by Mike Ferguson
(St. Charles, MO) – Some say the nation’s economy is in recovery. Others aren’t that confident. Either way, many Missourians continue to struggle financially.
Some are unemployed and some are the working poor – working part time or employed in jobs that are below their education and skill set because that’s all the work they can find right now.
The challenges that keep someone from the job they want and need are different for each job seeker. Sometimes, it’s not a matter of skills but a matter of knowing how to market those skills. That’s often the case for veterans.
Jon Sondag is the President of AT&T Missouri* and says his company is among those looking specifically for those leaving the service. “They’re highly skilled. Today’s Army, Navy, Marines, you name it, are very technical oriented. So alot of these veterans when they come back, they already are trained on the technologies that companies like AT&T and others need.”
Sondag, on “Missouri Viewpoints”, says the technical skills aren’t the only aspects of most veterans that appeal to private sector employers. “They have leadership skills. They know the importance of working in teamwork and they’re driven to be successful.”
AT&T is among about a dozen corporations pooling recruiting resources designed to put veterans to work. It’s called the Veterans Talent Exchange and, nationally, the goal is to hire 100,000 veterans by 2020.
Making that connection between veteran and private-sector employer can be hard to so, though. That’s not because of a lack of training or experience but because, sometimes, neither understands how skills developed for battle fit into the business environment.
According to Sondag, “The jargon, the terminology that military personnel and veterans are so used to using…as they are serving the country, it doesn’t really equate to modern business.”
In other words, the skills are often there but veterans who are applying for work sometimes don’t know what they can provide the employer. As a result, the veteran may not know how to market himself or herself to the hiring manager on the resume or in the interview.
Sondag calls that a communication challenge for his recruiters. The company has developed a “Military Skills Translator” that helps both the veteran and corporate personnel better understand how to look for the right hiring fit.
That right fit, of course, is needed for Missourians of all backgrounds and that includes those who do not have a military background.
There are public sector efforts to help everyone. It’s part of the Missouri Career Centers’ mission. There are Career Centers throughout the state.
Karen Grimm manages the one in St. Peters. She says the services, which are free to use, help those who are unemployed and are also available to those who are working but simply want a better job. It’s open to basically anyone. “Anyone who is documented and legal to work in Missouri or in the United States can use our Career Center to help find employment. There is no eligibility criteria for the general help with a job search.”
Those services are available in person and online. They include resume writing help and job search resources. Grimm says many job seekers don’t realize they need help when looking for work, especially if they haven’t done that in a while.
“If you haven’t been job searching in the last five years, the game has changed. People think they know how to job search because they did it ten years ago and it’s different now.”
The way employers look at resumes, the way they list jobs and the way workers apply for those jobs are among the aspects of hiring that have changed. It’s no longer about looking for enough skilled workers; for employers, it’s about finding the right fit when it comes to skill set and personality because a bad match for a job is expensive when a new hire doesn’t work out.
Like with veterans, Grimm says many workers struggle with communicating what they have to offer an employer. Developing that basic ability can be the missing foundation for a successful job search.
“Some people come in and they really don’t know their skills. They don’t have an awareness of themselves. They’re just stunned by what’s happened to them. We can help them assess their skills, determine their likes and dislikes…and help them get a focus.”
For many, knowing how to target search and customize your presentation is what gets you past the initial screening process and into a conversation with a recruiter or hiring manager. The days of finding work by just blasting out resumes through email are likely over. Many employers now invest in narrowly targeted recruiting efforts which changes the way successful applicants approach their job search.
If you are looking for work, whether you’ve worn a military uniform or not, that means you need the right job search skills in order to get to use your workplace skills.
On the web:
AT&T veterans hiring initiative/ Veteran Talent Exchange info:
Missouri Career Centers:
* Disclosure: AT&T Missouri is a sponsor of “Missouri Viewpoints”