12 Tips for Effectively Managing Veterans in the Workplace

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manager sitting at a desk talking with an employee

By Preston Ingalls

As both a veteran and an employer of veterans for more than four decades, I have learned a great deal about managing those who served our nation.

For example, there are some techniques that employers should consider to aid success in hiring and sustaining this group. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 21 million men and women, or 9 percent of the civilian population age 18 and over, are veterans. That is roughly 1 in 10. Of course, this includes those who served in WWII, Korea and in nonconflict times.

As a veteran, finding decent employment is not a given just because he/she served his/her country. Among men age 25 to 34, Gulf War-era II veterans had a higher unemployment rate (7.5%) than did nonveterans (6.3%). In 2014, BLS reported that among women, the unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans (8.5%) was much higher than the rate for nonveterans (5.9%). Additionally, 35- to 44-year-old female veterans had a rate of 9 percent, which is almost double the rate of 4.8 percent for their nonveteran counterparts. According to Stars and Stripes newspaper, nearly two-thirds of new veterans say they faced a difficult transition to civilian life. The simple fact is that hiring veterans makes sense because of the qualities they bring to the table that can be hard to find in other candidates.

Why Veterans Struggle to Find Jobs

One reason that veterans continue to struggle to find jobs is that those without military experience have no reference point as to how military experience translates to a potential job need. Unfortunately, many veterans haven’t learned how to translate their experiences into comparable civilian applications. When employers are unclear about the conversion of skills and experiences, they may revert back to a more comfortable position of passing over a veteran prospect. Employers should keep an open mind and make it clear on job postings and websites what they are looking for. It may simply be an issue of skills translation. Another issue is that veterans are often stereotyped by many civilian employers. Several years ago, 46 percent of human resource professionals surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cited posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental health issues as major challenges and barriers in considering employees with military experience.

The reality is that PTSD is shared by about one-fifth of current veterans, and the highest rate for veterans of any era was Vietnam-era veterans, at 30 percent. Regardless of these low percentages, the most important fact is that PTSD is often treatable with medication. The SRHM study found that many HR employees believe that veterans, who are used to following orders, cannot take initiative and are too rigid. This is absolutely false. While it’s true that veterans are conditioned to take orders, they are also trained to think on their feet when orders are not always there. Considerable training is focused on this ability to make quick decisions after gathering as much information as possible in a short amount of time.

Another concern, especially for reservists and National Guardsmen, is redeployment or activation. Employers are concerned that redeployments will result in the loss of the time and training investment of veterans. While the risk does exist, since 38 percent of the military component includes these units, it is certainly one than can be accommodated. As a nation, we have an obligation to support our military. They weren’t asked if they believed in the mission or in the values they were defending. They stepped forth so others would not have to do so.

Managing Veterans

Now that they have performed their duties to their country and have returned, we should make every effort to thank them for their service. So what do you need to consider when managing them?

  1. Get rid of the stereotypes. Judge your vet on how he/she performs, not on some preconceived notion on how you think he/she is programmed to act.
  2. Clarify the mission. Veterans were taught to focus on the mission first. Therefore, take time to clarify what the mission is for your veteran employees. It may seem obvious to you, but to someone with a great respect for the value of mission clarification, spelling out what you are doing and why you are doing it.
  3. Show the procedures. Veterans are used to seeing standard operating procedures or protocols, and understand the value of a documented process. If you have one, share it with them. If you don’t, challenge them to help develop a job aid or checklist to ensure repetition. They will respect the sequence of tasks.
  4. Provide autonomy. Once they understand what is needed and how to do something. don’t micromanage them. Challenge them with some degree of authority and responsibility.
  5. Pair up with mentors. Often, military members were assigned to a more senior person for on-the-job training (OJT). They will respect a mentor arrangement for oversight and advice. This gives them a go-to person for when they have questions and ensures they are acclimating into the organization.
  6. Explain budgets. Many military members didn’t have individual contributions or budgetary limits, nor did they really face profit and loss responsibility. It is worth the time and effort to explain costs, revenues and margins so that they understand the sensitivity toward costs in the civilian professions.
  7. Encourage socialization. The vet will see far more value in social activities with fellow workers than most other employees because they have lived in close proximity quarters and socialized with the people they worked with before coming to your company. Finding ways to get them involved in social activities could have an impact on their morale and their sense of camaraderie. This may include after-work or weekend get-togethers or company parties.
  8. Set roles and expectations. A vet knows he/she is expected to perform certain tasks. Take the time to clarify what the tasks are and how to perform them well. Explain how he/she will be measured for performance and expected outcomes.
  9. Explain context and culture. Don’t assume your vet is accustomed to the nuances of office culture. Most veterans find it difficult to get used to the office environment, even if they worked in an office atmosphere in the military. Civilian culture, the sense of urgency and the mission priority are all different, and they need to learn to adapt.
  10. Engage them. They will rarely leave their company, but may leave their supervisor. Stay in touch with them. How are they doing? Are they getting what they need to be successful? Are they adapting to the culture? Are they being recognized for their accomplishments? Is anyone listening to their ideas and suggestions?
  11. Focus on leadership. In the military, it is obvious what the pecking order is and who reports to whom. The insignia is a display of that. In civilian life, that is not the case. Take the time to explain the hierarchy.
  12. Lead by example. Veterans will have a higher expectation for leadership than most civilians. Most military leaders have received considerable training and coaching. Therefore, they are often more effective than many of their civilian counterparts. Veterans are used to being led by strong, decisive leaders who care for their people and focus on their mission.

