Mil Vet Employees at Starbucks Respond to Call for Boycott

starbucks hiring

By Debbie Gregory.

President Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries prompted Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to announce that the company would hire 10,000 refugees in the 75 countries where it does business, with the effort starting in the United States.

The announcement prompted a backlash on social media with several people using the hashtag BoycottStarbucks to urge customers to stay away from its stores. Some users also posted screenshots of them deleting the company’s app on their phones.

But veterans who work at Starbucks have something to say to those insisting the coffee company should hire veterans instead of refugees: “Check your facts, Starbucks is already there.”

Members of the Starbucks Armed Forces Network wrote, “We respect honest debate and the freedom of expression. Many of us served to protect that very right. Some of our brothers and sisters died protecting it,” in its message. “But to those who would suggest Starbucks is not committed to hiring veterans, we are here to say: check your facts, Starbucks is already there.”

Starbucks Armed Forces Network was founded in 2007 to bring partners who served in the military together to bond over their shared experiences, to provide guidance for newly hired partners transitioning from military to civilian life and to create a veteran-friendly workforce.

In 2013, Starbucks made a pledge to hire 10,000 veterans and veteran spouses by 2018. The company has hired 8,800 U.S. veterans and military spouses already as part of its pledge, and said it would reach its veteran hiring target earlier than expected and would continue hiring more.

CEO Schultz and his wife, Sheri, have visited military bases, used their personal wealth to help with plans for service members coming back from active duty, established military family stores at more than 30 bases around the country and encouraged Starbucks senior leaders to visit military bases.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

How the Federal Job Freeze Could Affect Veteran Jobs

freeze

By Debbie Gregory.

A federal hiring freeze imposed by President Trump will no doubt have a massive effect on veteran job seekers. But jobs in the military, as well as jobs at the Department of Veterans Affairs that are deemed necessary for public health and safety will be exempted from the freeze, according to acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Snyder.

“Right now, the system’s broken,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer, adding that the freeze is meant only to “pause” hiring until further analysis can be done and a plan put in place to fix things.

“What we need to do, whether it’s the VA or any other agency, is make sure that we’re hiring smartly and effectively and efficiently,” Spicer said.

The hiring freeze has come under fire from dozens of Democrats, including every Democrat in the Senate, who say it disproportionately affects jobs for veterans, as the VA won’t be able to hire support staff and veterans won’t be able to apply for federal jobs. The Democrats wanted Trump to exempt the entire VA from the order.

“And I think the VA in particular, if you look at the problems that have plagued people, hiring more people isn’t the answer, it’s hiring the right people, putting the procedures in place that ensure that our veterans — whether health care or mortgages or the other services that VA provides to those who have served our nation — get the services that they’ve earned.”

Not mentioned is staff to handle benefits claims, which are ideal government jobs for veterans. Hundreds of thousands of appeals for disability benefits claims are pending, and critics of the hiring freeze have said it could cause back-ups that would impact those who have served.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Veteran Employment Stats Reveal Jobless Rate for Post 9/11 Veterans on the Rise

bls

By Debbie Gregory.

While the average 2016 unemployment rate for the latest generation of veterans is on schedule to be approximately 5 per cent, November’s rate jumped to 6.5 percent. This increase brought the veteran employment rate to its lowest level of 2016.

While the November unemployment statistic for post-9/11 veterans might not look good, there is still plenty of reason for optimism.

The unemployment rate spike from October, when the rate charted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was 4.7 percent for post-9/11 veterans, is large. But such spikes are far from rare and are often followed by similarly large drops. For example, the rate jumped from 4.7 percent this February to 6.3 percent in March and then tumbled to 4.1 percent in April.

Jackie Maffucci, research director for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, has said that because the post-9/11 unemployment data is based on a very small sample size, such volatility is common.

Economists advise not to pay too much attention to any one month’s results but rather to look at multi-month trends.

Those trends have been toward lower post-9/11 veteran unemployment for years, with unemployment dropping lower in 2016 than it has ever been before. A single month’s rate spike cannot change that.

