 3 Tips for Transition Success

The USO Transition Program connects service members and military spouses with over 40,000 resources. A Transition Specialist works closely with service members and promotes smooth transitions from active duty service into civilian communities. The USO Pathfinder Transition Program is will soon be renamed the USO Transition Program.

Since 1941, the United Service Organization (USO) has organized countless support programs for service members and their families. These programs support the USO’s mission to strengthen service members by keeping them connected to their families, homes, and country throughout their service.

The USO Transition Program extends 12 months beyond separation from service. The 200,000 service members who transition into civilian communities each year receive meaningful support through the program.

Keri is a USO Transition Specialist who shares her wisdom about the program and the transition process. She describes herself as a “connector” and an “accountability partner.” She explains that separating from service often means planning your own missions instead of functioning within already defined goals and tasks. Read on for more great info and advice from Keri!

USO Transition Program Services

The USO Transition Program creates new opportunities, connects people to resources, and provides support in many areas.

  • Employment and Career
  • Education
  • Financial Readiness
  • Mentorship
  • Access to Benefits
  • Family Support
  • Buying a Home

Eligibility

Military spouses are eligible for the program at any time during the service member’s active duty career. Service members are eligible 12 months prior to and 12 months after separation from service. Although they are based in the United States, eligible participants can take participate from anywhere in the world.

Keri explains that the USO Transition Program functions as an extension of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). USO Transition Specialists often work together with TAP and serve as a valuable follow-up for anything the service member learned during the TAP process.

Utilize the USO Transition Program

The process is becoming more streamlined. First register. This takes only a couple minutes. A Transition Specialist will follow-up within a short period of time, usually less than 1 business day.

Complete a Get Centered Interview with a Transition Specialist. This interview is an opportunity for you to explain your personal future plans and goals. Although all Transition Specialists format the interview differently, Keri works with you to evaluate your current status, desired status, obstacles, and cost of inaction. This model helps people set goals and develop a plan to reach them.

Transition Specialists can help you figure out your “why,” set goals, and form ideas about your future if you haven’t yet pinned them down.

Based on this interview, the Transition Specialist builds a personalized Action Plan – similar to a list of things to do to achieve your goals. Transition Specialists follow-up with you on a regular basis to continue supporting your plan. Action Plans, of course, work best when they are referred to often. Track your progress easily on the USO Mobile App.

What does a Transition Specialist Do?

Reflecting on her professional background, Keri says “I am a connector.” Navigating complex situations is her forte. This is clear as she describes her drive for helping others set and achieve their goals. Whether you need resources to pay for your dreams, support financing a home, or a resume writing service – a Transition Specialist will point you in the right direction.

Transition Specialists do not routinely ask for personal documents beyond verifying a military ID. They support you by developing an Action Plan and connecting you with resources that help you meet your goals. They can be outrageously valuable members of your network.

RELATED: How Veterans Can Grow Their Professional Networks

Tips for Transition Success

Keri shares stellar advice for transition success.

Plan Early

Ideally, everyone would separate from the military debt-free and with a bachelor’s degree. This requires planning, forethought, and understanding the processes involved in getting there.

Start with a plan.

Refer Back to Your Plan

Your plan for achieving your personal goals should drive your success. A seamless plan, however, isn’t useful unless you refer back to it. Referring back to your plan helps keep you on track in meeting your goals. Know that you can always make changes – it’s your plan!

Refer to it often.

Use Your Resources

It can be overwhelming to move from an active duty environment to the (often more autonomous) civilian world. Sifting through the 40,000 resources available to you can also be overwhelming. Delegate this task to a Transition Specialist. It may also be helpful to shift your thinking from “asking for help” to “utilizing resources,” which are both excellent tactics.

Improve as you learn.

USO Virtual Events

The USO offers a long list of virtual events. Check them out to get a feel for what the USO Transition Program offers. Some events include:

  • Mastering LinkedIn Webinar
  • Transition Talk
  • Virtual VA Home Loan Workshop
  • Cyber Apprenticeship Info Session

 

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The VA’s Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Program

VETERAN ENTREPRENEURS: HAVE YOU CHECKED OUT THE VA’S OFFICE OF SMALL AND DISADVANTAGED BUSINESS UTILIZATION YET?

The VA continually finds ways to support veterans in various avenues of their lives. Veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners have access to many resources online such as interactive tools, videos, webinars, and other resources. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization understands how important these resources can be for helping Veteran small business owners maintain and grow their businesses.

VETERAN ENTREPRENEUR PORTAL (VEP)

VEP gives you direct access to resources you need to help guide you through entrepreneurship. These resources are designed for step-by-step guidance to save you time. VEP offers access to federal resources and services from multiple agencies to quickly get you access to business best practices and other important information. Visit the VEP website to access these valuable resources.

VEP TOOLS AND RESOURCES 

Training and Employment Programs – This is a training and employment program for transitioning military members looking to start civilian employment.

Franchising Opportunities – If you are interested in franchising check out their list of franchising opportunities available to Veterans.

Start a Business – Connects you to resources specific to your small business goals with information on how to start a business.

Access Financing – Helps you find financing resources to develop or grow your small business. Also, find financial resources to help you start a small business.

Grow Your Business – Offers subject-specific information and resources on how to expand your small business.

Corporate Connections – This is a tool to help Veteran small business owners handle internal growth and other internal business activities.

Direct Access Program – Interactive resource tool that allows you to network and establish potential partnerships. Use the VA Direct Access events to further meet your business needs.

Resources for Veterans – Utilize programs designed to help Veteran small business owners as well as services that are available to aid in your small business goals.

How to do Business with Federal Agencies – If your small business wants to seek federal contracts these resources will help teach you how your small business can access these opportunities.

Doing Business with VA – Take advantage of the VA Small and Veteran Business Program and gain information and resources on government procurements and subcontracting.

Vets First Verification Program – VA Set-asides are a huge advantage for Veteran-owned small businesses seeking federal contracts. Become VA Verified to gain a competitive advantage.

Find Opportunities – Understand the government contracting programs that are available to veterans and find federal contracting opportunities that match your business.

Strategic Outreach and Communications – An interactive resource that allows you the ability to network with the VA and other federal agencies you might want to do business with. Information and resources on doing business with federal agencies are also provided.

SMALL BUSINESS LIAISONS (SBL)

Small Business Liaisons are a great tool to use if you need one-on-one guidance or advice

regarding doing business with the VA. They have offices across the country. Find an office near you. 

VERIFICATION ASSISTANCE COUNSELORS

Counselors are trained to provide application assistance to Small and Disadvantaged Business Veteran-owned small businesses and veteran-owned small businesses. If you need assistance call counselors, that are located in the state where your business is either licenses or permitted.

There are many advantages to owning your own business as a Veteran and with the recourses provided by the VA with unlimited access to learning sessions and multiple agency resources, you can grow your business internally and externally, allowing you to conquer your small business and entrepreneurial goals.

 

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Top Franchises for Veterans

The Top Franchises for Veterans

One out of every seven franchises is owned by a veteran. From planning and communication to problem solving and leadership, veterans make some of the best franchise owners because of their knowledge, skills and experience gained in uniform. The best franchises for veterans offer discounts and special pricing along with dedicated support to their veteran franchisees.

1 out of every 7 franchises is owned by a veteran.

How Do Franchises Work?

Franchises, also called chains, are hybrid business models combining entrepreneurial freedom and corporate structure.

According to the VA, there are two types of franchises. With product/trade name franchising, a franchisor owns a name or trademark and sells it to the franchisee. For example, a veteran franchisee owns a business that sells a branded product, like tools, household appliances or vehicles.

Veterans with a business format franchise might own a restaurant, hotel or a business to business (B2B) company. The veteran would buy not only rights to sell a product, but also the franchisor’s business system and services. The business format franchise is the most common type of veteran-owned franchise.

What Are the Best Franchises for Veterans?

There are franchise opportunities for veterans across many sectors: automotive, home décor, restaurants, hair salons, elder care, shipping, hardware, and more.

The best franchises for veterans offer more than just discounts. They have good name recognition, products or services in high demand, low competition in a geographic area, offer strong training and support systems, and are backed by a reliable parent company that actively recruits veterans as franchisees because of their unique experience and work ethic.

List of Top Franchises for Veterans

Many franchise companies offer veterans a 10 – 20% discount off initial franchise fees.  However, these highly rated franchises for veterans offer a 30% or more discount off their initial franchise fee. Some provide additional benefits to veterans starting out with their franchise.

Auntie Anne’s Soft Pretzels

Auntie Anne’s consistently lands in the top of food franchise rankings. They offer a variety of venue options for franchisees, from the traditional mall and airport locations to food trucks and street side locations. Veterans pay a reduced initial franchise fee of $20,000 for any location they open.

RELATED: Veteran Friendly Food Franchise Opportunities

Biggby Coffee

The fastest growing coffee chain in the U.S. is passionate about happy customers and community engagement, while bringing a casual, laid back vibe to the coffee shop experience. After starting in Michigan, Biggby’s gourmet coffee and specialty beverage locations are expanding across the nation. Qualified veterans receive 50% off the initial franchise fee.

Charleys Philly Steaks

The #1 Cheesesteak franchise in the world has been franchising for about 30 years. One of the metrics of their success is how often current franchise owners re-invest in new locations. Most of their franchisees start with no food service experience. Qualified veterans receive 50% off the initial franchise fee of $24,500.

Cinnabon

The world famous cinnamon roll franchise has over 850 locations across the globe and continues to grow. Cinnabon offers a variety of venue formats, including a full bakery, an express bakery and co-brand opportunities. Qualified veterans receive a $10,000 discount off the regular initial franchise fee of $30,000.

Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc.

Dale Carnegie Training started in 1912. Today, the Dale Carnegie & Associates franchise delivers corporate training services in workplace learning and professional development to businesses of all sizes and individuals across the globe. Veterans receive 50% off the initial franchise fee.

Express Employment Professionals

Express Employment franchisees help local businesses find qualified employees, and help their neighbors find meaningful work. This #1 staffing franchise has over 850 locations across the U.S., Canada and South Africa and continues to grow. Veterans receive 50% off the initial franchise fee.

Fast Signs

The #1 leader in the $29 billion sign industry, Fast Signs specializes in providing visuals to businesses like interior decor, promotional products, printing mailers, digital signage, and exhibits. Actively recruiting veterans, 10% of Fast Signs franchise owners are veterans. Veterans can get 50% off the initial franchise fee and receive additional benefits as franchise owners.

Moe’s Southwest Grill

Combining a fast, made to order, Southwest themed menu with a casual attitude and fresh food theater, Moe’s offers U.S. and international franchise opportunities. The franchise has taken full advantage of the growth in off premise revenue streams and is positioned for continued growth.  Veterans receive $10,000 of the standard initial franchise fee of $30,000.

Pirtek

This industry leading franchise meets the nonstop industrial demand for hydraulic and industrial hose replacement services.  Pirtek offers 2 franchise options for a potential franchisee, either a storefront with a mobile fleet, or a single Mobile Sales & Service unit. Pirtek offers 30% off the initial franchise fee to qualified veterans.

The Cleaning Authority

The largest residential cleaning company in the market, The Cleaning Authority franchises offer their customers full service home cleaning using environmentally friendly products. The Cleaning Authority offers 2 franchise formats based on territory size and franchisee budget. They give qualified U.S. and Canadian veterans 30% off initial franchise and territory fees.

The Maids

One of the largest domestic cleaning companies in the U.S. and Canada, top ranked The Maids franchise has offered residential deep cleaning to their clients for over 40 years. Franchisees don’t need to have residential cleaning experience. Veterans receive $4,000 off the regular initial franchise fee of $10,000.

The UPS Store

More than 200 veterans own more than 300 The UPS Store franchises nationwide. This top ranked franchise for veterans has been the #1 postal and business services franchise in the U.S. for decades. Qualified veterans get $10,000 off the franchise fee. This includes 50% off the initial application fee.

RELATED: The UPS Store Waives Franchise Fee for Veterans For Limited Time

Tropical Smoothie Café

With a menu combining smoothies and food to meet the growing demand for healthy and fresh fast food, Tropical Smoothie Café franchises are one of the fastest growing food franchises in the U.S. Franchisees have multiple revenue streams: dine-in, drive-thru, delivery, and catering. Veterans get 50% off the regular initial franchise fee of $30,000, and pay a reduced price of $15,000 for additional properties.

Ziebart

The auto appearance and protection franchise, Ziebart, started in 1962. Products have been expanding with the times and now include bed liners, auto wraps, and more. Zeibart now has locations in 32 countries and the average length of franchise ownership is 26 years. Veterans pay no initial franchise fee through Ziebart’s veterans Assistance Program.

 

The best franchise ownership opportunities for veterans give veterans and transitioning service members another path to the American Dream. These exclusive franchises help veterans build on skills and experience from their time in uniform, and allow them to continue to support the country through community engagement and employment opportunities. Top rated franchises welcome the skills and experience that veterans bring to their businesses and smooth the process for them in many ways.

 

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How Being On Time Can Impact Your Networking and Civilian Career

Isn’t Punctuality Part of the Veteran DNA?

Our time is valuable.

I am writing this post while sitting alone at a fantastic local brewery. It’s currently 4:16, and my 4:00 appointment still has not arrived. At this point, it’s probably better if he doesn’t show up at all. And this guy is a veteran, too. Shouldn’t he know better? Isn’t punctuality part of the veteran DNA? I can’t help but reflect upon the importance of punctuality. In your civilian career, networking will be one of your most important tools, and your reputation within your network is built on your integrity and reliability.

Early Is On Time

When you make a commitment, your word is on the line. It is imperative that you are where you say you’re going to be when you say you’ll be there. As a professional, garnering notoriety as someone who doesn’t follow through on promises is a killer. Plan your travel time in advance, and bank on every possible worst-case scenario. Bring along some work to do in your car in case you are early. If you’re doing it right you will be early often, so plan ahead to use your time effectively.

Always Confirm Your Appointments

Reaching out to your contact approximately 24 hours prior to your meeting will significantly reduce your chance of being stood up or the victim of a miscommunication. Leave your cell phone number so they can get in touch if something comes up:

“Hi ______, I’m looking forward to our connection at Starbucks tomorrow. If anything changes, please call or text me at 555-555-1234. Feel free to reply with your cell # just in case. See you then!”

In my experience, Monday morning meetings are the most likely to be forgotten, so don’t forget to take a few minutes on Sunday to send out confirmations. Friday afternoons are by far the most often rescheduled. Imagine that. In fact, you may be better off if you are able to avoid scheduling meetings at those times at all.

If Your Connection Is Late

Yes, your time is valuable, but be empathetic. Life happens. From a networking perspective, you gain absolutely nothing from lecturing your contact or displaying/expressing your frustrations. I have a colleague that once sent a salty email after being stood up, only to find his contact had gotten into a serious car accident. You never know what someone is going through. Your grace in this situation may well earn you someone’s trust or loyalty, and many people will go out of their way to reschedule and be there with bells on. Reassure your contact with something like, “Hey, I assume something came up, so I’m going to head out. No worries! When can we reschedule?” If they are a no-show for a second appointment feel free to move on, but still, forego the lecture.

If You Are Late

First, don’t be late. Do absolutely everything in your power to prevent it. If something happens that precludes you from arriving on time, get in touch with your contact ASAP. Flat tire? Traffic jam? Call or text as soon as you know you’ll be late, with as much advance notice as is possible. Be considerate and offer to reschedule if your tardiness will put you there more than 15 minutes late. The exception here is if you are in a major incident of some kind. Take care of yourself (and others) first and explain once everything is under control. 

I once completely missed a meeting due to a tech issue with my calendar. There I was, sitting carefree at my desk when I received an email that read, “Adam. It’s 9:35 AM, and I’ve been waiting here since 9:00 AM. I’m assuming I won’t be seeing you today.” That was it. Ouch. I was mortified. The best thing you can do at that point is sincerely apologize, explain briefly (but don’t make excuses), and humbly request another chance. During your apology, make sure to indicate that you know how valuable their time is.

Relax, Folks

I have to admit that in addition to being annoyed about today’s missed meeting, I was also a bit disappointed. He never showed up nor contacted me, so I hope everything is alright on his end.  If this happens to you (which it will eventually), don’t waste too much energy brooding over it.

On the bright side, I was able to catch up with one of the owners of the brewery (who is a terrific dude), get some work done, enjoy the beautiful weather, and write this post. Though I need a reminder myself sometimes, it’s always best to focus on the positives of any given situation.

 

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Burning Bridges: How to Leave the Military Like a Real Professional

Burning Bridges: How to Leave the Military Like a Real Professional

When I was a young airman, an NCO told me that on her retirement day she planned to drive off base with her middle finger in the air. She added that she would be using her other hand to smoke a joint. Around the same time I witnessed a respected SNCO retire after 28 years of honorable service openly weeping, partly because he was proud of his service and accomplishments, but mostly because he simply did not want to go. He would’ve stayed in the service his whole life if he could have.