Leadership is a skill and a character quality that most veterans possess by nature of their participation in military service. They have led troops from the early days of their military lives. This aspect will put additional attention and pressure on the civilian leaders to worker harder at leading, instead of just being the boss.

Source: This article was originally published in Construction Business Owner magazine. Visit constructionbusinessowner.com to read more.

Navy veteran utilizes leadership to trailblaze landscape architecture field

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Roberto Rovira headshot standing outside with greenery in the background

It may be hard to imagine how a former mechanical engineer and U.S. naval officer would eventually pursue landscape architecture as a career.

In the 25 years since he began his professional journey in this field, chair of the FIU Department of Landscape Architecture + Environmental and Urban Design, Roberto Rovira, discovered that the path into landscape architecture is rarely a straight line.

After serving in active duty, first sailing the Atlantic on the Chilean tall ship Esmeralda as a liaison officer, and then on the mighty USS Thach in the Pacific, South China Sea, Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf during the tense years of the Desert Storm and Desert Shield conflicts, he finished his military service honorably with a hunger for more culture and education.

Fast-forward to today, Rovira has now been appointed as the vice president of leadership for the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF). The LAF is a Washington, D.C.-based not-for-profit organization, that, through its programs and initiatives, works to increase the capacity, influence and impact of landscape architects to create a more sustainable, just and resilient future. Rovira was previously in the LAF board of directors and formerly served as vice president of research.

As an organization dedicated to the research, scholarship and leadership in the field, the LAF brings together leaders, innovators, critical thinkers, makers, builders and industry professionals focused on bringing about positive change through its commitment to sustainable landscape solutions and its support for the development of emerging student leaders and young professionals.

“My selection as V.P. of leadership at the Landscape Architecture Foundation gives me an opportunity to contribute to the thought leadership and the conversations that shape practice, academia and industry.” Rovira’s standpoint as a professional, teacher and administrator at FIU, with roots in Latin America, as well as a broad background that didn’t begin in landscape architecture, gives him a unique perspective.

As the largest Hispanic-serving institution of higher learning in the country and in one of the most climate-challenged and culturally diverse settings in the world, FIU prepared him to think broadly about what leadership means in this context and how adaptation can become opportunity as we face profound challenges to our communities and environments everywhere.

When asked what sparked his interest in landscape architecture and how that led him to where he was today, Rovira spoke on his heavy influence from Japan, where he had been home-ported for three years with the Navy and was forever shaped by its transcendent obsession with detail. Afterward, he entered the inactive reserve with an unparalleled appreciation for “how a vast and multi-faceted institution could adjust to complexity day in and day out through a commitment to leadership and a focus on its mission.”

This led to his studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, when he met an Austrian landscape architect who influenced him to pursue a Master of Landscape Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) years later.

View the full interview with Roberto Rovira here.

During his term as V.P. of leadership, Rovira plans to continue to set the standard for the LAF’s renowned awards programs. These programs are comprised of the LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership that recognizes and rewards big ideas in landscape architecture with a $25,000 grant, and the LAF Medal and the LAF Founder’s Award that recognize significant and sustained contributions to the preservation, improvement and enhancement of the environment. He also plans to build stronger bridges that strengthen academia, industry and practice.

Rovira explained that landscape architecture is uniquely poised to rise to the challenge of this unique moment in history where environment, society, economy and health are most in need of informed and thoughtful leadership. The LAF provides a platform to create better leaders by bringing together students, educators, young professionals, industry and practice leaders.

“I look forward to leveraging my position as V.P. of leadership to make our networks between practice, academia and industry more resilient and more complementary,” he added.

See the full LAF Board of Directors here.

