March 27, 2014

Why won’t companies hire veterans?

The veteran unemployment rate is staggering. Research shows the unemployment rate for veterans of the Second Gulf War is 16 percent. For veterans under 25, it’s a shocking 20 percent. These statistics don’t just include veterans currently looking for work. They include those who tried to find work after leaving the service but couldn’t, either because of problems or because they didn’t know what resources were available. They have either left the job market or work day labor jobs. The government calls this group the “discouraged workforce.” The unemployment rate also includes members of the National Guard of Reserves. Even though they are technically “working”, they are unable to work the civilian jobs they need to because they face constant deployment. What other barriers keep veterans from transitioning smoothly from military service to civilian jobs? Perhaps the most common one is the fact that veterans don’t often know how to translate their military experience into civilian job qualifications. Military lingo or abbreviations don’t make much sense to civilian employers, so they don’t always realize that skills on a veteran’s resume are the skills the employer is looking for! The employer sees the acronyms and assumes the veteran isn’t ready to adapt to civilian life. Sometimes employers fear that all veterans have “emotional baggage” post-service. Adjusting to live after military service is hard for anyone. For some, the struggle is greater as they battle things like Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), PTSD, drug use and suicidal thoughts. It is estimated that between […]
March 14, 2014

MVRC staff visits Veterans First Foundation

For many veterans and their families, money can be tight. Managing daily living costs can mean buying groceries instead of sturdy shoes or new clothing. Veterans First Foundation, a volunteer-run free clothing store for vets, can help. Last week, MVRC staff members visited the Columbus location to observe the organization’s good work in action. In addition to men’s and women’s clothing for all occasions, vets can take home shoes, household items and even medical equipment if they need it. They are given a list of what kinds of items they can take when they arrive. “I feel like they’ve got a gold mine here,” says volunteer Johnny Poynter, referring to the medical equipment. Oftentimes, vets have to wait for medical devices when they go to the VA or a private service provider for help. While they wait, Veterans First Foundation can loan vets the equipment they need free of charge. The store has electric scooters, wheelchairs, medical beds, walkers and crutches in stock. Vets can keep everything except the electric scooters, which Poynter says the store usually loans out for three to six months. The store helps vets on a daily basis, but it’s a growing organization that also needs help. The cost of maintaining the facility and the medical equipment is expensive. According to Poynter, the volunteers have paid for some costs out of their own pockets. However, he has just applied for a grant from the Veterans Support Foundation and he is working on more. “I’m committed to […]
March 14, 2014

Why we do what we do

Veteran Steven Clark* was out of work, homeless and separated from his family when he came to Military Veterans Resource Center for help. “I was in a really dark place because of this and my time out [of the military],” he said.  However, on his first visit to MVRC Clark was paired with MVRC career specialist Bob Driftmyer, who provided him with food from our food bank, helped him find job leads, and met Clark for coffee to discuss his career interests. Recently, Clark wrote a letter to MVRC expressing his gratitude for Driftmyer, who proved a guide and a friend to Clark when he felt he had nowhere else to turn. The story he shared reminded us why we do what we do. In 2012, Clark transitioned from the U.S. Army and began working for a cable company in Findlay, Oh. He enjoyed the work, but after six months of employment, his boss asked him to go on a job out of state, even though he told the hiring manager his girlfriend was expecting and he could not travel. When reminding his boss of the agreement, Clark was given two choices: he could either travel as planned or quit. Clark chose the latter and was thrust back into the job search, but after a month and a half and six interviews, he still had no promising leads. Repeatedly, employers told him he was “overqualified” and his military skills didn’t translate well to the job he applied for. In the […]
March 11, 2014

The things that can make or break your interview

So you just submitted your resume and cover letter for your dream job, and the hiring manager has already called you back–you’ve got an interview! You feel confident in your ability to communicate in a professional setting, and you know you are a perfect fit for the job. At the rate you’re going, you’ll be sitting in your own office and chatting up your new co-workers by this time next week. Right? Not so fast. Even if you are one of the hiring manager’s top picks and you’re a natural talker, you shouldn’t take the interview lightly. It takes a lot of work to impress a hiring manager, and it’s easy to make a critical mistake at the interview stage. Recently, MVRC job coaches received training from Interview Skills 101, and it turns out there are a lot of things candidates can do to tip the scale in their favor–or ruin their chances of getting hired. The following is a list of interview Dos and Don’ts inspired by Interview Skills 101. Pay attention! How you handle the interview determines whether or not you get that dream job. 1. Do anticipate an employer’s need before that need goes public. According to Interview Skills 101, about half of the job openings are not made public. Instead, they are filled by candidates already known to the employers. As a job seeker, it’s in your best interest do some networking and become familiar with potential employers. Volunteer, join organizations, attend events and talk with people […]
March 10, 2014

Interview Skills 101 teaches MVRC staff how to play the ‘interview game’

“Your resume is the ticket to the game. The interview is the game. Play the game.” On February 18, the Military Veterans Resource Center began its monthly 2-day training seminar. Career Specialists from every branch gathered at the Columbus headquarters to talk goals, the future, and to learn interviewing techniques from the experts to better be prepared to coach veterans. During the seminar, Interview Skills 101 founders Cheri Wyatt and Brian Niswander walked the MVRC employees through four blocks of successful interviewing, covering everything from handshakes to closing strong. Successful interviews begin with a good understanding of the ground rules. Interviews can be a lot like a sports game; before practice starts, you need to understand the rules. Before you walk into an interview, learn about how the scoring works, the field of play, who your judges are, what equipment you have and how to use it, and — of course — how to win. After you understand what to expect, it’s time to work on your “ticket to the game”: your resume. Most resumes only get a whopping 6-second glance, so it’s important that yours immediately stands out from the pack. Techniques like color-coding, formatting and key words can get you a second look. Most importantly, potential employers need to know “what’s in it for them” should they choose to hire you. The saying “practice makes perfect” rings true even for interviews. It’s important never to walk into an interview without first thinking through at least 80% of the […]
March 4, 2014

New beginning for Ohio vet, MVRC services take many forms

“It was New Years Eve,” said Mr. Jones. “New place, new start.” Jones, a Marine Corps veteran who calls Columbus his home, can now claim the same of a new apartment. With the VA’s assistance, Jones and his wife acquired their place and moved in on December 31, 2013. They spent the seven previous months living in a hotel and the three years prior as homeless citizens. I spoke with Jones on a cold Friday in February when I joined him and his MVRC career specialist, Tanisha Calhoun, at the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio. Now that he had the place, he would get to turn it into a home by furnishing it with up to 15 donated items from the Furniture Bank. Tanisha and I went along to help him choose his items. While our group waited its turn to enter the Furniture Bank warehouse, Jones asked me about myself and my role at the MVRC. I explained that I was the new Public Relations Specialist who was still learning about the organization. “I’m going write stories about veterans and their experiences,” I said. He nodded and said there were a lot of veterans facing tough times. As a man living with cancer and a father who buried his oldest daughter less than two years ago, he could speak from experience. Yet, he was positive and grateful for his apartment and for Tanisha, who arranged the Furniture Bank appointment. “She was a blessing, she was right there. A lot […]