It is hard to explain to those who haven’t yet separated or retired from the military how it feels to depart. Being a service member becomes so ingrained into our identities and routines that the prospect of transitioning out of the service can be a serious upheaval. This can manifest in vastly different ways from veteran to veteran as he/she approaches the fateful day: one may fantasize about rendering a one-fingered salute, one may be broken-hearted, and yet another may be terrified by the uncertainty and change that lies ahead.

Why Not The “Middle Finger Plan”?

If you are about to separate or retire, keep one thing in mind: however you may be feeling about it is all right. It’s also totally acceptable to feel more than one feeling about it at the same time. The middle-finger plan is not necessarily advisable, but if you are more than ready to hit the road, I don’t begrudge you the daydream. True professionals won’t follow through on that fantasy, however. Also, keep in mind that you may actually get out and be surprised to realize that there are things you truly miss about the military.

Avoid Burning Bridges When Leaving the Military

So, whether you’re tap dancing toward the exit or scared beyond explanation, you should make an effort to split as gracefully and professionally as possible.

Here’s why you shouldn’t burn bridges:

You never know when you will see, work with, or work for your current military leaders and colleagues again. 

Want to give your duty sergeant or commander a piece of your mind before you head out the door? I would think twice. Nobody will respond to your departing tirade with, “You know what, you’re right!” In fact, your unit, base, and service branch will go right on humming along without you after you go. I’m not saying you weren’t a valuable piece of the puzzle, but the military is built to sustain operations while constantly losing and gaining members.

Besides, that brand of negativity won’t do you any good. Keeping your cool feels a lot better in the long run. If you have genuine concerns or suggestions that are said in the context of wanting to leave things better than you found them, proceed with caution and tact. A good rule of thumb is if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

It does not feel good to run into someone (in person or online) that you’ve burned a bridge with, no matter how far down the road. And it will happen with more regularity than you expect.

Your Future Employment May Depend On It

Your first civilian job may require 3-5 quality letters of recommendation from former superiors or bosses, and it would be awkward to ask for one after telling your boss to take a flying leap. If you leave on a high note by ensuring continuity with those taking over for you, taking care of loose ends, cleaning your work area and locker, and maintaining a cheerful attitude, you could land an epic letter of recommendation — one that could even get you a higher-paying gig. There are potentially more than just letters of recommendation on the line, though. In fact, I know a service member that needed a former commander to testify for him in court.

For those of you separating, a shockingly large percentage of you will eventually want to come back to the military in a Guard or Reserve capacity or fulfill a contracted civilian position on a base, even if it is the furthest thing from your mind right now. I have a colleague that left active duty on extremely tenuous terms, then later desperately wanted to join the Guard. He was eventually able to make his way in, but it took over a year of onerous work and almost didn’t happen at all.

Your Personal Brand May Suffer

I’ll bet most of your leadership is on LinkedIn, and you absolutely should be, too. Accordingly, your network reputation and professional equity do not exist in a bubble. You will never be able to outrun a bad professional reputation. By leaving others with a sour taste in their mouths, you could damage your network and personal brand worldwide. On the other hand, leaders that are left with a positive feeling will endorse your skills, write recommendations, “like” and comment on your posts, and joyfully connect you with other professionals. Remember, good reputations can spread like wildfire, as can bad ones — think carefully about what you want people to be saying about you after you leave.

 

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Veteran-Friendly Food Franchise Opportunities

Franchise Opportunities for Veterans in the Food Industry

Cooks are the unsung heroes of the military. Without Mess Specialists and Culinary Specialists providing food and rations to the troops and sailors the volunteers in the armed forces would be stuck eating MREs and ramen noodles for the length of their military careers. Those who have served their country by serving their fellow servicemember may consider looking to private industry to put their talents to work for them. Those with more management and administrative skills will be perfect candidates for franchise options. Below is a list of a few restaurants that offer financial incentives to veterans for franchise opportunities in the food industry.

List of Veteran-Friendly Food Franchises

Moe’s Southwest Grill

Moe’s claims an average of over $1.5 million in average net sales per year and won the 2017 “Brand of the Year – Fast Casual Mexican Restaurant.” The restaurant also landed at number 170 on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2019 list of the 500 best franchises. It is obvious there is success to be had at Moe’s and veterans can take advantage of a $10,000 discount on the initial franchise fee of $30,000. That is a 33% savings!

Qdoba Mexican Grill

Qdoba opened its first restaurant in 1995 and have grown to over 700 facilities. The brand is strong and has 25 years of marketing power behind it. The licensing fee is $30,000 over a ten-year term. However, veterans receive a 20% discount. The fee from former military members becomes $24,000.

Schlotzsky’s

This Austin, Texas staple has been around since 1971 and has expanded to over 300 locations. Their footprint covers almost every state below the Mason-Dixon Line, but the restaurant lacks presence in the Northeast. The company ranked 349 on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2019 list of the 500 best franchises. Veterans receive $10,000 of the initial $30,000 franchise fee, or $37,500 if including a Cinnabon.

Schlotzsky’s parent company is Focus Brands, a company that also represents Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, Carvel, Jamba, McAllister’s, and Moe’s.

Philadelphia Pretzel Factory

The author’s personal favorite food is available as a franchise with a veterans discount of $1,776 off of the initial fee of $35,000. Philadelphia Pretzel Factory boasts a small, but tasty menu and as anyone who has ever eaten a soft pretzel knows, there’s always room for more. The company started franchising in 2004 and claims 45% of their franchisees run multiple locations, so there is satisfaction and longevity within the ranks.

Honey Baked Ham Company

A staple of some Midwestern states, the Michigan based Honey Baked Ham Company sells hams, turkeys, and roasts for all special occasions. They also provide a lunch menu for people looking for a quick bite while out running errands. The family-owned company has been in business since the 1950s and has expanded their franchise empire to nearly 500 locations. Market opportunities exist in every state except California which has an abundance of storefronts operating. The average annual net sales for the franchises run a hair over $746,000.

The start-up fee for a Honey Baked Ham Company location is $30,000, but comes with a significant 33% discount ($10,000) for qualified veterans.

 

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5 Tips for Military Spouses: Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

For Military Spouses: How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

Military spouses can leverage the power of LinkedIn to achieve professional goals amidst the unique challenges they face. A strong network is a critical tool for spouses navigating frequent deployments, PCSs, and other unexpected professional hurdles while simultaneously juggling a career.

Natalia, a Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Professional Network (MSPN) Chapter Lead in Stuttgart, eloquently explains the value of a LinkedIn Profile for military spouses:

 

“It provides a platform for you to control your professional narrative.

It helps spouses turn the patchwork of their careers into a quilt.”

 

The MSPN is part of Hiring Our Heroes, a nationwide U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation initiative. Hiring Our Heroes seeks to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment. According to MSPN, 80% of jobs are filled by referral. For military spouses rewriting their career narratives with each PCS, a strong network is necessary.

RELATED: Hiring Our Heroes: Overview of Programs

Acquired by Microsoft in 2016, LinkedIn boasts a network of over 700 million members spanning 200 countries. Capitalize on this expansive network by optimizing your profile. Read on for profile tips and how military spouses can upgrade to LinkedIn Premium for free.

Tell a Story

Pictures are the first thing visitors see on your profile. A profile picture should be professional. Natalia explains that not uploading a profile picture isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. Some companies de-identify profiles by removing names and pictures before evaluating candidates. The profile and background photos can give a great first impression, and other companies actually prefer photos.

The headline and about sections introduce you professionally. Think of these sections as your elevator pitch, a brief description of your skills set that effectively answers the question “What do you do?” and “What do you want to do?” It should last just 20-30 seconds, or the length of an elevator ride and leave a lasting impression.

Rethink Your Experience

At first glance, military spouses cringe at the chaotic web of experience they have collected and the huge gaps that exist between employment. When asked to list experience, many tend to think only of formal paid experience. Natalia lists volunteer work, education, and projects as significant experience that should be listed on a profile. This type of experience shows community engagement, personal initiative, and a commitment to lifelong learning. Rethink your experience and those resume gaps might not be so big. Natalia also recommends asking contacts to endorse specific skills, further highlighting your professional abilities.

Utilize Direct Links

Direct links to a project you worked on, an award you received, or something you wrote further validates your experience. Paid or unpaid, linking directly to a webpage increases your visibility.

Engage

Links to your own work are just one way to engage. Natalia describes that people can engage with other people, with companies, or with entire industries. She recommends following leaders in your industry, posting content regularly, and using it as a tool to keep up with new information in an industry.

Natalia also shares that extending congratulations via LinkedIn or reaching out for a mentor can be advantageous during an interview. A hiring manager can see that you’ve followed them and engaged with an industry. Engaging and networking with others purposefully can transform the platform into a far more useful tool for strengthening your own professional network.

RELATED: How Veterans Can Grow Their Professional Networks

Keep it Up to Date

Optimizing a profile isn’t useful for long if it isn’t kept up to date. Natalia points out the utility of regularly updating professional achievements – the information is organized and readily available for filling out applications.

LinkedIn Premium Free for Military Spouses

Military spouses with a MySECO account are eligible for LinkedIn Premium free for one year. The following steps are required before the free upgrade.

  • Create a free MySECO account
  • Meet with SECO career coach by phone or live chat
  • Attend an online live webinar about leveraging your LinkedIn Premium account
  • Complete the Leveraging LinkedIn Premium self-paced training course

A free, easy, and effective way to neatly thread an impressively complex web of experience into a page-turning story.

 

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National Guard and Reservist Job Security in State Governments

Job Security for Those Serving in National Guard and Reserve

Gaps in USERRA Protection

Job security is closely tied to overall well-being. When a job is threatened or lost due to unclear or non-existing regulations, systems that protect service members need to be improved.

Populations within the military perpetually fall in “gray areas.” Unclear regulations should not exist in the realm of job security for National Guard members and Reservists.

USERRA

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) protects the employment rights of individuals who leave a position of employment to fulfill military service commitments. USERRA Applies to service members including:

  • Army
  • Navy
  • Marine Corps
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • Public Health Service commissioned corps
  • Reserve components of the above services

Generally, an employer must re-employ service members returning from military service commitments such as active duty service, training, funeral honors duty, and fitness examinations.

USERRA and equal employment opportunity laws prohibit discrimination in employment decisions based on veteran status.

Gray Area

USERRA applies to virtually all U.S. employers – including states (and their political subdivisions), the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and United States territories. USERRA supersedes state laws unless the state laws are more generous.

In a McClatchy Washington Bureau article on Task & Purpose, however, Tara Copp explains that the U.S. Supreme Court asked the Texas attorney general’s office why USERRA protections should not extend to states. This dialogue was triggered by the case Le Roy Torres v. The Texas Department of Public Safety.

One of hundreds of thousands of Americans with National Guard or reservist experience working in a state or local government job, Le Roy Torres was forced to resign in 2012. After a 12-month deployment in Iraq, where the former Texas state trooper was exposed to toxic ash from an open-air pit, he was not able to perform former duties. Torres was also not offered an alternative job to accommodate his condition, according to the Copp article.

RELATED: VA Evaluates Environmental Hazards and Cancer Risk

State Law and USERRA

The Torres case highlights a situation where discrepancies between state and federal regulations can have a negative impact.

The Reserve Organization of America explains that USERRA supersedes any state laws unless the state laws provide more generous benefits than USERRA. This website provides an index of state laws – some of which offer more generous benefits than USERRA and some that offer significantly less.

It has also been noted that the accuracy with which courts have interpreted USERRA is debatable.

Improving Laws Protecting Jobs

USERRA has a long history, rooted in the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. This legislation provided the first reemployment rights for service members and has evolved continuously over the last 80 years.

Since 1994, however, USERRA has not undergone major changes. As long as unclear regulations continue to exist, improving protections for National Guard members and reservists needs to continue.

Will the U.S. Supreme Court hear the Torres case? If so, what will the decision mean for the rights of National Guard members and reservists in state government jobs?

 

>> Never miss benefits news and updates that are important to you!  Sign up today to receive the MyMilitaryBenefits newsletter free to your inbox!

 

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Veteran Careers in the Solar Industry

Exciting Solar Industry Careers for Veterans

No matter what position you take with climate change, one thing everyone can agree on is that solar power is here to stay. I do not know what the future holds for our nation’s energy, especially as rolling blackouts in California are becoming routine. However, I do know that ever since Edmond Bacquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect in 1839, society has continued to study and invest in solar power.  For veterans, there are unique opportunities designed just for us.  Here we explore solar industry career options for veterans.

Solar Ready Vets Network

The United States Department of Energy (DoE) has sponsored the Solar Ready Vets Network which “engages solar industry employers, certified solar training providers, veterans service organizations and workforce development networks to support military service members and veterans pursuing solar industry careers.”

Through their Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), the DoE connects veterans and transitioning military service members  with career training, professional development, and employment opportunities in the solar industry.

The Solar Ready Vets Network supports the military community by:

  • Facilitating positive connections for successful careers
  • Developing a model that standardizes a solar apprenticeship
  • Establishing industry specific partnerships for education
  • Promoting On-The-Job Training (OJT)
  • Expanding GI Bill eligibility for solar training and education

If you are a veteran or transitioning service member, access the Veterans Page to get started.

3 Powerful Initiatives

  • Solar Ready Vets Fellowship Program: This program places active duty service members in 12-week work-based learning programs with solar employers to facilitate the transition into a civilian career. This fellowship focuses on management and professional positions like technical sales, system design, supply chain logistics, project development. The Solar Foundation leads this program in partnership with the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hiring Our Heroes” program and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
  • Solar Opportunities and Readiness (SOAR) Initiative: This program connects veterans with solar training, credentialing, professional development, and employment opportunities. SOAR’s goals are to establish an apprenticeship recognized by the Department of Labor, expand the eligibility of solar training for GI Bill benefits, and define expedited pathways to solar certifications based on military experience and qualifications. The Solar Foundation leads this program in partnership with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) and SEIA.
  • Cyberguardians and STEM Warriors: This project is led by SunSpec Alliance and provides training for veterans in cybersecurity and information technology. This is a three-year program designed to prepare military veteran job seekers training on Distributed Energy Resource (DER) technology. Methods and resources include online modules, accredited curricula, and hybrid training programs focused on designing systems for distributed energy resources, as well as grid operations, data analytics, cybersecurity, and investment decision support. For this program, check out their Cyberguardians

Solar Credentialing for Veterans

The Solar Ready Vets team, in collaboration with the NABCEP, has established GI Eligibility for the Photovoltaic Associate (PVA) Program. With this approval by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veterans and service members transitioning to the civilian workforce can now apply for reimbursement of all NABCEP PV-related exams.

As of 2018, all of the following exams are eligible for reimbursement:

  • PV Associate (PVA) Exam
  • PV Installation Professional (PVIP)
  • PV Design Specialist (PVDS)
  • PV Installation Specialist (PVIS)
  • PV Commissioning & Maintenance (PVCMS)
  • PV Technical Sales (PVTS)
  • PV System Inspector (PVSI)

Occupational Outlook

In 2019, the median pay for a Solar Photovoltaic Installer was $44,890 per year, or $21.58 per hour. That’s not bad for an entry-level job that only requires a high school diploma. It’s certainly more than they paid me as a private in the mid-1990s! The job outlook for this career is expecting growth in the field of 51% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than average.

If you fall more on the computer side of the solar-powered house, the 2019 median pay for Information Security Analysts was $99,730 per year, or $47.95 per hour. While the Department of Labor does list a bachelor’s degree as the typical entry level education, there are programs like the Cyberguardians and STEM Warriors program mentioned above that fully prepare you for a cyber career specific to the energy industry. This career field is expected to grow at a rate of 31% between 2019 and 2029.

Background Information

In 2014, the US Department of Energy launched Solar Ready Vets as a pilot program to prepare US Veterans for careers as photovoltaic system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other roles within the solar industry.

In 2017, Solar Ready Vets became an independent program administered by participating military bases, using tools and partnerships developed during the pilot phase. More than 500 students over 35 cohorts and in 10 different states graduated from the pilot program. The US Department of Defense’s SkillBridge initiative enabled the training by allowing transitioning service members to pursue civilian training, apprenticeships, and internships up to six months prior to their separation.

Success Stories

For some success stories and testaments from other veterans, check out their awesome Service to Solar page that offers advice and guidance from fellow veterans who have gone through these various programs and are serving in the solar industry.

If you’ve ever considered a career in the solar industry, or even in an IT role specific to the solar industry, then these programs are an amazing opportunity to power your next career!

(Image courtesy of Mark Agnor via www.123rf.com)

 

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Patriot Bootcamp

Don’t Miss Patriot Bootcamp — Application Deadline Dec 6

Do you have notions, dreams, or plans of becoming a successful entrepreneur?  Have you ever envisioned using the skills you learned in the military to start your own company? If so, Patriot Bootcamp (PBC) may be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

Since its inception in 2012, PBC has been on a mission to assemble and activate an inclusive community that helps military members, veterans, and military spouses become creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs leading the new economy.