Surviving Your Military-To-Civilian Career Transition

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Young soldier in military wear keeping arms crossed and smiling

10 Critical Transitioning Do’s And Don’ts.

Whether you planned for it or not, you are getting out of the military. Maybe you have even already walked through that door.

Welcome to life on the civilian side—where showing your ID card means flipping out your driver’s license, and the only camouflage anyone else has ever seen is on Duck Dynasty.

Your new mission in this surreal existence?
Survive the military-to-civilian career transition. Land a great job—or at least a decent one. The following do’s and don’ts will help you.

Tip #1: Do commit to a military transition program.
Whether your branch of service knows it as TAP, TAMP or ACAP … just go to those transition assistance classes! Be open to learning something new. You have to go anyway, so you might as well try to get something useful out of it. Chances are that you only think you know everything there is to know about your potential benefits and how to conduct a job search. You don’t.

Tip #2: Do take your spouse with you to the classes.
Two heads are better than one, particularly when your head is already crowded with multiple transition to-do lists. Invite, nay, beg your spouse on bended knees, to suffer through the transition classes with you. You’ll both be glad you did in the end.

Tip #3: Don’t procrastinate starting the transition planning process.
Starting the process begins with accepting its inevitability. Denial may be a comforting concept in the short term, but in the long term, it hurts you. You are getting out. Accept it. You have a life to plan. If you wait until the last possible moment to start
thinking about it, you will risk limiting your options.

Tip #4: Do create a basic résumé you can later target to specific job openings.
If you are contemplating federal employment, you’ll need a “federal” résumé. If you are targeting jobs in private industry, you’ll want to craft a “civilian” résumé. Don’t think for a minute that one resembles the other. The transition program counselor or the employment-readiness program manager at the family service center will help you figure it all out.

Tip #5: Do learn the civilian language of your chosen industry.
You say, “reconnaissance”; civilians say, “analysis.” You say, “subordinates”; civilians say, “employees.” You get the idea.
Start to acquaint yourself with the language of your chosen civilian industry so you’ll fit in better. Join industry-focused groups on LinkedIn and learn from the discussions. Review job ads for civilian jobs that incorporate their terms. Find a mentor in your chosen career field who will enlighten you.

Tip #6: Don’t misunderstand the concept of networking.
If you think that leveraging your professional relationships is tantamount to using people for your own greedy purposes, stop. You don’t understand the true concept behind networking. Networking is a good thing. You take. You give. You grow. Repeat that mantra until you truly accept it. It’s not something you just do when you’re looking for a job, either. It’s a professional skill you develop and use throughout your entire career, in or out of uniform.

Tip #7: Do invest in civilian business attire.
The shiny, black shoes issued by Uncle Sam don’t count.
Consider the industry you’re targeting and organize your post-uniform wardrobe appropriately. Watch and learn from other civilians in the workplace.

Tip #8: Don’t put all your hopes on one employer or one specific job.
You may have your heart set on one particular employer and on one particular job. That’s fine; however, don’t limit your job search
activities because you are waiting on that opportunity to pan out. You never know when a “sure thing” will crash and burn.

Tip #9: Do focus yourself.
At the very least, know what you want to do next, where you are willing to do it, and how much salary you will need to earn.

Tip #10: Don’t settle.
You might be stressed about finding a civilian job—and that’s perfectly understandable.Nevertheless, don’t settle for the first job that comes your way just because it is offered. Think through the process before you’re forced into making a hasty decision. You may not land the perfect job right out of the gate, but at least make it a job you can be content with professionally until a better one comes along.

Maximize your use of the many no-cost veteran and career resources, which include career consulting to résumé-writing to job placements. These resources are there to help empower you to succeed in your transition from military service to civilian worker.

About the Author
Janet Farley is the author of Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job (Jist Works, Inc., 2013).
Source: Quintessential Careers

The 9 Best Job Programs for Veterans Separating in 2021

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Originally posted on Military.com

While 2020 was a lost year for many Americans, it doesn’t have to affect separating military members in 2021. Some veterans programs reorganized their work to fit coronavirus restrictions; others shut down entirely.

But the most effective programs continued their training cycles.

In 2020, we highlighted dozens of organizations that want to train, hire or give veterans a leg up in the job market. These are just the best of the best and are in no particular order, because every veteran has different needs and goals.

Anyone leaving the military in 2021 (and beyond) who doesn’t know where to begin should definitely start here.

1. Federal Agencies

It should be no surprise that the world’s largest employer, the U.S. government, has job openings for veterans. What might be a surprise is just how many agencies want to train them first and even have a pipeline from the military to civilian service.

