November 11 is Veterans Day in the United States. In 2014, more than 11 percent of U.S. veterans were black.
One of the biggest challenges faced by veterans in finding employment is that things will not work out.
According to Michael Black, chief operating Officer at JMA Solutions and a retired Air Force colonel with 26 years of experience, resilience was important when he was trying to figure out what was going to be next.
“Always have a plan and have a team,” advised Florent Groberg, former director of Veterans Outreach and Eastern Region Community Engagement at Boeing, a retired Army captain, and Medal of Honor recipient.
“Sometimes it will be difficult,” he continued. “But if you keep doing what you’re supposed to do, like in the military, and you have that right team, you will succeed.”
There’s Clarity. This is achieved by learning and being adaptable. As you go through finding employment, you will discover things about yourself.
Chad Pollack, chief of staff of global operational risks and oversight at American Express, a former naval submarine Officer, says you “learn more about yourself, and what you want to do or don’t want to do.”
The third key is having a good support system: Mentors, colleagues, or professional acquaintances. The key is to meet and talk to people who can offer you advice, make relevant introductions, and encourage you through the process.
Powell, understanding that many people are reluctant to network, explains, “It’s just talking to people…everyone is a person, we can all relate, we all have the similar fears, concerns, and insecurities.”
Groberg believes that leaders in the military have a duty to develop their teams and prepare them for transitioning out of the military.
He discussed Boeing’s three-prong system for helping veterans: a workforce transition and development program for all veterans, community outreach to help veterans who are having a difficult time with the transition, and employees volunteering with veteran organizations.
However, Groberg also feels it is the responsibility of military personnel to request professional development and seek help regarding transitioning.
At American Express, Powell is dedicated to improving their hiring process for veterans. Although it is a financial company, the development of applications and web-based tools has led to a demand for STEM professionals at American Express. For his part, Black is an advocate for hiring veterans and regularly speaks to organizations about the benefits of hiring them.
“It’s about relationships,” says Black about job hunting.
These relationships are the only difference between you and other qualified candidates competing for the same job; they “will be the tie-breaker or get your foot in the door,” concluded Black, who has received job offers based on the recommendations of mentors and colleagues who knew he was looking for employment– Denise Stephens, firstname.lastname@example.org