PBC’s Vision

PBC’s overarching vision is to leverage a nationwide network of military, business, and startup community thought leaders who will help build the next generation of high-growth, scalable, and impactful companies. To date, this 501c3 non-profit, based in Boulder, Colorado, has served more than 950 entrepreneurs. All of the donations it receives go directly to its programs.

3 Biggest Entrepreneurial Challenges for Military, Veterans and Their Spouses

Co-founded as a volunteer effort by Taylor McLemore, Governor Jared Polis, and Techstars Co-Founder David Cohen, this nonprofit startup accelerator was designed to address the gaps in entrepreneurial support that military members, veterans, and their spouses often encounter. The PBC team identified the three biggest entrepreneurial challenges as:

Lack of access to:

  • Financial capital
  • Business education
  • Mentors and networks

This organization continues to strive to find new ways to bridge those gaps. In addition, PBC strives to increase diversity in entrepreneurship in order to help strengthen the global ecosystem of entrepreneurs.

PBC’s Commitment to Empower Its Members

PBC’s leaderships team remains committed to creating and administering programs that provide access to mentors, educational programming, and a robust community of experts and peers to empower its members to create and develop businesses. Its broad offerings are designed to help to those who are still in the idea stage, those who have a company that’s up and running, and everyone else in between.

While the original three-day PBC event in 2012 was held in in Washington, D.C., subsequent programs have been held each year in 8 cities nationwide. This year, like most everything else, the programs have gone virtual.

Those virtual offerings include a series of Free Lunch and Learns on vast array of topics from Cyber Crime, to Personal Branding, to Finance and more.

The PBC webinars generally run live on Thursdays from 1:30 – 2:30 EDT. They’ve also been archived and made available as both recordings and slide decks. You can access those resources at not cost by clicking here.  Any active duty service members, veterans, and military spouses who want to attend are welcome.

You can also follow the PBC blog to stay on top of relevant and relatable topics and you can follow PBC on Facebook.

PBC Applications Have Been Opened

PBC has opened applications to its 2021 Virtual Bootcamp, February 3rd and 4th, 2021 beyond the Blog, Facebook and accessible webinar series.  This program offers access to capital workshops and panels with financial leaders and venture capital experts, as well as entrepreneurial education programming with world-class speakers, and multiple one-on-one sessions with access to over 35 subject matter experts.

If you’re interested in applying for this program, you must get your application in no later than December 6, 2020. Please click here to apply.

In addition to concrete knowledge, those who attend the PBC programs say they come away with a new level of  confidence.

If you have additional questions for Patriot Boot Camp, please reach out to them directly.

 

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Veteran-owned Distilleries and Breweries

Highlighting Distillery and Spirits Companies Owned by Veterans

Veterans are hardworking motivated individuals who often pursue their passion through entrepreneurship. Check out these veteran-owned breweries and Distilleries and consider supporting them. If you would like to support other veteran-owned businesses in your area, visit Veteranownedbusiness.com.

Shadow Ridge Spirits Company

Distillers in Oceanside, CA

The Company

Shadow Ridge Spirits Company was founded by Sean Hallman a navy veteran who served as a Navy-Surface Warfare Officer. Sean and his wife enjoy distilling together on the weekends to create unique flavors for their customers. They pride themselves on specializing in premium small-batch, hand-crafted spirits that allow them to experiment with new and unique recipes. They are located in Oceanside, CA.

Products Available

Founder and owner Sean Hallman describes his products with great detail – “Our whiskies are 100 percent grain to glass and are aged in American White Oak barrels. We currently offer Bourbon, Rye, Peated Single Malt, and an American Single Malt. All of our whiskies feature unique grain bills that include specialty grains and malted barley. They are aged in charred oak barrels, which enhance the grain flavors and help to develop vanilla, caramel, and cinnamon flavors. We primarily use 5 gallon, 10 gallon, and 15 gallons barrels.

Additionally, we offer both barrel-aged and silver rums which highlight the flavors and sweetness of high-grade sugars and molasses. We are in the R&D phase for Shadow Ridge Spirits Gin, which will provide a clean base-alcohol, allowing the hand-selected botanicals to shine.”

You can find their products at the Oceanside Distillers tasting room along with liquor stores and bars. They offer shipping within the state of California. Visit their website to check out their products and get access to promo codes they may be offering.

Deaf Shepherd Distilling Co.

Distillers in San Diego, CA

The Company

Deaf Shepherd Distilling Co. was established in January of 2019 by an active-duty Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, Josh Christy. There is nothing like a deployment that can change dreams into reality, Josh came up with the idea during a combat deployment in Afghanistan where he also found the inspiration for the company name in his now rescued war dog, Satchel, a deaf shepherd mix. Currently, the owner and distiller are located in San Diego, CA. Josh creates his brews himself when he is not training or deployed. He enjoys making original batches that are always unique.

Products Available

Products available for purchase are spiced rum, barrel-aged rum, and barrel rested gin. In June 2021 Josh will release the first barrel of bourbon consisting of high rye whiskey, 100% rye whiskey, high rye bourbon. In late summer an American single malt whiskey will be available.

Josh is a true craft distiller who describes his batches as being “distilled with love, barreled with pride, and consumed with enthusiasm.”. Visit the Deaf Shepherd Distilling Co. Facebook page for more information.

MilServ

Supply Chain and Logistics

The Company

MilServ is a veteran-owned and operated supply chain and logistics company. They provide craft alcohol to retailers, distributors, and directly to customers. Perhaps the most important aspect of the company is their strong commitment to supporting other veteran-owned businesses and creating jobs for veterans.

Always Serving Veterans

Milserv is an established Benefit Corporation which means the business as a core is dedicated to serving a purpose within the community and caring about their impact on society and the environment. They continue to make a difference in the lives of other veterans and their families by giving back 20% of their profits to the veteran community.

Milserv doesn’t stop there they also offer brewers and distributors they work with a 10% veteran discount. To learn more visit their website.

As if you needed an excuse to drink beer, why not drink and support your fellow service members? From the east to the west coast, here’s a list of veteran-owned breweries that you need to know about (and visit).

Backward Flag Brewing Co.

Created by Army veteran in Forked River, N.J.

Ono Brewing Company

Created by an Army veteran in Chantilly, VA.

Red Leg Brewing Co

Veteran-owned brewery in Colorado Springs, CO.

Honor Brewing Company

Veteran-owned brewery in Chantilly, VA.

Veterans United Craft Brewery

Started by a Navy veteran in Jacksonville, FL,

Railhouse Brewery

Owned by a group of Army, Navy and Air Force veterans in Aberdeen, N.C.

Full Tilt Brewery

Co-created by a Navy veteran in Baltimore, MD.  A portion of the proceeds from their Memorial Pils goes to Military Family Relief Fund to honor the memory of fallen service members and to comfort their families.

Service Brewing Company

Created by a West Point graduate in Savannah, GA.

Talea Brewing Company

Co-created by a U.S. Naval Academy graduate.

Dog Tag Brewing Foundation

Created by a Marine Corps veteran.  When you drink beer from Dog Tag, you’re also supporting Gold Star Families.  See more about their foundation here.

 

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VOC REHAB Mission Realigned By VA With Name Change

VA Realigns Mission of VR&E With New Name Change

A statement in early June from the Executive Director of Readiness and Employment Service, William Streitberger, read, “I am pleased to announce the renaming of our program, which became effective as of June 22, 2020. From that date forward, Vocational Rehabilitation (VOC REHAB) and Employment Service will become known as Veteran Readiness and Employment Service. We will continue to abbreviate our program as VR&E.” The new tagline for the program is: “Empower. Achieve. Succeed.”

VR&E is one of the oldest benefits for veterans providing assistance and services to help those who previously served gain civilian employment using a five-track system. Each track helps participants navigate the many aspects of finding and succeeding in a new career field.

5 Tracks of the VR&E Program Guidelines

The Five Tracks of the program follow these guidelines:

  1. Reemployment: to successfully return participants to a civilian job they previously held
  2. Rapid Access to Employment: to quickly secure employment with existing skills and experience
  3. Self-Employment: to plan for and start a business
  4. Employment through Long-Term Services: to obtain training and/or education, college or certification programs, on the job training, non-paid work experience, apprenticeships, and/or internships
  5. Independent Living: to become self-sufficient – if the participant can’t return to work right away

Characteristics of the Program

The official VA blog describes some of the characteristics of the program that participants will encounter, such as:

  • Exploring career goals and interests
  • Pursuing skilled professions or trades
  • Selecting and mapping personal goals for employment
  • Obtaining formal education or training where tuition, fees, books and supplies are provided at no cost
  • Maximizing independence in life’s daily activities

 

VA Set Out to Better Understand Programs Strengths and Weaknesses

It was identified that changes to the program were needed through “a comprehensive Human-Centered Design (HCD) research effort,” which helped the VA better understand the “program’s strengths, weaknesses, pain points, and opportunities to increase program awareness and enhance the delivery of VR&E services.”

This effort collected information from sessions with veterans, service members, VR&E employees, and veterans service officers, which revealed that the previous program name created confusion, a misunderstanding of the program’s services, and unknowingly cultivated a sense of stigma.

Research after the name change and program updates – specifically around identifying Chapter 31 as a career/employment program – indicates that greater awareness will mitigate confusion and increase participation.  “The new name puts an emphasis on the Veteran and the department’s mission to help them reach their employment goals,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

Physical Changes to the VR&E Program

A few of the physical changes to the program are:

  • Will accept a typed signature on all forms related to the VR&E program – previously would only accept “wet signature” forms; this should make it easier for veterans to receive their benefits more quickly
  • More electronic communication between participants and VR&E field staff; due to the pandemic, tele-counseling should be utilized to allow easier and quicker access for veterans
  • Has created a centralized mail intake point for all postal mail regarding the VR&E program to ensure “business as usual” during the pandemic. The address is:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Veteran Readiness and Employment Service (VR&E) Intake Center

PO Box 5210

Janesville, WI 53547-5210

Not the First Name Change for the Program

This program had a previous name change twenty years ago, from Vocational Rehabilitation and Counseling. And some feel that this name change – and the cost it may have carried – came at a poor time during this pandemic. Whatever the future may hold for VR&E, stakeholders and those who benefit from it hope that any additional transformations that may come will not change the good work the program is intended to do.

Learn more about VR&E and apply for assistance here.

 

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Webinars for Job Hunting Veterans and Military Spouses [updated]

Webinars to Prepare Veterans and Military Spouses to Land a Job 2021

Updated through August 2021

There are many tools out there to help the military community with finding a job. Possibly one of the most convenient and helpful tools are webinars. A webinar is a virtual live presentation or conference that many companies use to train, guide, network, or gain new employees. For the military community, webinars can be a great tool if you are looking for a job.

These virtual events allow you to grow your knowledge of what employers are looking for and how to best prepare yourself and your resume to get the job you want. Webinars are usually interactive, allowing for on the spot discussions about tips and resources. Attending a webinar geared toward the military community may just be the resource you need to jump-start your next career.

Types of Virtual Webinars

  • Interview Preparation
  • Resume Tips
  • Employer Connections
  • Leveraging Job Search Engines
  • Networking Tips
  • Company Recruitment

Webinars in June for Military, Veterans and Spouses

June 24, 2021

  • MOAA Seminar: Maximize Your Overall Compensation Package – This webinar will focus on salary and benefits negotiation. The webinar will cover how your conduct during the negotiation process will directly affect your relationship with your future employer as well as The Value of your TRICARE Benefit, Composition of Employee Benefits Packages, Preparing for Salary Negotiation, When to Talk Money, How to Respond to Salary Questions, Evaluating the Salary Offer, and Closing the Deal. 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT, pre-registration generally required, register here.

  

June 30, 2021

  • Turning a Job into a Career – This webinar will focus on leveraging a position that might not be your dream job into a better opportunity. The webinar will also cover how to turn an entry level position or part time position into a meaningful career. 7:00 pm EST, pre-registration generally required, register here.

 

Webinars in July for Military, Veterans and Spouses

 

July 15, 2021

  • Hire Heroes USA: Navigating Gaps in Employment – This webinar focuses on employment gaps. The employment gaps they will cover are gaps in education, experience, and employment history. You will get insight on how to address them on your application, resume, and in the interview. 3:00 pm ET, pre-Registration generally required, register here.

 

July 19, 2021

  • Making an Impactful Impression: How to Work a Virtual Career Fair – This webinar will focus on teaching you how to make an impactful impression at a virtual career fair. If you have never attended a virtual career fair and want to learn what they are all about and how to navigate them this is a great webinar for you to attend. 2:00 pm– 3:00 pm EDT, pre-Registration generally required, register here.

 

July 20, 2021

  • Success After Service: 5 Steps to Get Hired – This webinar will focus on the employment process, resume tailoring, defining and protecting your brand, identifying your target, selling yourself in an interview, and offer negotiation. This is event is great for transitioning military members.10:00 am PT, pre-Registration generally required, register here.

 

July 21, 2021

  • Federal Employment: Strategy Session – This webinar will focus on helping you achieve success with your federal applications. You will look at vacancy announcements, building narrative content, and tailoring a federal resume.12:00 pm ET, pre-Registration generally required, register here.

 

Jul 27, 2021

  • Success for Military Spouses: Leveraging LinkedIn – This webinar will focus on building your professional LinkedIn profile by getting guidance on establishing meaningful connections, maximizing LinkedIn resources. Building a strong network and creating a strong profile can propel your career forward. 9:00 am PT, pre-Registration generally required, register here.

 

Webinars in August for Military, Veterans and Spouses

 

August 3, 2021

  • Military Spouses: 5 Steps to Get Hired – This webinar will focus on helping military spouses navigate the job search process. Military spouses will receive resume writing guidance, learn how to leverage their personal networks, and receive effective interview techniques. 9:00 am PST, pre-registration generally required, register 9:00 am PT pre-Registration generally required, register here.

 

August 11, 2021

  • Be Seen: How to Make Yourself More Visible to Employer Recruiters – This webinar will teach you tools to make it easier for recruiters to find you. The webinar will also cover finding the right job that fits your skill set. There will be time for questions and answers. 2:00 pm- 3:00 pm EDT, pre-Registration generally required, register here.

 

August 19, 2021

  • Centurion Military Alliance Virtual Warrior Transition Workshop – This webinar is comprised of three pillars: Educational Attainment, Vocational Proficiency, and Financial Literacy. The goal of this webinar is to gain a greater understanding of how to leverage skill sets, transition assistance tools, and resources. 11:00 am, pre-Registration generally required, register here.

 

August 25, 2021

  • Federal Employment: Where to Begin – This webinar will focus on the federal employment process, creating a job seeker profile, and beginning to build a federal resume. Great webinar for learning how to search for federal positions. 12:00 pm ET, 9:00 am PT, pre-Registration generally required, register here.

 

Non-Profits Assisting Military Spouses

Focusing on networking and career development, these non-profits put military spouses first.

Hire Heroes USA

Hire Heroes USA gives one-on-one coaching to spouses no matter where in the hiring process they are. With LinkedIn and resume help, as well as interview and job board preparation, spouses are able to be a cut above the rest. Being paired with a transition specialist, this free resource helps spouses and military members land the career they have been looking for while staying in touch throughout the hiring process.

RELATED: Hiring Our Heroes: Overview of Programs

The USO

The United Service Organization or USO, allows volunteer opportunities and networking events for military service members and their dependents. By signing up for USO Military Spouse Networking Events spouses are able to connect with spouses in their area who are in the same situation they are in. By attending these events, spouses are able to improve their elevator pitch, explaining yourself and your personal mission, resume and interview skills without the pressure of being corrected or evaluated. Spouses are encouraged to “find their spark” and find what they are passionate about to bring focus and purpose to their life though USO spouse connections.

RELATED: USO Transition Program & 3 Tips for Transition Success

Military Spouse Corporate Center Network (MSCCN)

Founded in 2004 the Military Spouse Corporate Center Network, or MSCCN, aids spouses to find a balance between their career and military life challenges. Being able to search work from home employment and access prerecorded trainings allows even the busiest spouses a way to improve their job search. Aiming to help spouses maintain and obtain a portable career is their main focus, MSCCN aims to encourage spouses to accomplish their career goals regardless of location or station.

COVID-19 has changed the whole world as we know it. Being an ever changing service, military members and their families must learn to adapt to their circumstances and overcome any obstacle. Being able to keep up to date with employment preparation and job trends is the key to stay on top of the job market. Being able to relay and support each other in our communities.

RELATED: 3 Big Military Spouse Professional Advocacy Networks

Blue Star Families

Blue Star Families has a program called Spouse Force which is sponsored by The Walmart Foundation and JPMorgan Chase that aids military spouses in building a technology career. Their aim is to make sure that spouses have a career that is portable and in high demand. Training offered by sponsors allows the spouse to be a step ahead of competition in the hiring process. Training in skills related to software and technology, business and writing management as well as internet and workplace safety, allow the spouse to improve their resume and interview skills.  Blue Star Families connects individuals with online mentors around the country in their desired field of practice to ensure they are on the correct path to their new career.