Whether you’re looking to fight wildfires, become a diplomat at the State Department, bust punks in America’s national parks or be on the front lines of the U.S. homeland security apparatus, there’s a program for you. And although there is no pipeline, veterans preference will still give you an edge when applying to the FBI or even the CIA.

There are also opportunities for wannabe truck drivers through the Department of Transportation, paid internships for would-be park rangers and more.

2. BAE Systems’ Warrior Integration Program (WIP)

For anyone who’s ever wanted to work for an American defense contractor but didn’t know how to get their foot in the door, this is the jobs program for you. BAE wants veterans to apply before they even leave the military (separated veterans are still welcome) so they can start job training right away.

The program offers on-the-job training at a real BAE location, along with mentorship, guidance through the transitioning process and (of course) a paycheck for three years while learning the job. When your time in the WIP is up, you will be a full BAE Systems employee, just like your coworkers.

Read: This Company Is Now Giving a Total Transition and Jobs Program to Separating Military Members

BAE Systems currently has Warrior Integration Program openings in New Hampshire, Alabama and Texas, but even if you don’t live there, you can still apply.

3. Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS)

Dr. Arthur Langer is a Columbia University professor who runs the nonprofit Workforce Opportunity Services. The company brings together major employers such as Prudential, General Electric and HBO, companies that need to fill critical roles. WOS then trains military veterans to fill those positions. From mechanics to Java developers, WOS has a 90% retention rate in U.S. companies.

Read: This Nonprofit Created a Pipeline System for Training and Placing Veterans in Jobs

Any business in America is welcome to come to WOS to fill its vacancies, and any veteran in America is welcome to come find job training and a place to work.

4. Microsoft

Any veteran who’s eager to join the best technical industry in the world but doesn’t know how to guarantee themselves a job should look no further than Microsoft. The tech giant looks to skilled, mature veterans to fill out its critical vacancies through the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA).

Read: Why Corporate Skills Training May Be More Valuable Than a Degree for Veterans

It’s an 18-week “reskilling” program that teaches advanced technical functions in high demand right now. At the end of the program, students will have the chance to interview with Microsoft or other tech giants in need of those valuable skills. Graduates of the program have an 80% retention rate, even without a traditional four-year degree — that’s the benefit of reskilling.

5. Army Career Skills Program (CSP)

Soldiers interested in finding a new career after the Army can look into the Career Skills Program as a means of getting that guaranteed job after leaving the military — and learn their new career while still getting that military paycheck.

Read: This Army Job Training Program Has a 93% Success Rate

Why would the Army pay soldiers to learn to leave? Because the 210 different programs offered by the Army CSP are all critical job functions the service can’t live without, but also can’t seem to find the people to do the job. Who better to work for Big Army than its former soldiers? It’s like living the Army life without the looming threat from the Green Weenie. Soldiers can choose from a slew of jobs, from auto repair to solar energy.

6. Workshops for Warriors

Hernán Luis y Prado of San Diego is a Navy veteran and the founder of Workshop for Warriors. He noticed a distinct lack of skilled trades in the American workforce, a lack he believes could cripple the American economy when the older generation of skilled tradesmen retires. So he started a nonprofit training organization designed to put veterans in those trades.

Read: ‘Workshops for Warriors’ Is Intense, Effective Training for Skilled Manufacturing Jobs

Unlike some of other programs, Workshops for Warriors requires a fee (learning or teaching a skilled trade isn’t cheap), but is covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The program has a 95% success rate in training and job placement, perfect for any veteran who wants to work with their hands.

7. Carrus

For both military members and spouses interested in health care jobs, Carrus is the place to start. CEO Misty Frost loves the mature soft skills that veterans bring to the industry when starting civilian careers, and that all the hard skills of the health care industry can be taught. So that’s what Carrus is doing.

Read: The Health Care Industry Is Looking for Vets. Here’s How to Get Free Training.

A grant from the Army Credentialing Assistance Program (ACA) allowed Carrus to expand its no-cost, short-term training program for military members and spouses. Anyone interested in free training for a new career in the health care industry should visit CareerStep.com’s Military Page to sign up for more information in the “request info” area of the page.

Read the full article on Military.com.

Think Like an Employer, Get the Job

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A male body wearing a suit that is half black and half camoflauge

By Ron Kness

Why does an employer hire people? It is not to give people jobs. It’s to add value to the company. They post a position because they have a need that must get filled to either keep the company running at the same tempo (due to people leaving the company) or because the company is expanding and has more work than people to do it.

