December 28, 2013

Helping Ohio’s unemployed veterans

According to the latest census data, there are about 900,000 veterans in Ohio. Each year, about 12,000 new veterans leave active military service and come home to the Buckeye state. With a real unemployment rate of over 12%, there are now over 60,000 unemployed veterans in Ohio – and nearly 1.5 million unemployed veterans across the country. Despite efforts by government and business to develop and promote “jobs for vets” initiatives, finding work continues to be a struggle for many veterans. According to data from News 21, fewer than 10% of veterans attending the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes job fairs found work through the 500+ fairs that have been held since 2011. Veteran-friendly job search sites are even worse, with job offers for registered vets in the range of 1-2%. If these methods don’t work, why offer them? Because government and business leaders want to be seen doing something – and it’s easy, and more visible, to spend money on glitzy websites and heavily promoted events. So what works? Any soldier will tell you that technology alone will not win any war. Sooner or later, you have to have boots on the ground. That is true in the career field as well. The fanciest, most heavily promoted website in the world will not help a vet get a job if his resume sucks. Garbage In, Garbage Out. That’s what makes Military Veterans Resource Center (MVRC) so different. From the beginning, MVRC coaches have been in the trenches […]
January 24, 2014

Nine Reasons Why a Company May Not Hire a Vet

This is an edited article from Business Insider that discusses how veterans shoot themselves in the foot when applying for jobs in the civilian sector. You could replace “veteran” with “recent college graduate” and much of this would still apply. —– Those of us in the hiring and recruiting business know that sometimes it’s a great business decision to hire a military professional. Often, though, many don’t. Why? Because they’re just not the right fit. The irony is that many veterans and service members have the skills and experience to make the cut, but blow it. As a military candidate recruiter, I see consistent themes in why military professionals don’t get the job. Here are nine reasons why you may not get hired: 1.    You Can’t (or Won’t) Accept That You’re Starting Over Let’s suppose that after graduating from college, I went to work for a well-known defense contractors. During the course of my 20+ year career at that company, I have been successful and was promoted to the position of Program Manager, frequently working with the military. However, there isn’t any opportunity for further advancement so I decide it’s time to leave the company. I’ve worked with the military, so I decide I want to join its ranks. Because of my previous experience with managing multi-million dollar budgets and hundreds of personnel, I feel I’m the equivalent of a Commanding Officer or Senior Enlisted Leader. When I talk to a recruiter about my level of entry, what would […]
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 […]
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 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 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 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 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 […]
April 4, 2014

I can’t get no satisfaction at work– or can you?

After serving 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, Mark Wolfenden retired from the military to begin his civilian career. He decided to explore an opportunity in the Human Resources field and has spent the past two years working in the HR division of a manufacturing company. Now he questions why he entered this career field in the first place. The problem? Wolfenden lacks what career counselors call “job satisfaction.” When you feel satisfied with your job, you have a positive attitude towards your work. However, six months into his new job, Wolfenden was not feeling satisfied. He was drawn to the HR field because he enjoys working with people, but he found his methods for assisting others were tied to many formalities and legalities. “I found myself working more on programs and problems than people,” says Wolfenden. Wolfenden is not the only one with a job satisfaction dilemma. A poll conducted by Gallup last year[1] showed that in 2013, only 30% of workers felt “engaged and inspired” by their jobs. Everyone else either felt no excitement for their job or felt “actively disengaged” at work. So what does the majority of the workforce population have to be unsatisfied about? In Wolfenden’s case, the new HR position did not meet his job expectations or match his interests. Yet, the list continues. Work-related factors also affect job satisfaction. Three researchers from the Netherlands surveyed a group of workers and concluded in their article, “Which factors determine job satisfaction?”[2], that task variety, […]
April 7, 2014

18-PiNK EXTREME wins bid to USAV National Championships

When she’s not coaching veterans on their job-hunting skills, Military Veterans Resource Center career specialist Kelley Koons spends her time coaching the AiR CiTY CHiCKS 18-Pink Extreme volleyball team. On March 23, the Dayton-area team scored a major victory by placing first in the Nike Mideast Qualifier. Now, they have a bid to the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships in Minneapolis this June. “I had hopes we would place in the top three, but we didn’t expect to take first,” says Koons. At the Qualifier, 64 teams competed in the 18 year-old division–the most competitive age bracket–for one of three bids to USAV Nationals. Koons’s team beat every opponent in two sets. They never had to play a third set to break a tie. Their win marks the first invitation an AiR CiTY CHiCKS team has ever won to the USAV National Championships–the most elite tournament for club volleyball.”It’s a big deal for our club and for the girls,” says Koons, as hundreds of college coaches will attend to observe the players. After their win, Koons rewarded the team with a fun practice, but she already has Nationals on her mind. “The USAV Nationals’ entry fee is $900, on top of the expenses we’ll pay for traveling to Minneapolis,” explains Koons. To help the club and her players with the costs, Koons plans to organize a youth volleyball clinic for kids in grades one through six. The clinic will be a four-night series taught by her players, who will […]
April 11, 2014

What the heck is LinkedIn and why should I care?–Part 1

This is for all the people who don’t have a LinkedIn account and couldn’t care less about getting one. I used to think like you too. I’ve never cared much about staying up-to-date with popular hi-tech trends (still don’t have a smartphone). But I do have a Facebook profile to help keep tabs on my friends and family. So why bother adding something else to check, update, “like,” and ultimately eat up more time in my already very busy day? Well, about a month ago I finally cracked and signed up. And it turns out I was wrong about everything. Here’s why: 1) LinkedIn is user-friendly. You don’t have to be tech-savvy to use it. 2) Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is not for play. It’s a tool that has many uses for current and aspiring professionals. 3) People who are busier and more important than me use it all the time. I’m not sharing my discoveries to promote LinkedIn and bring more traffic to the website. Trust me, LinkedIn doesn’t need any help from me. Rather, LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool that can help you–whether you’re a job-seeker, an entry-level worker, or a CEO–build your professional presence and learn about new opportunities. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, it’s time to learn from my mistakes and develop one. I’ll be spending this blog article and my next one explaining first, why you should get a LinkedIn profile, and then, second, how to use one to your best advantage. First […]
April 16, 2014

What the heck is LinkedIn and why should I care?–Part 2

Alright, I’ll make a profile–but how? Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to join LinkedIn, it’s time to get started on your account. First things first. Go to and complete the registration process. Luckily, it’s simple. You’ll just need to input basic information like your name and email. (Click on each image for a close-up view.) Then, follow these steps to get the most out of your profile. 1) Add a photo Upload a professional picture of yourself to your profile. This is a must. LinkedIn Career Expert Nicole Williams was quoted in an article by Forbes contributor Libby Kane saying your profile is seven times more likely to be viewed if you have a photo. Need I say more. 2) Get creative with your title Your title appears directly beneath your name on your profile page. You can click on the blue pen next to the title space to edit it. Many people (myself included) simply name their current position, but you can get more creative with your title if you like. For example, if you are currently unemployed and you’re looking for a job as a social worker you could write “Passionate, experienced counselor seeking social work opportunity.” 3) Write a good summary The purpose of the summary is to sell yourself. You should use this section of your profile to convey your skills, qualifications, interests and beliefs to your network and your profile viewers. If you don’t have a summary, it will appear to the viewer […]