Even though the world around us seems to be at a standstill, this is the perfect time to get ahead. Online training and courses are more readily available than ever before. Improving yourself inside and out will put a new perspective on this life in quarantine. Staying sharp and ready with skills like interviewing and networking will allow you to be one step ahead in the new normal. Now more than ever this year, with the holiday season approaching, more opportunities are just around the corner, you just need to know where to look.

 

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5 Insider Tips for Navigating USAJOBS

Tips On How to Best Navigate USAJOBS

USAJOBS is the Federal Government’s official employment site. It has a reputation for being a tough nut to crack. For many, it is a common experience to receive an immediate ineligibility notification or watch a resume sit in the system for months with no progress.

It tends to be a complex system that is quite different from most other application submission processes.

Understand Eligibility

Eligibility is not the same as qualification in the world of USAJOBS. Each job posting is labeled with an icon that represents various eligibilities or hiring paths. This is one reason why a candidate who seems highly qualified for a position may be determined ineligible.

USAJOBS hiring paths include:

  • Veterans
  • Open to the public
  • Federal employees
  • Internal to an agency
  • Career transition
  • Family of overseas employees
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Military spouses
  • National Guard & Reserves
  • Native American and Alaskan Natives
  • Peace Corps & AmeriCorps VISTA
  • Senior Executives
  • Special Authorities
  • Students
  • Recent Graduates

It is important to review the hiring paths associated with each job announcement to determine whether or not you are eligible. It is equally important to understand that falling into a hiring path does not automatically mean that you are a preferred candidate.

In addition to these complexities, each job is assigned a hiring authority that may or may not be listed in the job announcement. This can affect the way that candidates are selected for the position.

RELATED: DOD Priority Placement Program for Military Spouses

5 Insider Tips for Building a Federal Resume

 Charlene is an Army Community Service (ACS) Coordinator who manages the ACS Employment Readiness program at an OCONUS location. She supports military community members in navigating USAJOBS and building federal resumes on a daily basis.

She shares the following tips that she has absorbed over time through various resources including the US Office of Personnel Management, colleagues, and the Resume Place.

Follow the Instructions

There are some universal truths to resume writing – provide all of the necessary information, proof-read and eliminate any typos, and tailor each resume for the job posting. Not following instructions makes it difficult to review a resume and less likely that a resume will make the cut.

Ensuring eligibility increases the chances of being selected. The same is true for making a resume easy to read and providing all supporting documents.

Charlene recommends blocking out any Personal Identifying Information (PII) like social security numbers and date of birth. This is simply good practice to protect this private information and does not influence the candidate selection process.

Use Keywords

But don’t copy/paste. Charlene recommends reading the entire job posting and focus on pulling keywords from the responsibilities, questionnaire, and qualifications sections. For example, if one of the qualifications is customer service, highlight that you have experience in customer service. Paint a picture of how well you have performed customer service. Using numbers and statistics is a great way to demonstrate performance.

Manage Length

There is no magic number for federal resume length. Expect it to be longer than a traditional resume – like 5-8 pages. Charlene explains that the trend is to write mini narrative paragraphs that clearly explain what you have done and how well you have done it.

It is good practice to use present tense for current roles and past tense for past roles. Listing jobs from the last 10 years is recommended. It is appropriate to include jobs from longer than 10 years ago if they show that you are qualified for the position.

Fill the Last Page

The last page is a great place to include a professional summary. Filling the last page simply makes a resume look more complete. HR spends only about 10 seconds reviewing resumes! A resume that is easy to read, looks complete, and clearly matches the job posting will increase the chances of being selected.

Enter Hours Worked

Most job postings require a minimum of 1 year of specialized experience. Charlene shares that in USAJOBS, 1 year = 40 hours per week for 52 weeks. The system will not recognize that minimum qualifications are met if hours worked are not entered.

Keep in mind that volunteer experience can count as specialized experience. Enter hours worked for volunteer experience too.

Additional Resources for Navigating USAJOBS

ACS Programs are excellent resources for securing employment and navigating USAJOBS. Charlene adds that some ACS programs are available to anyone with base access, though some may be limited to active duty and Veterans. Each branch has its own version of ACS.

USAJOBS offers recurring, free, virtual webinars for building a Federal Resume. Resume Place also offers resources for federal resume writing and free webinars.

 

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The UPS Store Waives Franchise Fee for Veterans For Limited Time

Franchise Fee for Veterans Waived By UPS Store Through Nov 2020

If you have considered franchising a brand be sure to check out The UPS Store. From May 12 through November 11, 2020, UPS will waive the $29,950 franchise fee for the first 10 veterans who qualify. This program ran in 2019 as well.

If you are too late to apply for the limited promotion mentioned above, The UPS Store has a standing discount for veterans of $10,000 off the franchise fee. This includes 50% off the application fee.

Veterans approved to franchise The UPS Store locations will still be financially responsible for regular operation expenses. Applicants should expect to pay for rent, utilities, and any costs built in to their Franchise Disclosure Document which may include ongoing licensing fees, rental equipment, training and support fees, advertising fees, and so on. All The UPS Store franchisees are required to have $60,000 in liquid start-up cash.

The UPS Store estimates the full financial obligation for opening a rural store ranges from $130,000 to $380,000, while a traditional location can range from $140,000 to over $500,000.

Veterans who would perform well as The UPS Store franchisees include those who have strong skills in leadership, work ethic, and discipline. The current CEO of The UPS Store is a former captain of the Marine Corps.

Franchising in General

A franchise is simply a license for someone to operate with a certain business’s brand. McDonald’s, 7/11, and Re/Max are all very popular (and successful) businesses that have large a large franchise footprint.

Franchising is a great way to have access to brand power and to have the expertise of a large corporation behind them. Franchisors assist their franchisees with every aspect of the business from training and site selection, to marketing and operations support.  The oft-quoted phrase in the franchising world is “you are in business for yourself, not by yourself.”

While franchising allows access to a business’s expertise and marketing, owning a franchise does not guarantee success. If a company has corporate struggles, then a franchisee may feel those repercussions despite running a smooth operation. Also, a franchise agreement limits creativity since a franchisee must operate within the business model corporate dictates.

Franchise opportunities are excellent for someone who wants to excel within a structured environment much like the way the government or military is set up. However, if you are more independent or free-spirited, you may want to consider an independent business model or select a franchise that resonates with your values.

 

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What Veterans Need to Know About Promotions in the Civilian World

Veterans, Loyalty, and “Promotion from Within”

Looking for rapid professional advancement? Don’t put all your eggs in the “promote from within” basket.

In the military, promotions are somewhat reliable. There is a formula for monetary advancements based on grade and time of service. You and all of your colleagues’ pay is determined from a table, which applies universally across all branches of the armed forces.  You know that you’ll probably get a tiny raise every year to compensate for inflation, and every two years or so, you’ll get a decent bump up as well.

Military Promotions Are More Reliable Than in the Civilian Workforce

If you are good at your job, study for your promotion tests, do a passable job at your professional military education opportunities, and make a decent impression at your board reviews (where applicable), you should promote on schedule. Most everyone who stays out of trouble and avoids serious injury can advance to a place where they can collect military retirement at the end of 20 (or more) years of service.

It is only natural for a veteran to expect the civilian world to operate in a similar fashion. Well, it doesn’t. Loyalty to an employer may be in your veteran DNA, but that dedication is not always reciprocated.

Civilian Employment Is More Fluid

Employment is more fluid in the civilian world. There are no 4-year enlistment contracts. Your leadership can:

  • Fire you for no reason whatsoever (unless you have a union gig)
  • Entirely change the nature of your position
  • Break promises for advancement
  • Pile additional work on you without additional compensation or authority
  • Hire someone above you in a position you were hoping to occupy

Most of the above would require a veritable mountain of paperwork and months of bureaucratic red tape if executed in a military setting. The civilian workplace, however, can do all of the above with immediacy. Understandably, this reality makes many vets uncomfortable. The silver lining? You have flexibility on your end, too.

My Story

I was once hired into a lower-executive-level civilian position with the promise of rapid advancement. It appeared to be the ultimate set-up: my direct supervisor (a director-level position) was planning on staying for just one more year. During that time, he would get me up to speed and his position would be “mine to lose” upon his departure. Shortly after I signed the employment offer, I was told that my would-be direct supervisor had been offered an incredible opportunity and would be transitioning earlier than expected. I wasn’t going to have one year of overlap with the guy; I was going to have one week.

Learning quickly was my only option. I worked my tail off and performed at a high level, especially considering I had assumed his responsibilities in addition to the duties I was hired to accomplish. After about three months I respectfully asked my leadership what the plan was for my professional development. I was told to “keep up the great work, and you’re going to be really happy really quickly. Just hang in there.”  I was doing director-level work without the authority of the title or compensation to match. The responsibilities continued to pile on and I met every challenge, hoping that my leadership would follow through with the rapid advancement they promised me. Heck, I thought, it should happen earlier than they had initially promised, right? After all, I had shouldered all that responsibility way sooner than the one-year mark!

Flexibility Works Both Ways in Civilian Sector

Six months into the position I began to get frustrated with the lack of communication. It seemed like nobody wanted to talk about my professional development within the organization. I decided to have a more candid conversation with my supervisor, who “didn’t remember promising me anything.”  I went straight to the boss. He said, “Sorry if we dangled a carrot in front of you. It shouldn’t have been like that. If you keep up the good work, we can chat about bumping you to director in 2 or 3 years.” I was in shock. I left for another opportunity shortly thereafter.

Civilian Bosses May Lack Incentive to Help

Your civilian bosses don’t always have a ton of incentive to help you climb to the top. If you’re absolutely killing it, and they don’t have to pay you very much to get epic levels of production from you, why would they pay you more if they can get away with short-changing you? Why would they promote you to level 2 when you’re indispensable at level 1? They get more bang for their buck keeping you where you are. Don’t get me wrong, there are employers out there that take a “draft-and-develop” mentality as it pertains to their employees’ development.  But you can’t assume yours is one of them until you have seen proof of that in action. Your employer owes you nothing, and at the end of the day, it’s business.

3 Ways for Veterans to Avoid Getting Stuck in Your Job

So, as stated earlier, don’t put all of your eggs in the “promote-from-within” basket. Here are three ways you can avoid getting stuck:

Meet With Your Boss

Meet with your boss. Have a candid, respectful conversation with your leadership about your professional development, but remember to apply a healthy dose of skepticism to everything they say. I’m not saying every civilian leader is a liar! In their defense, things change all the time in business, and I do not believe that most civilian leaders intentionally mislead or take advantage of their workers. Perhaps your boss doesn’t even know you have ambitions to become a manager, director, or C-suite executive. For this reason, it is important to humbly express your aspirations to your supervisor. If he or she is a good leader, he or she will let you know what you need to accomplish to achieve your goals and will help lay out a plan of action. Then both of you will follow through. If not, you may need a new supervisor or a new job altogether.

Network, Network, Network

Network, network, network. Every single day you should be working to expand your network with relevant connections. Developing meaningful relationships in your local area and industry may very well be the most important key to your professional advancement. I know a well-connected professional that lost his job rather abruptly (yes, it happens in the civilian world, even to good employees). He had multiple job offers within 24 hours due entirely to his well-developed network.

Always Be Applying

Always be applying. Unless you are still becoming acclimated to a new position (in the first year or so), your radar should be up. Ensure that you peruse job boards on LinkedIn or Indeed from time to time. Keep an eye out for opportunities, and apply for them if they sound like a good fit. It is acceptable to go for pie-in-the-sky gigs here. If you can land that 6-figure job as an imported beer taste-tester, for example, then it would definitely be worth the transition. An immensely beneficial part of this process is the constant upgrading and updating of your resume. Additionally, every interview you participate in is a valuable learning experience.

All of this is not to say that you should bail entirely on opportunities within your organization. There are many employers that will give you opportunities for upward mobility. Distribute your eggs wisely, with most of them in your current job’s basket. For your own protection, lest that basket drop or get upended, you also want to make sure to have a few eggs in your other employment baskets.

Above all, ensure that the constant in all of this is your high performance. Execute at a high level, strive to get better every day, be open to feedback, and be a good coworker. That way you will have a string of successes and glowing recommendations to garner you that sought-after promotion within your organization.  Or it will make you more marketable to other prospective employers if the need or desire arises.

 

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Conference for Military and Veterans Interested in Information Security Careers

VetSec: Veteran Security Conference 2020

Are you an active duty service member close to transition, or a veteran? Are you interested in a career in Information Security? If the answer to these questions is YES, then please keep reading!

It is no secret that the Information Technology career field is growing at an astounding and exponential rate. According to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, Information Security Analysts average about $99K per year, with employment expected to grow 32% through 2028! For Software Developers, the DOL projects a job growth of 21% through 2028 with an average salary of $105,590 per year. There are so many openings in the IT field up for grabs, it’s no wonder that many companies seek to hire veterans who bring discipline and determination to the field. If you are transitioning from the service, or a veteran, where do you begin?

VetSec, a veteran cyber security community, is hosting VetSecCon 2020, their second convention aimed at achieving their vision of “A world where no veteran pursuing information security goes unemployed.

Convention Information

The convention, sponsored by Layer8 Conference, will take place on October 16-17, 2020, and features key speakers from the information security industry. The convention will unfold into three tracks:

  • Track 1 – targets military members who are preparing to transition to civilian life. Speakers will address topics like job interviews, resume writing, LinkedIn networking, veterans benefits, educational benefits, and many more.
  • Track 2 – This is the technical track. Speakers from the VetSec community and other industry leaders will address topics relevant to entry-level information security and other highly specialized talks.
  • Track 3 – Covers the human aspect of information security. This track focuses on philosophical topics that extend beyond the technical, like making a difference in the field and managing burnout.

Building on the foundation laid by their first convention, VetSec wants to call further attention to their mission of providing support for “active duty, transitioning, and veteran members of the military who are currently working in or transitioning into the Information Technology, Systems Engineering, or Cybersecurity industries.” 

With the three tracks listed above, VetSecCon 2020 will offer 26 workshops and 28 speakers. Who are those speakers?

Featured Personalities

The Keynote speaker for the event is Chloe Messdaghi, Vice President of Strategy at Point3 Security. Other great speakers include: 

  • Matt Kiely (USMC), author for huskyhacks.dev
  • Lesley Carhart, Principle Industrial Incident Responder at Dragos, Inc.
  • Tom Marsland (USN), Board Chair at VetSec, Inc.
  • Katelyn Bowden, Founder and CEO of BADASS (Battling Against Demeaning and Abusive Selfie Sharing)
  • Michael Smith, Independent Consultant
  • James Murphy, CEO at TechVets
  • Gary Tsai, Strategist at Veterans Voice NYC
  • Brad Rhodes, Head of Cybersecurity at zvelo
  • And more to come!

You can view the tentative schedule here: Convention Schedule.

Training and Certifications Promoted by VetSec

Veterans are a valuable commodity to all employers. Many entry-level positions within the IT field do not require a four-year degree, but some specialized training. 

Amazon has sponsored a program called AWS Educate, which is a program that supports U.S. veterans, transitioning service members, and their spouses by providing access to cloud computing resources and training.

The Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE) is an amazing resource sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and offers free online cybersecurity training for the US military and veterans. They have a comprehensive training catalog offering courses for various skill levels and career fields.

Vetforce offers free Salesforce training and certification for veterans. They seek to upskill the military community with high demand technology skills to prepare them for careers in IT.

Next Steps to Take

I have already registered for this amazing event, and if you wish to attend, register here! Make sure to have your LinkedIn profile information handy when you register. If you are not yet on LinkedIn, I highly recommend securing your account at www.linkedin.com

If you have experience in the IT or cyber fields and want to speak at the convention, use this link to connect with VetSec.

To make a donation and help fund this and future events, VetSec accepts PayPal donations

If you have questions about VetSec Inc. or VetSecCon 2020, reach out. Here’s their contact information:

Website: www.veteransec.org

Phone: (360) 362-0225

Email: info@veteransec.com

VetSec Inc. is one of those organizations that I love to highlight because of the support they provide to the military community. I believe we need more veterans in every career field, and VetSec is making that a reality by focusing their efforts on transitioning our sisters and brothers into Information and Cyber Security careers. 

I’ll see you at VetSecCon 2020!

(Image courtesy of VetSec Inc.)

 

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Myths About Military Spouses

Military Spouse Myths

Becoming a military spouse can be daunting. Moving away from the family and friends you grew up with and in some cases, leaving the comforts of your own country, can be stressful. Many people do not realize that all military spouses are different. Each spouse has their own way of living, making for conflicting rumors within the spouses circle.

Though it may be intimidating to attend your first spouses club meeting or just attending a family day at the unit, there is truly nothing to be afraid of. Most spouses want to help make the transition as smooth as possible for you, but it is important to debunk the myths that have been floating around the military since its beginning.