Specifically, an employer is hiring because he wants to accomplish one or more of the following:

  • Attract more customers
  • Retain current customers by improving customer satisfaction
  • Increase product line or services offered
  • Improve a process, such as manufacturing, marketing, delivery, etc.
  • Increase operational excellence by making the company run more efficiently
  • Boost the performance of the company either in whole or in part, such as a certain section or division
  • Improve the company’s strategy
  • Maximize return on investment

Keeping these hiring reasons in mind, tailor your resume and cover letter to show how you can make a difference. How do you do that? Remember that action equals results. Take my background for example:

Quickly solve problems and prevent recurrence—When conducting After Action Reviews, I focused on the root cause of an issue and created a solution to fix problems rather than assessing blame on an individual.

Improve safety and reduce accidents—Having spent numerous hours on rifle ranges, handling hazardous materials and around dangerous equipment at the supervisory level, I know how to develop, implement and disseminate safety policy, procedures and guidelines to prevent accidents and reduce injuries.

Prevent equipment breakdowns/reduce repair expenses—Being thorough before, during and after-operation checks and scheduled maintenance services, I can reduce the downtime of equipment and the expense of repair.

Increase synergy of a team—As a Team Leader in the military, I brought 12 unique individuals together and inspired them to work cohesively in a high-stress work environment.

Analyze, create and select courses of action—Trained in the military’s decision-making process, when faced with a problem, I created possible courses of action, evaluated each and selected the best one. Once selected, I developed an action plan to implement the chosen course of action.

For anyone who has spent a decent amount of time in the military, we are trained on how to do many of the things that employers are seeking to solve. By carefully going through a job posting, it’s usually easy to see why they are hiring for that position. You can then tailor your resume and cover letter accordingly to show, instead of just tell, from experience how you can benefit them if hired.

Source: news.clearancejobs.com

5 Tips for Mastering Your First Phone Interview

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smiling soldier on the phone sitting a a desk

With no face-to-face meeting, you need to be on your best phone behavior.

The path to professional success often begins with a phone interview. In fact, 82 percent of HR managers and working professionals say that phone skills are key to both landing a job and maintaining a sustainable career, according to research from TracFone. For those looking to secure their first professional job, rejoin the workforce or climb the professional ladder, the importance of phone etiquette cannot be overstated.

To master the phone interview, follow these five tips:

* Speak clearly. Speaking in a clear, confident voice eliminates potential for miscommunication and provides a positive tone to the call. Be sure to sound upbeat and enthusiastic during the interview – you can even smile to help with this and use your voice to convey your excitement about the position.

* Stay connected with the right device. All of the interview preparation in the world won’t save you if your phone fails, so make sure you’re available with a secure line when the call comes through.

* Keep your resume on hand. Often, hiring managers will reference your resume during the phone interview process. Having a copy handy will help you answer those questions with confidence and ease. You can even make a list of “talking points” that provide more detail about your background to reference during the call.

* Ask questions. The interview is meant to be a conversation and two-way process, so it’s important to have a few questions of your own about the company and position for which you’re applying. This will show the interviewer that you don’t just want any job, but a long-term career at that company. It’s also a good opportunity to determine if the job and the company really are the right fit for you.

* Send a follow-up thank you note. The phone interview doesn’t end when you hang up. One of the most important steps to career success is the follow-up. Carefully record who you spoke with and send them a thank you note for taking the time to speak with you. If you have their email address already, use that, or research their contact information on sites like LinkedIn. Reiterate your interest in the position and emphasize why you are a perfect fit. It’s an important, lasting impression that may help you secure the job and, ultimately, career success.

Source: Brandpointcontent.com

Husband and Wife are Retired US Army Colonels Bringing No. 1 Flooring Mobile Showroom to Homes

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Bill Mahoney and Marie Mahoney stand outdoors in front of their decorated work vehicle smiling

Analytics. Logistics. Planning. Strategy. Putting those four ideals into practice would provide a strong cornerstone for the success of almost any business.

Those are the skills that Bill and Marie Mahoney bring with them as they each launch second careers as new franchise owners with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Having launched operations in late September, Floor Coverings International Midlothian serves clients throughout the greater Midlothian, Bon Air, Moseley and Chesterfield County areas.

Bill and Marie – both 56 and residents of Chesterfield – are retired United States Army Colonels with Bill retiring in 2015 after serving 30 years and Marie following in April 2020 after a 34-year career. Each were deployed to Afghanistan for one year. Bill later served as Director of Planning for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “It has been shown repeatedly that veterans make great small-business owners because of the skills and discipline learned in the military,” Bill said. “On top of that, women-owned businesses continue to grow at a rapid pace and Marie is excited to contribute to that growth.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), there is about one veteran-owned company for every 10 veterans and veteran-owned businesses employ 5.8 million individuals. In addition, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 21 percent over the past five years, more than double the increase of nine percent for all businesses, according to the most recent State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. Approximately 42 percent of American businesses are owned by women. “We were looking for a post-military business opportunity, and given our backgrounds, we both felt we couldn’t have been better prepared to own a Floor Coverings International franchise,” Marie said. “Plus, our son, Max (20), is working part-time for us while our daughter, Maura (16), helps behind the scenes with our social media.”

