This webpage has tips to assist veterans to start and grow their civilian job network.
Tip #1: Transfer military intelligence to civilian job hunt.
Gather Local Intelligence
A candidate told me that he was ready to throw his computer away. He had no responses to any jobs to which he had applied on line. He said he was forty-five years old and never had to look for a job before in his life. I asked him how he had gotten all his previous jobs in construction. “I knew someone,” he replied. Then he added, “I have contacted everyone I know and they do not have any jobs or referrals.”
Next I asked if he had been in the military to which he replied he was a marine.
My next question was how does the military gather intelligence? We discussed that the best method is using foot soldiers on the ground gathering information from local people by befriending them. These foot soldiers interface one-on-one with locals. The most current and relevant information is uncovered in order to have successful missions. The locals give foot soldiers additional referrals to build effective networks. The best return on investment for the military is gathering intelligence via ground troops.
This military comparison tells the candidate to do the same in his job hunt! Start talking with industry professionals. Gather the most current industry information that is not in print but in the minds of these professionals. This is the civilian process of learning private firsthand information as indicated in Network for a Job.
Always ask for additional referrals from the professionals with whom you speak. The only way to get the best and most recent information is actually speaking to real live humans. It is time to step out of the comfort zone and make totally new connections. Once new “human” connections are made, job candidates need to analyze the information they have gather and create a job specific network.
As far as this job candidate throwing away his computer, he needs to do just the opposite. Use the computer to discover “Locals” with whom to have mission critical conversations. In civilian terms it is gathering private first-hand information.
Who are job candidates’ “Locals”? Industry professionals that have a large established network are those with the greatest exposure. Job candidates need to make a list of services or products used in their work environment. Uncover who sells these products and services for referrals to companies and contacts. Membership chairs working for professional industry organizations and associations have a wide network of contacts. Event promoters have current and relevant industry information. Alumni directories have other professionals to contact.
Where can job candidates find “Locals”? Take a product or service and log onto its website. Search for the company headquarter and call to speak to sales. These can also be found through the online yellow pages. Job candidates can perform creative online searches for new industry contacts using key word searches.
How can job candidates do to differentiate themselves to “Locals”? Current conventional wisdom instructs job candidates make introductions via emails, tweets, etc. These can be easily ignored, stopped by a firewall or deleted by the recipient. Digital communications will not enable job candidates to create a relationship in order to gather current information for good intelligence. Calling industry professionals who have a large sphere of influence and an established network creates a human connection. Conversations are facilitated with key probing questions uncover jobs not advertised. Digital and electronics communications are great after relationships have been established.
What should job candidates ask “Locals”? Job candidates can ask about their industry expertise, their company’s current industry engagement, and other active industry companies. Ask for industry referrals. Three endings to a conversation are: thanks for his time, thanks for referrals, and permission to use his name when calling the referrals.
Candidates have the ability to gather job intelligence through personal connections. 85% of jobs are never advertised and exist only in the minds of potential hiring managers. 90% of hiring managers hire through some form of their own connections. Successful job candidates gather an intelligent network to discover jobs proving the best return on time invested.
Tip #2: Discover DOD Contractors
Veterans like most job candidates spend the majority of their job hunt in online searches. For many their focus is job with major defense contractors. Often similar jobs appear for several contracting firms simultaneously. These firms can be in the bidding process listing jobs and conducting preliminary candidate screens in case they are awarded the contract.
To discover other contractors not advertising, concern networking with the contracting offices of military installations. Research contracting offices and discover personnel directories on the web sites. Network with some of the personnel and discover contracting companies not advertising jobs, referrals to contracting companies and private first-hand information as demonstrated in Network for a Job.
Tip #3: Common Connectors with Veteran Owned Businesses
Research veteran own businesses and connect with these business owner using “common connectors” introductions as described in Network for a Job. At the local level, make an appointment with a reference librarian at the local public library. The reference of business librarian can assist to compile a list of local veteran own businesses. Check out www.veteranownedbusiness.com where directories by state and counties are listed.
Tip #4: Community Military Affairs Organizations
Living in a military community presents the opportunity to research the local Military Affairs Councils or organizations. Often these organizations are affiliated with local Chambers of Commerce, city or county governments. Grow you network and interface with professionals in these organizations. See Chapter 4 in Network for a Job.
Tip #5: Product and Services
Compile a list of all products and services used in your military career. Convert them into the comparable civilian products and services. Study Chapter 1 in Network for a Job and the activity #4 of the Career Centers webpage to engage in conversions with sales professionals.
Tip #6: Overcome Lack of a Degree.
Veterans lacking a university or associate’s degree might think they are not able to compete in the civilian job market. Human resources personnel are instructed to give degreed candidates preference when sorting online applications. Therefore non-degreed veterans and other non-degreed applicants are eliminated.
Military technical training and courses can overcome the lack of a degree. As a recruiter I have educated employers about these terrific military programs. The military training courses plus practical hands-on experience create talented problem solvers for employers to hire. I have to add that my veteran placements have been with small business employers.
My advice is to stop competing for the advertised jobs and start networking. Discover employers that value you for your military skills and experience. Educate your audience about the military programs you have attended.