Military Spouses Are Happy All the Time

Even if it does seem this way, military spouses are just as human as spouses of civilians. They still get stressed out about moving across the country, or seeing their loved one get deployed to an undisclosed location but they seem to do it with a smile on their face. They feel the need to be the rock in their family, showing their children or outsiders that everything is going great, even though on the inside they could be just as sad or worried as everyone else. Showing your confidence and positive attitude is great, but it is also important to express the not so positive emotions. There are always other spouses to lean on who understand exactly what you are going though, and they are very likely to lend a helping hand when need be.

Military Spouses All Want (or Have) Children

Though it may seem that way, not every military spouse wants or has children. There are many couples that want to wait to grow a family outside the military so they are able to be in one place for a long time and be around family. There are also plenty of families that just want to keep dogs or cats as children while they are in the military. Other couples do not want children at all or have children that have already left home. Every family is unique in the military and it is important to know that there are spouses of all ages, don’t be afraid to make friends with someone that is older or younger than you!

Military Spouses Are All The Same

Back to the point about all spouses are from different areas of the country, or even the world. Each spouse was raised differently, and is entitled to their own views. Many people have their own way of meeting friends and creating relationships that last, some will go to the gym and others will become friends with the active duty service members. There are many different types of people you will meet and being open minded to a friendship that you wouldn’t traditionally make can be a lifesaver.

Military Spouse Are Never Employed

Yes it may be difficult to find a hold onto an employment opportunity due to the constant moves, but it is not impossible. Many military spouses find employment online so they can keep their job with them, no matter where they end up. Other spouses will continue education and attend local or online universities to keep improving themselves. Many spouses will get into a field that will allow them to find an opportunity even with the constant changing schedule. It is also important to remember that with constant travel and moving to new and exciting places, there is always a way to boost your resume and get a unique experience.

RELATED:  Military Spouse Employment: Most Common Struggles

Military Spouses Are Overly Concerned About Rank and Job Title

There may be a few spouses that are concerned, but for the most part, it doesn’t matter who you become friends with. The rank of your spouse may have an influence on who you become friends with due to the fact that those people are going to be the ones that your spouse will befriend but, there is no written rule for spouses. Becoming friends with someone who has a spouse that is a sergeant, while your spouse is a second lieutenant may sound weird but odds are you may be the same age and have the same interest. With an already small community, why dwindle it down?

 

Military Myths Series:

 

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Careers at the Department of Veteran Affairs

VA Careers For Veterans

A career with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) comes loaded with comprehensive benefits, competitive pay, and other generous perks to help build a fuller, more balanced life for you and your family. VA has an unwavering commitment to support veterans, and that includes helping them build rewarding careers within the VA health care system.

VA gives Veterans—particularly those with disabilities—hiring preference for any available positions. VA values the special skills and unique perspectives Veterans bring to the table. They fully understand that by sharing your experiences you can continue a life of service, helping other veterans heal and cope with being back home.

The VA also recognizes military spouses are educated, qualified and ready to serve the nation’s veterans and their families. That is why VA partners with the Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership program to help recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses in meaningful careers at VA.

Different Careers For Veterans Available at VA

Below are some of the health care and employment opportunities available at VA.

Nursing

Nurses are at the heart of VA’s world-class, patient-centered standard of care. Day in and day out, they go the extra mile to make a lasting difference in the lives of our Veterans and their families. As part of Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACTs), nurses play a crucial role in Veterans’ long-term, holistic health. They work collaboratively across disciplines and treatment settings with a designated medical team—and other community resources—to help coordinate the full spectrum of patient care. And they do it all with a gentle humility and patience that keeps Veterans’ spirits lifted.

Physicians Careers

As a physician at VA, you have more than a job—you serve Veterans who have borne the battle with honor. In carrying out this mission, you will discover a career with competitive pay, opportunities for growth and mobility, a wealth of benefits and rich rewards.

Mental Health Hiring

VA understands the unique challenges Veterans face when returning home and transitioning back to civilian life. The VA’s Mental Health professionals expertly tailor treatment plans that meet patients where they are, ease their symptoms and help them achieve wholeness.  Mental Health at VA focuses on recovery, coordinating care that empowers Veterans and their families to take charge of their wellbeing and pursue fuller lives. From counseling and emergency services to telemedicine and social work, VA does what it takes to help Veterans reclaim their mental and emotional freedom.

Dentistry

At VA, their dentistry professionals can pursue opportunities to conduct research either independently or in association with VA’s dental practice-based research network known as VADER (VA Dentists Engaged in Research). VADER gives you the chance to engage in clinical studies designed to answer questions faced by VA dentists in the routine care of their patients. VADER works closely with the VA Dental Education Program in the dissemination of research findings, and with the VA Oral Health Quality Group in the development of quality measures for VA dental practices. The VA Dental Education Program offers training for new, inexperienced, and/or upcoming dental chiefs, assistant dental chiefs, and lead dentists. In addition, VA dentists are well-published in nationally recognized professional journals, and many have been elected to leadership positions in national health care organizations and at VA Veterans Integrated Services Network (VISN) levels.

Pharmacists

VA is pushing beyond tradition to give pharmacists more direct influence on the course of patient care. By enabling them to apply their skills in new ways—from leading-edge research to preventative services and behavioral counseling—VA is delivering accurate, effective treatment to more Veterans in need. At VA, pharmacists are valued members of interdisciplinary care teams and are given greater autonomy to make clinical decisions on patients’ behalf. On our pharmacy team, you are sure to experience unbeatable satisfaction in a career that makes full use of your training and passion.

Administrative and Technical Professionals

When it comes to ensuring Veterans receive the best health care available, it takes all kinds of talented, dedicated professionals. VA administrative and technical teams keep the gears turning behind the scenes, in finance, human resources, IT and beyond. At VA, you can help change lives in a variety of settings, making decisions that are essential to the smooth, efficient flow of services to our patients. No matter your field of expertise, VA has dynamic career paths that bring out the best in you and transform your passion for serving Veterans into real-world impact.

Support Services

With a host of training and educational resources available, VA continually invests in the potential of all its support staff, helping them exceed their goals. It is a way to experience a more satisfying career with the added fulfillment of changing Veterans’ lives.

Students and Trainees

For more than 60 years, the VA has partnered with affiliated colleges and universities across the country to train new health care professionals and enhance Veteran health care. VA conducts the largest medical education effort in the U.S., with over 120,000 participants receiving training in 2017. The VA is proud that so many of these professionals accept permanent positions on the team, after getting a glimpse into life at VA. With the number of training and educational opportunities available to accelerate your career growth, it is easy to see why. Visit the Office of Academic Affiliations to explore all VA has to offer.

If you are a Veteran or military spouse interested in career opportunities with VA, feel free to email the Veterans Employment Services Office (VESO) for guidance. Find other helpful employment resources, including a military skills translator, resume builder and more at www.vets.gov/employment.

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Mentorship Opportunities for Veterans

Mentorship Services for Veterans

Mentorship doesn’t have to end when your military service does. There are organizations out there that offer veterans mentors with the purpose of guiding them to valuable careers after their service ends.

Mentorship is often misunderstood in today’s society. In fact, I believe that many problems people face in life could actually be solved by having a mentor, someone to guide us through any of the challenges that face us every day.  

Military members are used to mentorship. At the beginning of my career in the mid-1990s, I received mentorship from various leaders that made me a better soldier. Two decades later, as my career came to a close, I was mentoring junior leaders and soldiers who were just beginning their careers.

American Corporate Partners

The American Corporate Partners (ACP) offers a virtual 1-on-1 mentoring program that assists veterans with career development, networking, and general mentorship. Veterans are paired with a mentor and can expect 12 mentorship sessions, happening once a month. 

Many of the mentors are from Fortune 500 companies and are experts in their industries. Their goal is to give back to those who have served their country in the armed forces. Veterans and mentors are matched by ACP so as to provide for the best experiences for both parties. One notable mentor has been George Oliver, the CEO of Johnson Controls.

Who is Eligible?

Any post 9/11 Veteran who has served for at least 180 is eligible for the ACP mentorship program. The ACP also welcomes active duty spouses. All Veterans may also access Advisor Net, which is an online networking resource that is a great place to ask questions of numerous advisors and find new networking opportunities. There are discussion boards and even private messaging available on Advisor Net.

How to Apply?

Visit their website, www.ACP-USA.org, and fill out an application. It only takes about 10 minutes. You will be expected to answer questions about your background, interests, military experience and mentorship preferences, such as gender or Veteran preferences.

After you apply, you can expect a call from ACP within 24 hours, according to their website. They will schedule a 15-minute phone call to ask a few clarifying questions to match the applicant with the perfect mentor.

Veterati

Since 2016, Veterati has been offering their mentorship platform to service members, veterans, and military spouses across the country. They have partnered with the nation’s leading Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) and military employers to offer free, on-demand mentoring to the entire military community.

Their mission is to help unemployed/underemployed veterans and spouses find meaningful employment, and they are driven by the idea that 80% of job opportunities are accessible only through personal networks. Veterati strives to be your personal network.

Mentors from Veterati deliver the following support for transitioning and transitioned service members and their families:

  1. Personalized Advice – A mentor will make contact and offer mentorship for your specific situation and desires.
  2. Questions and Coaching to discover new possibilities – A mentor will assess where you are and where you want to go, and help you plan to get there.
  3. Insider job search tips – Job hunting is already difficult, but having tips and advice from a mentor can give you an edge that may land you a job.
  4. Introductions – Networking is huge when it comes to job hunting. Having the right connections greatly increases your chances of employment.

How to Sign Up?

Head to the Veterati Sign Up page where you will be prompted to sign in with your LinkedIn account. (Follow the link if you don’t already have one.) Sign up takes about a minute and there are no fees or limits to how many mentors you can talk to.

Heavy Hitting Veteran Support

Veterati maintains strong partnerships with other organizations like the USO, Hiring our Heroes, and IAVA. If you are transitioning, check out their Transition Center, where you can have your transition questions answered directly by mentors and other mentees. 

FourBlock

FourBlock supports veterans to successfully navigate their transitions by providing the education, mentorship, and relationships needed during that process. Their focus is on helping veterans build professional networks that will lead them to a hiring manager.

This organization is composed of Fortune 500 companies and top universities. Add the transitioning veteran, and they will learn through a blended online and in person program developed in partnership with Columbia University.

How to Apply?

If you’re interested in applying to FourBlocks mentorship program, head to their application page and fill out the webform. They will ask for your LinkedIn profile information, as well as information related to your military service. You will be required to upload your proof of military service, usually your DD214. If you’re active duty, you can still apply, but you’ll need to upload a copy of your current orders and a valid, government-issued ID. (They do not want you military ID.)

Check out their Schedule to see if there is a program starting near you.

Next Steps

If you are a veteran or military spouse, leaving the security of the service can be stressful. Luckily, there are numerous organizations out there, many of which were founded by veterans like you, that want only to clear that path to your next career.

I encourage you to take advantage of the mentorship opportunities offered by these great organizations. 

(Photo by Medienstürmer on Unsplash)

 

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These Companies Provide Apprenticeship and Training for Veterans

Veteran Apprenticeship and Training Programs

In an effort to showcase their commitment to the U.S. Military, there are a number of companies that offer apprenticeship and training programs specifically for veterans. Oftentimes, this can lead to an offer of employment once a program is completed.

In 2019, Veterans made up about 8% of America’s adult population.  For companies there are significant benefits to hiring veterans, such as their:

  • Accelerated learning curve
  • Team working abilities
  • Efficient performance under pressure

These companies recognize the value in veterans’ frequently-untapped skillsets. We’ve compiled information from three of those companies – Microsoft, Amazon, and Volvo.  Hopefully this will help shed light on the viable, possibly unknown options out there for veterans to take advantage of.

 

Find job opportunities for military, veterans and spouses with CareerRecon!

 

Microsoft Apprenticeship and Training Opportunities for Veterans

Microsoft Software Systems Academy or MSSA is an 18-week (or two 9-week terms) intensive-training program that started in 2013 to provide veterans with further development of critical, technology-based skills for today’s growing industry. To enroll, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be active duty personnel transitioning out of the military within 6 months or be a recently honorably discharged veteranctive duty service members would go through the program as their duty assignment on base or on a local community campus)
  • Current security clearance strongly preferred
  • Interest in IT with no requirement of previous experience
  • Must demonstrate technical competency for chosen specialization.  This can be done by earning either the applicable Microsoft Technology Associates (MTA) or Computer Technology Industry Association (COMPTIA) Certifications

Enrollees participate in both classroom and hands-on training in tech products and skills. Those who graduate from the program have the opportunity to interview for a full-time jobs.  These jobs be at Microsoft or one of their 280 hiring partners in career fields such as:

  • Cloud development
  • Cloud administration
  • Cybersecurity administration
  • Database/business intelligence administration

 

Did you know…the average male veteran makes an estimated annual salary of $42,000.  The average female veteran makes an estimated annual salary of $35,000.

Amazon Apprenticeship and Training Opportunities for Veterans

With a dedication to hiring 25,000 military veterans and spouses by 2021, Amazon Web Services has created numerous programs that help develop valuable technical skills and lead to successful careers within the company.  Such potential jobs could be in:

  • Software development
  • Support and data center operations
  • Military recruitment

In 2016, the Amazon Technical Apprenticeship was established.  The program was intended to create an avenue for transitioning veterans and military spouses seeking careers in cloud computing. It consists of 10-20 weeks of paid, full-time training. That is then followed by up to 12 months of paid, on-the-job training and mentorship.  These help participants to build technical skills and grow as professionals.

Ideal candidates:

  • Have military experience in communications, intelligence, cyber security or possess industry-recognized IT certifications
  • Were active military within the last 6 months, a Guard/Reserve member, veteran, or a military spouse
  • Have an active security clearance

The apprenticeship is partnered with state/federal government, so reach out to the VA to see if you qualify for additional GI Bill benefits while enrolled. For more information, visit Amazon’s career website.

Volvo (and CALIBRE) Apprenticeship and Training Opportunities for Veterans

Just last month, Volvo launched a new technician program known as the Volvo Car USA Veteran Technician Careers Program. The program provides the opportunity to veterans for a smoother transition into the civilian workforce.  In addition, it allows military-learned skills to be put to use.

The comprehensive program will utilize resident training and e-Learning in an effort to give veterans a chance to break into an automotive career.  This program takes place in collaboration with CALIBRE Systems. Through this initiative, Volvo and CALIBRE aim to annually provide jobs for 120 U.S. military veterans. Eligible hopefuls are:

  • Honorably discharged military veterans or currently-serving members of the National Guard or Reserve
  • Have three or more years of experience in vehicle maintenance and repair
  • Possess a clean driving record
  • Can pass a series of background checks and drug testing.

Candidates who meet that criteria can apply to participate in a 4-week instructor-led and on-the-job training program.  This represents a full-time job opportunity at a local, participating Volvo Cars Retailer.

Upon completion of the program, selectees can participate in a 12-month U.S. Department of Labor and GI Bill-approved registered apprenticeship. Those entered into the apprenticeship have the option to utilize GI Bill benefits to receive a monthly housing allowance stipend for a full 12 months during the apprenticeship.  This is on top of regular pay and benefits, given that they are eligible to receive such benefits (see here to determine eligibility or reach out to a VA representative).

Upon favorable completion of the apprenticeship program, candidates will be fast-tracked towards a new career.  These careers may be as a Volvo Quality Technician or Hybrid Specialist at participating Volvo Cars Retailers.

Interested applicants can inquire further on the Volvo website.

Research Other Companies

Now that you’ve heard about 3 different apprenticeship/training programs, it’s time to research others.  There are quite a few other companies that offer similar training programs and even exhibit veteran-preferred hiring practices.

Veteran-only opportunities like this are valuable.  They afford a chance to truly impact one’s future in the workplace outside of the military.

 

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Top Virtual Jobs for Education Professionals OCONUS

Top Virtual Jobs for Education Professionals OCONUS

Degrees in education are among the most portable careers for military spouses. A shortage of qualified professionals contributes to a high demand for educators in the US.

Challenges related to license transfer from state to state can delay portability within the US. Employment landscape – employer requirements, local salary rates, and local level of education professional shortages – can vary significantly from region to region.

Barriers to Employment OCONUS

The list of barriers faced by spouses with education degrees becomes daunting in the OCONUS setting. Requirements to secure or renew a professional license are often vague or nonexistent for spouses moving out of the country.

Similar to spouses with healthcare degrees, education professionals face barriers related to working on a foreign economy – like SOFA agreements and language barriers. Read a more detailed outline of barriers here.

USAJobs and DoDEA Employment Application System Abyss

Staff and educational support positions – like substitute teachers, tutors, or teacher aid positions – are listed on USAJobs. This official employment site of the Federal Government has a reputation for being a major hurdle for finding employment.