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every part of our lives. However, Floor Coverings International utilizes a number of preventative safety precautions to keep both clients and franchise owners and their employees safe. “We are relatively pandemic-proof,” Bill said. “The desire for home improvements has actually grown tremendously this year as more consumers spend time in their homes and expend resources that might have otherwise been spent on travel and other activities.”

In Floor Coverings International, the Mahoneys found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. “The Floor Coverings International business model is a one-stop shop that offers a higher level of customer service than many competitors,” Marie said. “Our Mobile Flooring Showroom provides our clients access to virtually unlimited flooring options.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Norcross, GA-based Floor Coverings International has been ranked consistently as the No. 1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America by Entrepreneur Magazine. The 142 franchisees and their Design Associates offer a unique in-home experience with a mobile showroom that comes directly to the client’s door. More than 3,000 flooring choices are available to view in the home with and alongside existing lighting, paint, and furniture. The company will open several more locations throughout the U.S. and Canada through franchise expansion in 2021. For franchise information, please visit www.opportunities.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location go to www.floorcoveringsinternational.com.

 

 

Never Settle – How I Took a Leap into the Tech Industry

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Paul Yoon pictured in Army uniform holding a rifle standing in rough terrain

By Paul Yoon

I was in the military for four years. I served in the US Army as a wheeled-vehicle mechanic for the first two, then transitioned to an artillery surveyor.

I gained experience as a radio technician, and also managed and secured transportation for equipment and personnel.

After the military, I became a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for about five years. I had to help my parents with a lot of bills. I had to find work, and law enforcement was hiring quite heavily at the time.

I’ve always had some interest in coding. When I was an adolescent, a couple of my friends and I explored basic HTML and CSS, as well as how to build web and mobile applications. But I grew distant. A lot of my friends became software engineers, and they encouraged me to look into it once my family was more settled.

I had a stable career. I’d just bought a house. I was comfortable. But I had this mental struggle: If I stay here, accept and try to be happy with what I have, I’m settling. Do I want to live with regret, or would I rather take some time, make a few sacrifices and try it out?

Going back to school wasn’t a feasible option for me as I was helping my parents with bills. I needed something quicker and coding bootcamps were popular at the time, so I started researching. I noticed that a lot of them only covered one stack. Coding Dojo split it up into three different stacks, and that was more what I was looking for. I wanted to get my feet wet, understand certain stacks and experiment with them. At the Coding Dojo orientation, the main presenter was very open and welcoming. He was also a veteran – there’s a lot of vets in bootcamps.

Bootcamps are meant to be hard. It’s four years of coursework condensed into about four months. But I realized if I’m going to make this huge jump, I had to reserve a lot of time.

Looking at the material that we covered during the first few days, I knew that if I went home each night and just read a few things, it wasn’t going to be enough. Sometimes the material is hard to understand. I was “that guy” who asked a lot of questions, and I think that’s what helped the most. A couple of my course mates were too prideful. They wouldn’t ask the instructors, or they’d just be stuck on the same thing all day.

MERN was my favorite stack, but Python was close behind. For fun projects and applications, I would use MERN, but for deeper studies, analysis or data, I would use Python. I would’ve preferred to stay away from Java, but it’s a foundational language that is useful to know. Coincidentally enough, the work I’m in uses Java.

After graduation came the job hunt, and COVID-19 had a severe impact. I was competing for entry level jobs against people who were getting laid off as software engineers with years of experience and who were willing to take lower-paying jobs. I told myself I’d rather seek an opportunity to learn and grow than merely look for the highest-paying job. I considered a lot of paid internships, mentorships and entry-level positions. It was a lot of rejection as many apprenticeships and internships got delayed or canceled due to COVID-19.

Then, a company called Twilio finally responded about their Hatch apprenticeship. The process took two and a half months, but it ultimately worked out. I’m now officially a Software Engineering apprentice and learn something new every day.

You have to go in with the mentality that you’re going to be challenged. You have to sacrifice and compromise. Just give it everything you got. The only way to learn and understand the material is to put in the hours. Your family and loved ones will support you.

Having been in the military, making sacrifices was easy for me. I’d usually be the first one in and the last one out. I had a competitive mindset. I knew if my goals and missions were set, I couldn’t leave until I finished. It was comfortable for me to approach people from different backgrounds, being collaborative and working with peers.

The tech industry is huge. There are so many roles that start with coding and development as entry points. If you can find transferable skills similar to web development or software engineering, by all means you should consider making the change. It’s healthy. If you’re in a position where you’re not comfortable and feel like you can do more, it’s never too late. Don’t doubt that.

Why You Should Join an Online Veteran Network

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Serviceman searching online networking on laptop at home, adapting to civilian

by Paige Brown and Veteran David Tenenbaum, director of Heroes Linked

Networking, while not a new concept, has become a significant component of modern life.

Commonly associated with career advancement, the evolution of online social platforms has extended networking far beyond just opportunities to further one’s career.

While networking can be important and beneficial to anyone, it may be even more so for military members, veterans and their spouses.

Former service members are aware of the difficulties that can come from adjusting to life outside of the military. Whether it’s acclimating to a new job title and company or understanding the inner workings of today’s corporate culture, veterans often face obstacles not well-understood by those without similar experiences.

Given this reality, it makes sense for any veteran to start forming connections and building relationships with those who understand their unique point of view.

Here are several ways joining a veteran network can help a service member, veteran or their spouses.

  1. It’s where your battle buddies hang out.

Every service member knows there will be a transition to civilian life, but it impacts everyone differently. Your experiences while in the military, how long you served, where you served, your circumstance upon returning to civilian life – these all come together to form a unique set of circumstances.

For some veterans, leaving the military means leaving a way of life and community behind. Their housing or homes may have been on base or provided by the military. Their food, alcohol, home furnishings, jewelry, or even their car shopping might have been on base, as well as their place of work, socializing and recreational events. The support network is built into each military installation.

There’s also a substantial difference in which attitudes and behaviors are appreciated and sought after in the military versus in the civilian community. The more conversations a member can have with those who have been through or are going through a similar situation, the more they can learn what behaviors from the military should be kept and what should be shed, what’s to be amplified and what’s to be silenced.

Humans are social, relational creatures, meaning the friendships and personal connections we create and foster matter. The difficulty transitioning to civilian life is an all-too-common story. But through the empathy and shared experiences of other veterans in your network, this challenging transition can be made smoother.

  1. You’ll get a better understanding of the civilian work culture.

There aren’t any first shirts, no XOs, no squad leaders, no platoon guides, or section chiefs outside the military. The daily language is practically a foreign language in corporate America and one that’s not easily understood. No one’s reporting at o’dark thirty for required PT, let alone in cadence while double timing. Instead, there’s an entire new lexicon and lingo in the civilian workplace, and mastering it soonest means connecting with new colleagues, with your new tribe, in valuable ways. Trying to make the switch from the military to a role in a company can be one of the greatest and most critical challenges a veteran will face. With a network of fellow vets who have been through comparable situations, it’s likely someone has directly applicable words of wisdom or experiences to offer.

  1. You’ll find a place to build your community and network.

Many service members spend years training and mastering their skills, and even longer using them throughout the world. Their next job and career might not take advantage of those skills. The earlier a member can connect with their future community and learn the culture, terminology and ways of dress and business practice, the better. Within a wide network, there will be plenty of firsthand advice specific to your new role. Beyond the commonalities of military service and transition, a refined network of individuals in the same position and industry offers a valuable resource that you likely won’t find on the job.

  1. They have access to resources and information.

Where a military member is from, where they served, and where they’re going after the military may all be different places. Building an online network means developing real relationships and local knowledge for your next chapter of life—wherever it may take you. Having a vast network of peers available to connect with makes it easier to gain firsthand knowledge about a community that might be a potential next home. It can also provide you with actual connections in that very community, offering an invaluable support system upon arrival.

  1. You get the opportunity to make an impact.

Joining a veteran’s network isn’t only about gaining advice and knowledge. It’s also about giving it. You never know how your experiences might be helpful to someone else. As an advisor or mentor, or potentially even as just an acquaintance or connection, you could be an excellent guide for how someone can best succeed within a new company, school district, soccer league, church, or even a homeowner’s association.

The bonds you make during military service are unique. The unity, camaraderie and shared experience can extend beyond your service and play a role in helping yourself and fellow veterans make the most of life outside of military duty. It just takes a little networking.

Source: VA.gov

3 Career Fields That Require Experience That Veterans Already Have

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By Jay Hicks

If you are mid transition, you probably have been told to hone your resume for the job you want. If you’re concerned about relating your military skills to the rest of world, don’t worry.

Here are three great career fields for your career after the military.

LOGISTICS

It’s not just for the loggies anymore! The outlook through 2025 indicates 21% growth for the logistics industry, far better than the national outlook average of 11%.