DoDEA teaching vacancies are not listed on USAJobs. Strangely, they are not truly listed on the DoDEA Employment Application System either. It is through this system, however, where applications for DoDEA teaching jobs are submitted. Both USAJobs and DoDEA Employment Application Systems contain complex processes that create employment barriers for spouses.

Fortunately, online discussion boards, like the DODD Teachers Chatboard, can assist in better understanding the barriers involved in securing employment as a DoDEA teacher.

Barriers to Completing an Education Degree

Many spouses choose to continue their education through online programs. Paying for a college education while facing unemployment is not ideal.

Most teacher education programs require some amount of student teaching or internship.

Completing these requirements may involve additional steps when compared to completing the same requirements within the US. Your institution must enter an agreement with DoDDS and only minimal information on student teaching can be found on the DoDEA website.

Top Jobs for Educational Professionals OCONUS

For spouses with education degrees living OCONUS, maintaining a career can be nerve-racking – especially for families that rely on two incomes. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to utilize your training and supplement your income.

Tutoring

Multiple organizations hire tutors to provide virtual one on one support for students preparing to take tests like the ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, and advanced placement tests. Organizations with 100% remote and flexible positions include Arbor Bridge.

Countless organizations hire tutors or instructors for students learning English. Online tutoring options are available through organizations like Rosetta Stone, VIPKid, and Learnship.

Content Expert

Organizations like Freedom Learning Group are dedicated to providing career opportunities for underemployed military spouses. They do this by harnessing the expertise of spouses across the globe to develop educational content like developing test questions and writing content for textbooks. Jobs through Freedom Learning Group are 100% remote and can be filled by anyone living anywhere in the world.

Proofreader

Cambridge Proofreading is an organization that hires subject experts across the globe who hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Editors and proofreaders work remotely to improve various documents – like theses, manuscripts, essays, etc.

Education Writer

Writing – typically on a freelance basis – provides an opportunity to work remotely from anywhere. Similar to content or subject matter experts, education writers create original content for various platforms. In addition to writing content for websites, magazines, or training materials, teachers can sell education content through platforms like Teachers Pay Teachers or Outschool.

Think Temporary

Spouses experiencing an OCONUS employment landscape need to be kind to themselves. Continuing any career in this setting may feel like a giant ripple or a screeching halt. Chances are this experience is temporary. Perhaps an OCONUS living provides an opportunity to explore something new or think outside the box. The US Education system will need you when you return!

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OCONUS Jobs for Healthcare Professionals

Top 3 Jobs for Healthcare Professionals OCONUS

Healthcare degrees tend to be inherently portable. An aging population and shortage of healthcare professionals across the country results in a high demand for this field.

Within the US, challenges related to license transfer from state to state can delay portability. The employment landscape – requirements for different employers, local salary rates, and local levels of healthcare worker shortages – can vary significantly from region to region.

Barriers to Employment OCONUS

The list of barriers faced by spouses with healthcare degrees becomes daunting in the OCONUS setting. Requirements to secure or renew a professional license are often vague or nonexistent for spouses moving out of the country.

Working on a Foreign Economy

This is one of the most obvious barriers for military spouses seeking employment OCONUS. It sounds adventurous, an opportunity to learn about healthcare in another country. The following factors must be considered.

  • Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) – These agreements between the US and the host nation define what rights and privileges military families have while living in a foreign country. Depending on the specific agreement, working in the host nation may require multiple extra steps – if it is allowed at all.
  • Language Barriers – Although some spouses have a second language before moving OCONUS and the rare opportunity to work without speaking a second language may exist – proficiency in a foreign language is typically necessary. Achieving the level of B1 according to the Common European Framework is a common requirement – and that takes time!
  • Differences in Healthcare Structure – While the US generally functions as a third-party payor healthcare system, many OCONUS destinations have something closer to universal healthcare. Although they often carry the same name, healthcare roles can look very different from country to country.

For those seeking to learn a new language – utilize the free MWR library resources or military and student discounts for Rosetta Stone.

The USAJobs Abyss

Considering the uphill battle for working on a foreign economy, more traditional employment may be available through a US military installation. USAJobs is likely the most common avenue for employment – though opportunities through contracting companies may also be available.

USAJobs is the Federal Government’s official employment site. Frustration is a common reaction to navigating the application and hiring process using this system. Some reasons why include:

  • Unusual Resume Expectations – While most resumes are 1-2 pages long and succinctly hit the highlights, a USA Jobs resume is far more detail oriented and longer.
  • Complex Automated Systems – Many agencies rely on an automated system to identify key words and select the best candidates. Without fully understanding how this system selects candidates, creating a resume that the system will pull is difficult.
  • Eligibility is Independent of Qualification – What? While a person may be qualified – or even overqualified – they must fall into a hiring path to be considered eligible.
  • Competitive Nature OCONUS – What do you get when 50 unemployed healthcare professionals apply for one of five annual job vacancies? Competition. Though poorly documented, the unemployment rates among military spouses in OCONUS communities is arguably higher than within the US. This is true for vacancies through USAJobs and contracting companies.

Fortunately, USAJobs offers recurring, free, virtual webinars to help applicants tackle writing a federal resume and navigating USAJobs. Deeper understanding of the USAJobs system increases the likelihood that a resume will actually make it into the hands of a hiring manager.

Protected Healthcare Data

Just because a job is advertised as remote or called telehealth/telemedicine does not mean that the person filling that role can work from anywhere. Data security and HIPPA laws often restrict eligible applicants to a specific region within the US. Many telehealth/telemedicine jobs require employees to report to a call center. Jobs may also be advertised as remote, but still require the employee to report to work a percentage of the time.

Barriers to Completing a Healthcare Degree

Many healthcare professionals choose to continue their education through online programs. College is expensive and paying for it while you face unemployment is not ideal. Obtaining a healthcare degree often requires clinical hours – hands-on practice that supports learning. While it isn’t impossible to complete clinicals while living OCONUS, it does depend on finding a facility that supports students, an agreement between the facility and your school, and identifying a qualified preceptor.

To explore this further, contact the education department at a local military treatment facility. A good network can also help identify and navigate local options.

RELATED: Search colleges with Healthcare degrees at CollegeRecon

Top 3 Jobs for Healthcare Professionals OCONUS

For spouses anticipating a move to or already living in an OCONUS location, hurdling this list of barriers can be intimidating – and scary for families that rely on two incomes. Fortunately, there are some options to continue a career in healthcare.

Content or Subject Matter Expert

Companies like Freedom Learning Group are dedicated to providing career opportunities for underemployed military spouses. They do this by harnessing the expertise of military spouses across the globe to develop educational content like developing test questions and writing content for textbooks. Jobs through Freedom Learning Group company are 100% remote and can be filled by anyone living anywhere in the world.

Health Writer

Health writing affords an opportunity to work remotely from anywhere. Similar to content or subject matter experts, health writers create health-related content. Health writing is often done on a freelance basis. The Savvy Scribe is one platform to learn more about launching a career as a health writer – learn more by listening to the podcast.

Educator

An ongoing shift to distance education may provide opportunities for spouses with healthcare degrees to work remotely as course instructors. Start by searching fully online institutions like American Public University System or Wester Governor’s University. Then dig for leads teaching subjects like Medical Terminology or Anatomy and Physiology.

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These options require more effort than a traditional job search, but can provide supplemental income. Remember to keep in mind the differences in time zones. Networking will be extremely beneficial when searching for virtual and remote jobs available to OCONUS spouses.

Think Temporary

Spouses experiencing an OCONUS employment landscape need to be kind to themselves. Continuing a healthcare career in this setting may feel like a giant ripple or a screeching halt. Chances are this experience is temporary. This transition may be an opportunity to explore something new or think outside the box. The US Healthcare system will need you when you return!

 

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New Virtual Paid Fellowship for Veterans and Military Spouses

New Virtual Paid Fellowship for Veterans and Military Spouses

Partnering with Salesforce (formerly known as Vetforce), Hiring Our Heroes announced a new paid fellowship program for veterans and military spouses on May 21st.

This program works to mitigate problems like overcoming employment barriers in the military community and bridging the digital skills gap. Unlike many other fellowship programs, this program teaches high-demand skills while providing income.

Applicants are less restricted by geographical location with virtual fellowships. This has always been important for families that PCS often. Virtual opportunities are also important when travel is restricted during COVID-19.

What is a digital skills gap?

COVID-19 has further accelerated the shift to virtual and remote work. Growth in the use of technology has resulted in a divide between human labor and what is accomplished by machines, algorithms, and cloud computing. This translates to a high demand for technology skills and a relative deficit of qualified applicants.

Veterans and military spouses have access to  free opportunities for adding certifications to their resumes and qualify them for these high demand, profitable, and portable careers.

The Salesforce Fellowship Program is an innovative program that provides the tools for

veterans and military spouses to capitalize on employment opportunities. Not only does the program fill the rapidly expanding digital skills gap, it aims to connect veterans and military spouses with host companies on a deeper level than filling vacancies.

What is Salesforce?

Substantial growth in cloud computing has arguably contributed to growth in Salesforce – a cloud-based software company focused on customer relationship management. Committed to building in-demand technology skills among military community members, Salesforce builds relationships between its network of talent and companies dedicated to hiring veterans and military spouses.

About the Salesforce Fellowship

This hands-on experience completed virtually over 12-weeks is a paid opportunity. Veterans and military spouses who have completed a Salesforce certification are eligible to apply. If selected, fellows are matched with host companies based on their skill set.

Application Deadlines

  • Cohort 1 – November 6, 2021
  • Cohort 2 – April 16, 2021
  • Cohort 3 – July 1, 2021

Apply for a Salesforce Fellowship.

Host companies benefit from the Salesforce Fellowship. At no cost to their organization, they are connected with qualified professionals and a pathway to a deeper understanding of the veteran and military spouse talent pool.

How to Complete a Salesforce Certification

Verify your status as a veteran, active duty, national guard, reserve, or military spouse with TroopID. Then use Trailhead Military to complete self-paced virtual training and earn vouchers for Salesforce classes and certification exams for free.

For those who need a “softer landing,” Salesforce has partnered with Merivis to offer combined virtual and in-person training in Texas, Washington, and Washington DC. This hybrid format provides active duty, reserve, guard, veterans, and military spouses with a personal coach and successfully passing a certification exam.

How much does the Salesforce Fellowship Pay?

Fellows receive $25 per hour during the fellowship. Participation can open doors for profitable careers. Though salaries vary by location and experience, Salesforce certifications – like Administrator, Developer, or Consultant – can lead to annual salaries over $70,000.

Is the Fellowship Available OCONUS?

Unfortunately, no. Due to local hiring restrictions and SOFA agreements, the fellowship cannot be offered OCONUS.

Salesforce Military Employer Partners

With the goal of accelerating the hiring of veterans and military spouses, Salesforce Military Alliance Partners commit to automatic interviews for Salesforce Military applicants and providing Salesforce training and placement in Salesforce roles for existing military connected employees.

Veteran and Military Spouse Owned Partner Employers include:

  • America’s Warrior Partnership
  • Blue Star Families
  • Cheshire Impact
  • Cloud for Good
  • Cloud Pathfinder
  • Emelar Consulting Group
  • Kicksaw
  • Liberty IT Solutions
  • Merivis
  • Provisio Partners
  • Shift
  • SifData
  • SitRep Digital
  • The Mission Continues

COVID-19 has led to a recent spike in the number of veterans filing for unemployment benefits. It has also accelerated the shift to virtual and remote work and created paid opportunities to learn skills that can lead to a high demand, profitable, and portable career.

 

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4 Career Paths For OCONUS Spouse

Ideas for OCONUS Spouse Career Paths

The appeal of a nursing degree to a military spouse is undeniable. If they are lucky, they will be stationed near a fairly large town with plenty of health care positions to be filled. However, some will be limited to opportunities on the base alone. This is the much more likely scenario for overseas (OCONUS) postings.

The medical facility positions are highly sought after, and therefore very difficult to get. Working off base is an entirely different undertaking, with additional visa requirements and host country taxes, and in most cases a likely language barrier. Not to mention that nursing simply isn’t for everyone. Here are four more unique paths with qualifications that can be earned remotely and used for jobs that can be performed online and overseas with ease.

Earn a Medical Coding Certificate

This could be a good alternative for someone who has an interest in the medical field, but cannot get a position on base. Many medical coding jobs can be done remotely, and they pay very well— the average annual salary is around $55k. A medical coder takes in information on patients and their treatments and translates them into billable codes for the use of the hospital and insurance companies. All you need to start in this field is a certification, of which there are several types to choose from. The foremost certification associations are the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).

Become a Personal Trainer

Physical fitness is hugely important in the military. As a certified personal trainer, you could help active duty members to pass their yearly physical training test, as well as work with spouses and dependents who might feel overwhelmed or uninspired by the gym. You could also offer your services completely online, working with clients on diet and exercise planning. To start a personal training certification program, you need a high school diploma or GED, as well as certifications in CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator). These can be completed with organizations like the American Red Cross. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Ace Fitness are two of many online certification programs for personal training.

Get a Degree in Library and Information Science

A degree in library sciences offers surprisingly broad utility. Not only would it make you eligible for positions in base libraries and schools, but also in off base learning institutions (most people working and studying at European Universities are highly proficient in it). Even places like museums and art galleries require staff with the knowledge base that this degree provides. There are also many opportunities for remote jobs with a degree in this field, such as:

  • Archivist
  • Tutor
  • Researcher
  • Freelance Writer

Below are some fully online programs in this field of study, of which there are many more to choose from—just be sure the program is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). You can use this school finder app from CollegeRecon to search for this program at military friendly institutions.

Be a Virtual Assistant

In the current climate, many large companies are looking to permanently reduce the number of their on-site employees; especially those whose jobs can be done remotely. This makes now the perfect time to become a virtual assistant. Virtual Assistants might focus on blogging, social media interaction, general administration, scheduling, content creation, or likely some combination of these. If you are detail-oriented and able to multi-task —two of the military spouse’s strongest traits—this could be a great career to travel with you. A degree is not required to get started, either. There are several ways you could find work in this field:

  • Build your business from the ground up, by making a website and networking to find clients
  • Utilize a job board platform like Flexjobs 
  • Work for a company that hires virtual assistants out to other clients, like Virtual Assistant Talent

Building a career while moving around the world can be so difficult as to feel impossible at times. The key is to utilize your hard-learned resiliency as a military spouse, and not be afraid to think creatively about how you could best use your talents.

 

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SBA Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program

SBA Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program

If you are a service-disabled veteran and small business owner, you may qualify to compete for special government contracts.

There is plenty of annual funding set aside for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses. The US Small Business Administration reduces competition for these small businesses under the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 and Title 13 Code of Federal Regulations.

The government spends $500 billion per year on contracts and aims to award at least 3% of all contracting dollars annually to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. Each agency is required to have a plan to meet the 3% prime or government contracting and sub-contracting goal.

 

>> Frustrated with your VA disability rating?  Register for a free consultation for help with increasing your rating to get the compensation you deserve.  Please go here.

 

To qualify for the contracting assistance program, a small business must be at least 51% directly owned and controlled by at least one service-connected disabled veteran. Daily operations and long-term decision making must be managed by at least one service-connected disabled veteran.

The business must be a for-profit business of any legal structure, independently owned and operated, not nationally dominant in its field, and physically located within the US.

The Small Business Administration classifies a small business by industry, affiliations, gross income, and the average number of employees. For instance, manufacturing companies with 500 or fewer employees and non-manufacturing companies earning a maximum gross income of $750,000 are considered small businesses.

What are service-disabled veteran-owned contracts? They are government awards that are set-aside by the Small Business Administration using one of the following procurement methods:

  • Sole-source noncompetitive selection. The award is directly offered to the small business because there are no contractors in the program offering the product or service or the small business has been a responsible contractor in its performance. The award can be made at a fair and reasonable price.
  • Set-aside and partial set-aside awards based on competition restricted to SCVO small business concerns (SBCs). Portions of or an entire solicitation are set aside specifically for small businesses when there is an expectation of two or more bids from qualified SDVO small businesses.
  • Reserved awards based on SDVO SBCs in solicitation for a multiple-award contract. Procurement can be broken up into smaller portions like contract line items or small business concerns.
  • Orders set-aside for SDVO SBCs against a multiple-award contract that had been awarded in full and open competition. Orders for services or delivery orders of supplies are issued under a delivery contract and set-aside for SBCs.

The program requires no formal certification, but proof of veteran statuses such as DD Form 214 and service-connected disability such as a letter from the VA may be requested. To represent your small business as a service-disabled veteran-owned to the federal government, create your business profile on the System for Award Management website SAM.gov. Your business profile will appear in the Dynamic Small Business Search database where government agencies search for small business contractors for upcoming contracts.

Are You Ready to Get Started But Need Help?

The Small Business Administration offers several avenues of assistance for newbies and experienced small business owners trying to win a government contract.

Procurement Center Representatives

Help business owners win federal contracts by viewing federal procurement and acquisition strategies before they are announced and influencing the government agency for opportunities to set aside for small businesses.