How many inventories have you been involved with? Have you worked in the NBC or arms room? You know how to order supplies, stock and issue repair parts, clothing and gear utilizing the supply system. You have been responsible for proper transaction follow up and receipt procedures, how to enhance warehouse layout and storage, and the proper operation of the Government Purchase Card Program. You have driven countless miles, performed duties associated with hazardous material control and management, and maintained inventory databases for material stocked in warehouses and storerooms.

You have received expert training from the military for the career field of logistics. Your leadership, planning skills, and adaptability enable you to successfully transition into this great career field as a logistics manager. So how do you get started?

First, your skill set needs to be translated and repackaged so that hiring managers can quickly understand who you are. Second, you may need to get a certification, but not necessarily a four-year degree. However, a minimum of a High School (HS) Diploma or Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM), Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM), Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM), Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP), and Mail Systems Management Association all provide logistics certifications for veterans interested in getting ahead in the commercial supply career field.

If you decide to take a deeper dive into commercial logistics, read “The Transitioning Military Logistician” which is part of the “Transitioning Military Series”, available on Amazon and at AAFES.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

You may be unaware, but you already are a Project Manager! If you enjoy planning, scheduling, and executing operations, your future career path could be project management. Your leadership and planning skills and your adaptability, ingrained during military service, will enable you to successfully transition into project management. Action officer, training officer, operations planner, commander, platoon sergeant, are all military terms that equate to project manager in the commercial world. Best of all, project management spans all industries.

Project Management pays well, provides for a definitive career ladder, and has a very positive future. Nearly 12 million project management related jobs will be added globally by 2022. Further, the average salary in the US for Project Managers with 5 years’ experience is nearly $100,000. You can expect a 16% bump with the coveted Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification.

The Project Management Institute (PMI)® is the certifying body for the PMP. It is a great organization to belong to during your transition and certification process. You can enhance your network with project managers in commercial industry while attending meetings and learning about the career field. Further, many local chapters have a PMI Military Liaison that can assist you with your certification process and link you to mentors.

You do not need a degree to be a project manager, but you may need experience and certification. If you lack experience, get certified as a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®. The PMP®, recognizes demonstrated experience, skill and performance in leading and directing projects. An excellent resource for learning more about this exciting career field is “The Transitioning Military Project Manager”, part of the “The Transitioning Military Series”.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)

The outlook for the IT career field is incredibly positive. The IT industry continues to enjoy unfettered growth, as the IT career field will grow 13% over the next 4 years. Glassdoor states the national average for IT salaries is currently over $69,080 per year. Computers and information systems managers should expect a 15% growth through 2022, with a median salary over $120,000 per year.

Your IT skills from the military are transportable and desirable! There is an increasing demand for skilled IT professionals, enabling you to launch into the lucrative career. You may start out as a technician, but as you develop, you could end up as the CIO, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), or Chief Operations Officer (COO). Another lucrative path is cybersecurity, which is needed for all functions and jobs within IT. Either direction, you will be heavily rewarded for years to come.

An additional way to gain a more in-depth understanding of the IT career field, is by reading “The Transitioning Military Information Technology Professional” or “The Transitioning Military Cybersecurity Professional”, which are both components of the “Transitioning Military Series,” both available at AAFES and on Amazon.

Source: news.clearancejobs.com

Retaining & Reporting Veteran Employees

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Veterans are extremely loyal to an organization. What is good for your veteran population is also good for any employee.

However, if the environment does not meet veterans’ needs, they tend to leave an organization quicker than their non-veteran counterparts.

Reporting and identifying veterans
Most organizations are now voluntarily counting veterans but some have encountered difficulties with self-reporting. Instead of asking employees, “Are you a veteran?” ask, “Have you ever served in the U.S. military?” Some veterans do not identify as such because they served in peacetime, or for other reasons.

Some federal contractors have specific reporting requirements (on form VETS-4212) and affirmative action obligations under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Act of 1974 (known as “VEVRAA” or “Section 4212”).

Find answers to frequently asked questions at dol.gov/agencies/vets/ programs/vets4212.

Important to retaining veteran employees:
✪ Challenging/engaging opportunity
✪ Clearly stated expectations of the position
✪ Known pathway for advancement in the current position and organization
✪ A mentor (preferably a veteran) on arrival, as well as an onboarding program specific to veterans, can help them integrate and adjust to the organization’s culture
✪ Clear and open verbal and written communication. Veterans are used to hearing from their leadership, usually in person
✪ Career professional development
✪ Impact on the organization – veterans want to know what they aredoing has “meaning”
✪ Compensation and benefits

Source: dol.gov

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