Subcontracting Program Assistance

Helps answer questions once a contract has been awarded, can help with tools to match prime contractors and subcontractors, and help market services to prime contractors.

The SBA Learning Center

Offers online courses to help small businesses understand contracting.

Procurement Technical Assistance Centers

Helps small businesses determine if they are ready for government contracting, assist with registering in the procurement databases find and bid on contracts.

SCORE

SCORE is a nonprofit association of thousands of business volunteer counselors around the country. The counseling services are free and provide online and in-person counseling and educational workshops.

Small Business Development Centers

Offer in-person free counseling and low-cost training to include assistance with procurement and contracting program support and market research.

Some federal agencies have offices in place to identify opportunities to work with small businesses usually called the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization or Office of Small Business Programs. Contact the SBA’s Office of Government Contracting to get started.

Sources: EFCR website and SBA website

 

>> Frustrated with your VA disability rating?  Register for a free consultation for help with increasing your rating to get the compensation you deserve.  Please go here.

 

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Improving Professional License Transfers for Military Spouses

Military spouses often experience career turbulence related to frequent PCSs and deployments. Imagine earning a degree or maintaining a professional license while the constant threat of being uprooted lurks in the shadows. This can cause a lot of anxiety, seemingly unanswerable questions, and financial strain.

License Transfers for Military Spouses: How to Improve

In February 2020, the Department of Defense provided a report to Congress titled Military Spouse Licensure: State Best Practices and Strategies for Achieving Reciprocity. This report provides paths to improvement for states’ licensing practices. The long-term solutions outlined in this report include the full implementation of interstate compacts.

Military Spouse Residency Relief Act

While it’s obvious where you physically live, navigating residency and domicile can be complicated for military spouses. Where you claim residency and domicile can impact the process of renewing or transferring licenses.

The Military Spouse Residency Relief Act is a 2018 Amendment to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act designed to allow military spouses to choose to establish residency in the same state as their active duty service member or to establish residency with each PCS. Your state of residency, however, could influence the cost and eligibility of licensure in some states.

Transferring a license or certification to a new state often requires licensing fees and military spouses arguably go through the rigmarole of license transfer more frequently than civilians holding the same licenses. As of 2018, military spouses are eligible for up to $1,000 in reimbursement for licensure and certification costs resulting from PCS moves.

Many states support military spouses through expedited applications, issuing temporary licenses, or recognizing existing licenses from other states. The US Department of Labor provides a Military Spouse Interstate License Recognition Options map provides an overview of the rights of military spouses in all 50 states.

Agreements that Improve License Transfer Processes

Eliminating barriers to license transfer has clear benefits for military spouses – reducing costs and limiting periods of unemployment. It also has benefits for the general public. Many career fields that meet the needs of the community – like healthcare – suffer from a shortage of qualified workers in that field. Expediting licensure processes and eliminating barriers improves the number of qualified people in the workforce.

Attorneys

Attorneys can connect through the Military Spouse JD Network which supports spouses in the legal profession through advocacy, education, and through networking. Attorneys are required to hold a separate license in each state – a process that can take up to a year and cost thousands of dollars.

  • There is progress to be made: many military spouses have passed 3 or 4 different bar examinations.

Emergency Medicine

The EMS Compact has been planned since 2012 and requires expedited licensure processing for veterans, active duty military members, and military spouses who hold emergency medicine certifications (EMR, EMT, paramedic). It is anticipated to be fully operational in 2020.

  • There is still room for improvement: only 20 states currently participate.

Nursing

The Nurse Licensure Compact allows licensed nurses to continue practicing in other states – including practicing telemedicine – without having to obtain additional licenses. This agreement has been supporting healthcare improvement for over 18 years.

  • There is still room for improvement: just 34 states are members of the compact.

Physical Therapy

The Physical Therapy Compact makes physical therapists and physical therapist assistants eligible to work within multiple states. Several states waive fees for active duty military, veterans, and spouses.

  • There is still room for improvement: only 20 states currently participate.

Physicians

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact expedites licensure for physicians already practicing medicine and allows them to practice in multiple states.

  • There is still room for improvement: just 29 states participate in the compact.

Psychology

The Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact was developed primarily to promote the use of telepsychology. It is not yet fully operational, but when it is, it will decrease barriers for those in the field of psychology.

  • There is still room for improvement: less than 10 states participate.

The Bottom Line

The employment landscape for military spouses who hold professional licenses is improving. But there is progress to be made. These compacts are not perfect. If you are preparing to PCS, contact the licensing board in the state you are moving to for specific details about your rights as a military spouse in that state and license transfer requirements.

MissionLICENSE was co-founded by a military spouse and attorney. This organization supports and advocates for military spouses in navigating licensure transfers from state to state in any profession. If you aren’t finding the answers you need, perhaps this organization can support you in successfully transferring a professional license.

 

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How to Prepare For and Find a Remote Job

Preparing for and Finding a Remote Job

Landing a remote job can seem daunting if you’ve never considered remote work before and don’t know where to begin; however, it is becoming more and more common for companies to be fully remote or for companies to offer remote positions. For military spouses this means you can take your job with you, a huge benefit which enables you to maintain your skills and salary through various assignments. Whether you are looking for a remote job or considering it for the first time here are a few tips to get you on the right path.

Join Community Groups

On social media there are remote work community groups dedicated to helping people find remote jobs. Remote work community groups are a forum to share tricks of the trade and share tools and resources for landing remote jobs. These groups are a fantastic venue to ask questions to those already working remotely. The Paradigm Switch is one example of a remote work community group for military spouses.

Gain Remote Work Experience

Companies will rarely hire someone with no remote work experience, so build your remote work portfolio by finding remote volunteer positions. Remote Volunteer work can help expose you to the remote world and gain resume-worthy experience. Volunteering also provides you an opportunity to see if remote work is right for you.

Join Military-Friendly Job Boards

Consider two things when deciding what job board to be a part of:

Is the job board military-friendly?

Many companies don’t understand or know the value of the military community. Find a job board that has already done the leg work for you in explaining the value the military community has to offer. Military-friendly job boards include Hire our Heroes, Spouse Education and Career Opportunities Program, Corporate America Supports You, and Recruit Military.

Does the job board post remote jobs?

There are many job boards dedicated to the military community that don’t always post remote jobs. Vertforce is a military-focused job board dedicated to finding remote jobs. Research job boards to see if they have partnered with companies in your desired industry as well.

Search for Remote Work

When searching for remote jobs on a job board use keywords such as “remote”, “virtual”, and “telework”. When searching for remote jobs using a search engine uses keywords such as “completely distributed”, or “100% distributed company” this will narrow the field down to what you are looking for.

Also, remember to tap into local resources as companies are willing to hire remote workers who are already local. Make sure business profiles on networking sites indicate you are looking for remote work and clearly indicate what career field or position you are looking for. This distinction will help recruiters identify you more easily.

Sign-up for Mentorship

Mentorship is a great way to receive one-on-one guidance to achieve your career goals. A mentor will be able to help you establish a career path, update your resume, expand your network, and recommend training and certifications you might need. The military community has a variety of free mentorship programs such as Americans Mentoring Veterans and ACP Mentorship Program.

Build Your Skills

Use your time strategically by taking a certification course or sign up for an industry-specific training. This will help to build your resume as well as show future employers that you take initiative.

Great resources for training and certifications include The Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Salesforce Military,  The Federal Virtual Training Environment, and Skillsoft to name a few.

 

Breaking into the remote world is not easy, but by joining remote work community groups, gaining remote work experience, and identifying the right job board you will set yourself up for success. You might not land the first remote job you apply for, but that’s OK, keep putting yourself out there. Continually advance yourself through education, training, and be open to opportunities to gain experience and you will be ready when the right job comes along.

 

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Hiring Our Heroes: Overview of Programs

Hiring Our Heroes Programs

One of our nation’s most cherished populations is the military community. It represents all races, ethnicities, and religions and is the most diverse demographic the world has ever known. As such, there are numerous challenges unique to this community, the greatest being the transition from military service back into “normal” life. Within this challenge are education and employment.

Gratefully, there are countless organizations that work solely to improve this transition by offering services and information relevant to each transitioning service member. One of those is Hiring Our Heroes.

This organization is a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and has been around since 2011. Their mission is to “connect the military community with civilian companies to create economic opportunity and a strong and diversified workforce.” They focus on bridging the gap between military experience and the business world by offering dynamic programs to service members, veterans, and military spouses.

Programs for Service Members & Veterans

Career Summits / #HOHSUMMIT

Career summits offer interactive panel discussions focused on improving competitive employment for our military community. These events are held on U.S. military installations around the world and usually include a hiring fair and networking opportunities for job seekers. Check out their 2021 Events Calendar.

Resume Engine

HOH has partnered with Toyota to offer a resume engine which helps translate military experience and build competitive resumes. The problems many of us faced when we left the service is how to interpret our experiences into marketable skills. While there are jobs that easily transfer into the civilian workforce, many do not. I was an Infantryman in the Army, and this resume engine showed me that I had a lot of project management experience, which went beyond the assumed leadership experiences many of us get while serving.

Hiring Expos & Fairs / #HOHEXPO

HOH has partnered with professional sports organizations and they offer Sports Expos at venues across the United States. They also offer panel discussions for jobs seekers where they can connect directly with recruiters and hiring managers from local and national businesses. Often, these expo attendees receive tickets to attend sporting events and other exclusive events. You can find these events on their event calendar.

Vet Roadmap

In the service, we appreciate actionable plans. I never went on a patrol without knowing where we were going, what our mission was, and what support we had while we were outside the wire. This Vet Roadmap is an actionable plan for your transition.

The purpose of this electronic resource is to break the transition process into three actionable steps:

  1. Customize Roadmap – In this step, you enter some basic information and choose the actions you’d like to add to your roadmap. This is done in three phases: Prepare, Transition, Excel.
  2. Search Resources – This section offers tools and resources to help the transition process.It contains links to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Wounded Warrior Project, and your very own College Recon!
  3. Find a Job – This service, powered by Resume Engine, is offered to help find a job quickly. You will work with a team of experts that will guide you through the process and introduce you to the employers that are the best fit for your needs.

Corporate Fellowship Program

The Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program (CFP) is a program that offers professional training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce to transitioning service members. The program is offered three times a year and is 12 weeks long. Participants are matched with a company based on their skills and preferences, and after selection they undergo extensive on-the-job training with their host company. This allows participants to gain valuable and marketable experience in the private sector. They also participate in weekly educational sessions in a classroom setting. If you’re interested, apply here.

Programs for Military Spouses

Professional Development & Networking

Hiring our Heroes developed a Military Spouse Professional Network (MSPN) that provides spouses with career development and networking opportunities in military communities around the world. From my own experience as a military spouse, it is a challenge to find employment every time we move, especially since about 80% of jobs are filled by a referral. To help the community, MSPN operates over 55 locations throughout the United States and military installations across the globe. Click here to find a network near you.

Military Spouse Hiring Events

Hiring Our Heroes offers hiring events for military spouses that connect them directly to hiring managers and human resources experts from local and national companies. Usually, there is a networking event the evening before the massive hiring fair the following day. These events are free and open to all military, veteran, and Gold Star spouses. Click the heading above to register for an event.

Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones

These Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones (MSEEZ), are communities that address local military spouse unemployment and underemployment issues. They work to develop relationships with local stakeholders to identify barriers to entry for military spouses seeking employment. They also offer employment-related tools and the MSEEZ Playbook to help you get involved.

AMPLIFY Career Intensives

AMPLIFY is an exclusive two-day intensive that focuses on career preparation, professional development, and networking for military spouses. Participants are connected with a mentor in their industry choice who assists spouses with sessions on salary negotiations, networking skills, personal branding, and interview techniques. These sessions are also great opportunities to network with local and national employers. With the onset of COVID-19, a number of sessions have transferred to an online format. The next online offerings happen from May 28-29th, then June 25-26th. Register at the link above.

Hiring 100K

Hiring Our Heroes has sponsored an initiative called Hiring 100K, which is a three-year campaign to motivate companies and businesses to commit to hiring 100,000 military spouses. The list of committed companies is continuously growing and includes Capital One, Hilton, Lockheed Martin, and Booz Allen Hamilton. The catalyst for this initiative was the discovery that the unemployment rate for military spouses has historically been 16%, over four times the rate of their civilian counterparts. Improving military spouse employment positively affects the retention rate in the military which has elevated the importance of this campaign.

Career Spark

Career Spark is a skills-based resume builder that was built by military spouses for military spouses. It is also sponsored by Toyota like the Resume Engine described above, and it helps maximize the work and volunteer experience a military spouse has obtained. It stores the created resumes in their database and becomes searchable to thousands of military friendly employers.

Military Spouse Fellowship Program

The Military Spouse Fellowship Program (MSFP) developed by Hiring Our Heroes carefully matches candidates with participating companies based on their skills and preferences. They will also gain valuable experience in the private sector through exclusive on-the-job training. There are a number of cohorts happening in 2020 and a couple that are listed for 2021. Use this link to apply for an upcoming cohort.

If you are a member of the military community, Hiring Our Heroes has something for you. Whether it is a nearby event, a networking opportunity, or resume help, this organization will prepare you for your next career.

(Image courtesy of FotografieLink via Pixabay.com)

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Virtual Job Fairs for Military & Veterans [updated]

2021 Military and Veteran Career Fair Calendar

Updated through Oct 2021

Virtual job fairs are a great way for military and veteran job seekers to land a job.  They help by connecting you with local or national companies from the comfort of your own home. Companies are looking for a wide range of candidates from college graduates to executive-level professionals.  We’ve compiled a list of virtual career fairs for veterans and military so that you can find what you need, all in one place!

 

Virtual Career Fairs in October 2021 for Military and Veterans

 

October 7, 2021

  • Distinguished Candidate Conference for Military Officers, register here.

 

October 14, 2021

  • Virtual Polygraph-Only Hiring Event – 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT, register here.

 

October 18, 2021

  • Phoenix Area Virtual Diversity Job Fair – 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, register here.

 

October 19, 2021

  • Orange County Virtual Diversity Job Fair – 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, register here.

 

October 20, 2021

  • Dallas Area Virtual Diversity Job Fair – 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, register here.

 

October 22, 2021 

  • Virtual Job Fair Sponsored by Corporate Gray – 11:00 am – 2:00 pm ET, register here.
  • San Diego Virtual Diversity Job Fair 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, register here.

 

The Value in Military and Veteran Virtual Job Fairs

Virtual career fairs often consist of:

  • Company presentations
  • Descriptions of open positions
  • One-on-one time with hiring managers
  • On the spot interviews

Free Preparation Assistance

When organizations and agencies host virtual career fairs they want everyone to benefit, so they provide additional resources. Some of these free resources include resume writing and interview preparation before the virtual career fair begins. It is extremely beneficial to take advantage of these free resources so you are prepared for an immediate interview.

Know Which Organizations Will Be There

Most career fair registration pages also contain access to a list of what organizations will be in attendance. This is a helpful tool in deciding if this particular virtual career fair is right for you. Knowing which organizations will be attending the event gives you a chance to research the company ahead of time.  Then you will also want to research their open positions as well in the event of a one-on-one interview.

Hear Directly from Hiring Managers

This is a great opportunity to hear from hiring managers.  You can find out shat skills and education they are looking for or would consider for certain positions. Being able to connect with hiring managers one-on-one will allow you to gain understanding of what they’re looking for.  This may include what they’re looking for on resumes and cover letters.

Build Connections

Building connections with prospective employers could give you a leg up during the hiring process. Make sure to connect with hiring managers or company presenters through LinkedIn.  You can also exchange E-mails in order to maintain those connections and grow your network.

Organizations are Eager to Hire Military and Veterans

Organizations attending career fairs have open positions they are looking to fill or are collecting applications for positions opening soon. There are many benefits to attending a virtual career fair.  A major one is not wasting your time applying for positions that have already been filled.  This can occur sometimes with job postings, if they’re not updated regularly.

By preparing ahead of time for a virtual career fair you can increase your chances of getting hired.  Beforehand, make sure to take advantage of resume writing tips and interview preparation. Give yourself a competitive advantage by researching what organizations will be there and focus on building connections.

 

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May 2020 Veteran Business Highlight

Highlighting Online Veteran Businesses

Today, small businesses around the country are faced with some extraordinary challenges. While we are stuck at home, we can support those small, veteran-owned businesses with an online presence.

Our sister site, CollegeRecon, did a piece back in February that covered some really great businesses, and I want to take a moment and highlight a few more. These are business that I frequent:

GoRuck

Founded by a former Special Forces soldier in 2011, GoRuck is not just a vendor, it’s a movement. They design, build, and sell rucking gear and apparel for those with active lifestyles. “Rucking combines strength and cardio, is adaptable to anyone’s goals, based on the amount of weight carried, and is a popular, empowering activity for those who hate to run or find it boring.” They offer different sized rucks in various colors, and even have a few options for kids. The best part about their rucks is they are guaranteed for life. If you break it, they fix it. For footwear, they sponsor the MACV-1 series boot, which they sell in mid and high cut, with black or coyote suede as color options. They have a streamlined selection of high-quality training apparel, many of which are made right here in the USA. They also sponsor and host events all around the world, so check out their website to find the closest rucking group near you!

Kill Cliff

Don’t let the name fool you: the only thing their products kill is an addiction to toxic energy drinks! Founded by a former Navy Seal, this company offers various performance beverages for energy and hydration. Their products have ZERO sugar and the caffeine is from green tea, not the synthetic, laboratory caffeine the other guys use. I used to drink 6-8 energy drinks a day, loaded with sugar and man-made caffeine. Even after retiring from the Army, I could not kick ‘em. Kill Cliff allowed me to break that cycle. Now I have one of them every day and they are so much healthier than the others. They offer the IGNITE energy drink, an ENDURE hydration drink, and the RECOVER post-workout drink. I’ve tried them all, and they are amazing. They do have a small selection of merchandise, and every purchase supports the Navy Seal Foundation. They also offer discounts for military and first responders.

Grunt Style

This company creates and sells apparel with attitude! Their mission is “to deliver the highest quality, most Patriotic apparel on the planet”! They offer highly motivating t-shirts and hoodies for men and women, and they have a Grunt Style Club that ships an exclusive t-shirt every month. If you do become a club member, you get access to the Club Store which offers discounted gear and apparel that isn’t available to non-members. I’ve had a subscription with Grunt Style since last year, and I love it! I don’t like shopping for clothes, and now I don’t have to because I get a cool t-shirt every month. What I love most about their shirts, apart from the comfort and quality, is the logo on the sleeve: a pair of crossed rifles with the words “This We’ll Defend” underneath. I’m a retired infantryman who spent his last three years in the Army as a drill sergeant … it’s almost like these shirts are calling to me. Check ‘em out!

Vulcan Strength Training Systems

This company was established in 2009 and they are a 100% veteran owned business. They offer Olympic weightlifting equipment, CrossFit equipment, and everything you need for the home gym. They offer military discounts and free shipping, which is a big deal when buying things like weights! It would take too long to list all the equipment they offer, but they have tons of gear from weights and bars, strength equipment, gymnastics, and conditioning. Also, if you’re thinking about opening your own gym business, they have packages that can help get you started – and they even create custom logos for your business. My wife and I discovered this company in late 2018, as we sought better ways to prepare for the Army’s new fitness test. We turned a portion of our garage into a home gym, and we’re looking forward to filling the rest of it with more fitness gear as we go. If you’re in the market for gym equipment, this is the place to start.

These featured companies offer great products. But above all else, they are businesses that are owned and operated by our veteran brothers and sisters. Take a look.

Do you know of another great veteran business that you would like us to highlight? Shoot us an email at info@hfalliance.com.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Cloud Services Careers For the Military Community

Should You Consider a Career in Cloud Services?

Cloud Services also commonly referred to as cloud computing are services consisting of storage, networking, analytics, intelligence, software, and application design. With 90% of companies operating in the cloud it is no wonder that in 2021 the cloud services market is set to reach $300 billion. On LinkedIn alone, there are 872 cloud-based businesses looking for skilled professionals. Maybe it is time to consider learning some new skills to advance your current career or jumpstart a new one.

In the United States, there are 152,262 open positions available for cloud service professionals with the majority of jobs ranging from $93,500 to $142,000 annually. Advancing your career in cloud services opens up many employment opportunities as the need for cloud services can reach into every industry. Whether you are looking for traditional work in an office setting or a remote career, cloud services could be your next career option by utilizing free training resources available to the military community.

Free Training with Certifications Available to the Military Community

Trailhead Military

Trailhead Military is provided through Salesforce Military, which offers free training and certifications. Salesforce is a Cloud computing company that provides software platforms and solutions for companies to create custom software applications focused on customer relationship management. Salesforce Military offers online training courses, certification, one-on-one career advice, support groups, continued skill-building, and employment connections within the Salesforce ecosystem. The courses provided for cloud services range from a beginner level (requiring no previous experience) to an advanced level (possesses intermediate skills or education).

Cloud Trainings Offered                                Average annual salary

Salesforce Administrator                              $95,000

Salesforce Developer                                     $125,000

Business Analyst                                              $104,000

Sales Careers                                                     $90,275

Marketing Careers                                           $85,627

Salesforce Architect                                       $150,000

Salesforce Consultant                                    $95,000

Service Careers                                                 $74,000

Who Can Apply?

  • Active Duty
  • National Guard
  • Reserves
  • Veterans
  • Military Spouses

To learn more about the Trailhead Military program and how to sign up click here. Anyone applying for the program will be verified through Troop ID and may be required to provide documentation showing military affiliation.

Onward to Opportunity

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University launched the Onward to Opportunity Program (O2O) in 2015 that offers free training courses, professional certification, career coaching, support groups, and employment services. With courses being offered online or in-person the O2O program is a great opportunity to enter the cloud services world. The course provided for cloud services range from beginner to intermediate.

Cloud Trainings Offered                                Average annual salary

AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials           $113,932

CompTIA Cloud+                                              $73,000

Who Can Apply?

  • Active Duty – transitioning from the military within the next 6 months with an honorable discharge status
  • National Guard – active member on part-time status
  • Reserves – active member on part-time status
  • Veterans – retired or separated with an honorable discharge status
  • Military Spouses – spouse of any active-duty service member, active Nation Guard/Reserves, or Veteran

If you would learn more information about the Onward to Opportunity program or register click here. After filling out the interest form online all applicants will be screened and may be required to submit documentation that shows military affiliation.

With self-paced virtual courses, you are able to take advantage of these free training programs no matter where you are in your military journey and start a rewarding career in the cloud services industry. With companies eager to find skilled professionals and access to career coaching as well as employment connections with companies dedicated to hiring military-affiliated individuals, the sky is no longer the limit. With both programs offering career assistance throughout the process it will make starting a new career or advancing your current career in cloud services easier and more rewarding.

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How Veterans Can Grow Their Professional Networks

How You Can Grow Your Network as a Veteran

What does your professional network look like? If you are transitioning from military to civilian employment, thinking about taking college courses, or navigating your sixth PCS as a military spouse, a strong professional network can answer specific questions. You know, the ones that scouring the internet cannot.

Traditionally, networking occurred face-to-face and involved looking someone in the eye and physically shaking their hand. This is probably how you acquired the friends, coworkers and people you know through social organizations in your existing network.

Reasons To Develop A Robust Professional Network

There are many reasons why you should expand your existing network and develop a robust professional network.

  • To grow a network, you have to practice networking. When you practice networking, you are honing your soft skills – the skills needed to be successful in any career.
  • Career transitions have a funny way of creating head-scratching questions. A strong professional network can point you to answers and opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise find.
  • The majority of job vacancies are never posted online. Landing a job through a professional network is more common than you think.
  • Confidence in social situations – whether online or at a career fair – is gained through practice. Networking is professional practice.

Tools and Resources To Develop Your Professional Network

Countless professional networks already exist specifically for military community members. Taking advantage of some of these networking opportunities is an excellent way to grow your professional network.

FourBlock, a nationwide program, supports veterans in transition by helping them build professional networks that lead to meaningful employment. The FourBlock Career Readiness Program is a one semester accredited program where veterans learn to translate military skills and communicate their professional value to career opportunities and employers in the civilian world. The program is free for veterans.

LinkedIn offers a free upgrade to LinkedIn Premium to veterans and service members with ID.me accounts and military spouses with MySECO accounts – both free to open. This offer includes access to LinkedIn Learning, a library of 15,000 business, technical, and creative courses. The library includes three learning pathways specifically designed to bolster veterans, service members, and spouses in their professional careers.

  • Transition from Military to Civilian Employment Learning Pathway– Learn how to translate military skills to civilian workplaces, resume writing, networking, and salary negotiation skills.
  • Transition from Military to Student Life Learning Pathway– This bundle covers finding your purpose after active duty, test prep and writing courses, turning an internship into a job, and tackling interviews.
  • Get Ahead as a Military Spouse Learning Pathway – Learn the necessary skills of building a flexible career, professional networking, and finding work-life balance. This bundle also offers courses on freelance, remote work, and transitioning to a new company.

Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide effort by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to connect veterans, service members, and spouses with meaningful employment opportunities. Hiring Our Heroes holds Career Summits on U.S. Military Installations all over the globe that involve networking with potential employers. They also offer 6 to 12-week long Corporate Fellowship Programs that offer hands-on experience in the civilian workforce to transitioning service members and military spouses.

Veteran Mentor Network is a group of over 140,000 service members, veterans, and veteran supporters seeks to support the military community in meeting their career goals primarily through mentorship.

AWAG works to train and connect American-affiliated communities in leadership development training across the globe. They offer one and four-day seminars primarily in European military communities that invite spouses, service members, civilians, and retirees to network and collaborate in personal and professional growth.

Whether you are an active duty service member transitioning to the civilian workforce, a veteran preparing to apply to college, or a military spouse navigating a professional career, growing your network is important for success in transitions.

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Good News For Military Spouses Stationed In Far East

If you have ever been stationed overseas with your service member, you know how difficult it can be to find a good job, and to continue your career. That is why this new initiative in the Far East will be amazing for military spouses.

Often times, military spouses have to choose to stay back in the US when their service members gets orders to the far east regions on an overseas assignment. They want to continue in their careers, and don’t want to have to worry about not being able to find a job.

This new military spouse hiring initiative, lead by Stephanie Nishimori, allows military spouses to meet one-on-one with a local HR rep to review their qualifications, and to receive feedback and guidance on their career. Nishimori is a military spouse herself, and is a Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC) HR Assistant.

Families are usually stationed for two years (sometimes longer) in the far east regions and that can be a long time to step away from a career, even if the reason was because of the move. This new initiative can streamline the process of military spouses being prioritized for jobs based on spousal preference and will ensure that spouses have the right qualifications for any potential job opportunities.

Spouses will be able to go in and talk with the local HR reps, and get feedback on their resumes. Their resumes will also be sent to HR specialists that have available positions that would be right for the spouse. This will all help military spouses get hired faster and allow more spouses to be able to focus on their own careers while overseas.

In addition to allowing military spouses to continue their careers overseas, this will also help them to keep their military spouse preference and help them stay within the government hiring system, which is important for a long-term career plan.

With more programs such as this one, going overseas doesn’t have to take a military spouse out of their career, or put them in a position where they have to stay behind. This will be a good thing for military families and allow them to have a better military life experience.

You can read more information about this initiative here.

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Matching Career Options with Personality Types

“Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it”. – Katherine Whitehorn, Journalist & Columnist

Both an introvert working as a salesperson in a car dealership and an extrovert working in a quiet cubicle-divided office space would quickly realize the importance of personality matching for careers. While there are many factors to consider during a job search, such as salary, benefits, schedule, and commuting time, the work culture, environment, and expectations are important as well. These are questions that can and should be discussed during the interview for the job seeker’s awareness. What type of culture does the company possess? Is this a fast-paced, metrics or performance-driven environment? Are employees expected to work independently and with minimal oversight or is there an emphasis on team work and frequent collaboration? This information can help candidates determine If the company or the job is the right fit for them.

Personality Matching For Career Types

Strengths

All job seekers can benefit from an honest reflection of individual strengths and weaknesses and personality styles. Create a list of top strengths related to personality, work style, and habits. Perhaps you have excellent attention to detail, work well under pressure, or naturally emerge as the leader in group settings. Sometimes it’s easy to create a list of strong attributes while other times we may need some help. A great source of reference is previous performance evaluations; what did your supervisor make note of? Were you praised for supporting your coworkers or brainstorming innovative ideas to save time or money?

Weaknesses

Weaknesses are not as pleasant to focus on but are just as critical to identify. Awareness of our weak areas can promote extra attention or commitment to improving things we struggle with, or honest communication with supervisors and peers to manage expectations or prevent challenges. For example, if you are aware that time management is something you typically struggle with, you can plan for success by setting smaller milestones, check-ins with coworkers, or calendar reminders of important deadlines. 

It’s important to note that strengths and weaknesses differ from likes and dislikes. The former are not a matter of preference as much as they are a reflection of individual skills, attributes, and natural tendencies related to personality, a more innate and static representative of who we are as people and, subsequently, as professionals in a chosen career field.  Examples of this dichotomy are an introvert who truly loves being around lots of people but tends to get burnt out after too much interaction, or someone who loves to chat but isn’t necessarily the best at public speaking because they struggle with memorizing speeches. In this case, being talkative is part of personality but public speaking is an identified weakness.

During this identification and brainstorming process, consider talking to previous supervisors, coworkers, peers, friends, and family members. There is a wealth of psychosocial research indicating that how we see ourselves is often different than how others see or experience us to be. Internal biases, personal emotions, and self-confidence (or lack thereof) can positively or negatively impact how we judge our own strengths and weaknesses. Prior feedback from trusted sources or past experiences can also shape how we see ourselves. Ask those who have had the opportunity to interact with or work closely with you what they consider to be your top strengths. Is there anything they would recommend working on? Take constructive feedback and opinions into consideration and compare them to your own list.

What is Personality?

While strengths and weaknesses are things that we’re good or not so good at, personality is more of who we are and how we relate to the world around us. The American Psychological Association (2019) refers to personality as, “individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving”. Understanding how we generally tend to think, feel, and behavior will help assess whether certain working environments may be positive or negative or whether we are more likely to succeed in certain environments.

The actual process of assessing personality can be tricky, especially with individual biases and fluid perceptions or moods. It’s important to note that personality is how we think, feel, and behave most of the time. Maybe Sally is generally more agreeable and easy-going, for example, and Bill tends to be more assertive and outspoken. This isn’t to say that sometimes Sally isn’t disagreeable at times, or that Bill can’t be quiet in certain situations, but overall, they tend to exhibit a certain set of personality traits in most situations.

Here are some personality traits commonly used to describe ourselves or others:  outgoing, argumentative, uptight, calm, affectionate, antagonistic, suspicious, open, amiable, loyal, mature, methodical, caring, personable, rational, dramatic, efficient, self-critical, energetic, serious, and friendly. Traits can be classified as positive or negative (in terms of their effect) and are often grouped together. For example, someone may be described as “mature, sophisticated, and scholarly” or “serious, self-critical, and uptight”.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Many companies and government agencies use personality tests to determine if a candidate will be a good fit for a position or the culture, and whether they possess certain attributes. Job seekers can use similar tests to assess themselves. One of the most popular and well-known personality tests is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The official assessment can be taken in person or online and consists of 93 questions in four key areas: directing and receiving energy, taking in information, making decisions, and approaching the outside world (The Myers-Briggs Company). The assessment results indicate a specific personality type. A possible result, “INTJ’s” have four primary personality characteristics: Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judging. They are considered to be vision-oriented, quietly innovative, insightful, conceptual, independent, and determined. INTJ’s may be well-suited for careers as researchers, strategists, teachers, psychologists, or analysts. ESFP’s (Extroversion, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving) may consider a career in acting, child care, or coaching. The Myers-Briggs assessment can be taken independently but the Foundation recommends seeking a MBTI Certified Practitioner who can administer the assessment, analyze the results, and provide detailed feedback and recommendations.

Additional Personality Tests

Self-Directed Search: Based off the RIASEC Theory (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social,  Enterprising, and Conventional), the SDS asks questions about aspirations, activities, competencies, and interests. A report is generated that includes a summary, description of the different RIASEC types, a personalized list of recommended occupations and fields of study based on the results, salary data, career clusters, and links to resources.

Cost: $9.95

Standard SDS

SDS for Veterans

My Next Move O*Net Interests Profile: A tool provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, the interests profile narrows down career interests and associated paths for transitioning service members and veterans. Results provide information on preparation required for different careers and options based on skill level.

Cost: Free

My Next Move

The Big Five Personality Test: A quick test (about 10 minutes) that scores for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. It assesses interpersonal tendencies and how your personality traits apply to life, work, and relationships. Considered the “most scientifically sound way of classifying personality differences”.

Cost: Free

Truity

MAPP Career Assessment Test: This test is based off Myers-Briggs and analyzes preferences for completing tasks and reasoning. The results provide recommended career categories based on the Strong Interest Inventory and studies show that this is proven to be consistent over time.

Cost: Free

MAPP Career Assessment

Career Fitter: A 60-question test that assesses personality, career and job recommendations, work personality, ideal work environment, strengths, preferred management systems, and how you work in a team.

Cost: Free

CareerFitter

Job Vs. Career

Finding a career that matches with your personality, provides personal fulfillment and sense of pride, and makes you excited to go into work everyday is a worthwhile goal. Personality tests are part of a comprehensive and curious approach to the job search process. By using these available tools, job seekers can narrow down career fields and different positions that have the highest likelihood of leading to true job satisfaction.

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