To view the Bureau of Labor Statistics full report regarding the unemployment status of all veterans, which was updated on December 2, 2016, go to https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t05.htm.

NOTE: Veterans who served in more than one wartime period are classified only in the most recent one. Veterans who served during one of the selected wartime periods and another period are classified only in the wartime period.

If you are job hunting, make sure to check out the MilitaryConnection.com Job Board, as well as the Virtual Job Fair, where you’ll find jobs for military veterans as well as employers who are hiring military veterans.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

One Veteran’s Road to Entrepreneurship

derek

By Debbie Gregory.

You may not have heard of professional comic book artist Derek Rodenbeck. His road to entrepreneurship has not been a smooth one, but his attitude is one of perseverance.

The Army sergeant returned home from a year’s deployment with post-traumatic stress disorder. Through no fault of his own, Rodenbeck was homeless for a while, living in his 1998 Subaru with his service dog, Kuma, a 140-pound Akita. He worked as a bouncer and occasionally competed in strongman contests.

In April, 2015, Rodenbeck had been one of 19 participants in St. Joseph’s University’s Veterans Entrepreneurial Jumpstart (VEJ) program, an all-expenses-paid business-development training program for disabled vets.

Participants completed online classes to develop a business plan, then spent seven days on campus with guest lecturers, panel discussions, one-on-one mentoring, and a Shark Tank-style presentation. Post class assistance included website development, tax and accounting assistance, and mentoring.

At the conclusion of his VEJ program, Rodenbeck impressed the panel of judges with his pitch for a line of clothing featuring artists’ designs.

“You are the canvas,” he said of the idea behind his brand. He planned to start with T-shirts, then expand to dresses, swimsuits, and jackets, and to have his own cut-and-sew facility.

Small-business reality interfered with that plan, however. He sold his first batch of 40 T-shirts for $20 each, but “was definitely in the red” and did not have the capital to keep going.

Recently Rodenbeck attended the awards dinner for this year’s VEJ class, where he impressed Ralph Galati, director of the Office of Veterans Services at St. Joe’s and co-creator of the entrepreneurial-training program.

“I noticed a different person that was not the quiet, reserved person” he met last year, Galati said. “I think we drew it out of him. You never know what little nugget you might drop in a class, and someone takes it and that seed germinates.”

“The struggle still exists but I’ve learned it’s how we adapt to the problems we face and utilize them to find solutions,” Rodenbeck said.

How long VEJ continues depends on how effectively Galati, a disabled Air Force vet and former Vietnam POW, meets his current mission: finding a financial backer.

Its seed money – a $1 million endowment by 1968 alum Frank Trainer – will fund the program through 2018, Galati said.

“We would love to have a local sponsor, a local large corporation or two, stand tall with decent money,” he said.

“These programs help disabled veterans realize their goals by providing education and mentorship services free of charge that are too often unaffordable for those who have served our country,” Galati said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Tips for Veteran Job Seekers to Ace the Interview

ace the interview

By Debbie Gregory.

You already know your resume set you apart as a veteran job seeker because you have secured an interview. Perhaps your status as a military veteran aided you in this first step, because employers recognize the value of your military experience.

The one thing your military experience may not have prepared you for is the interview process when seeking post-service veteran employment. Polishing your interviewing skills can mean the difference between getting the job and being a runner-up.

Here are some great tips to guide veteran job seekers before, during and after the interview:

Before the interview do’s: Preparation is key. Know your strengths and weaknesses, your interests, and your career goals. Gear your resume to the particular job you’re applying for. Research the people interviewing you, the company, and the job itself. Know what does the company does, how they compare culturally and financially to their competitors, the company’s history, the requirements for the job, and how your experience matches those requirements. Practice interviewing with friends.

During the interview do’s: Arrive early. Offer a confident, firm handshake. Remember that you are, first and foremost, having a conversation. It’s nerve-wracking and highly formalized, but avoid stock responses. Communicate effectively with your interviewer. Mirror his or her communication style. Allow your interviewer to set the tone of the conversation. For example, if the interviewer seems all business, don’t attempt to loosen him or her up with a joke or story.  If the interviewer is personable, try discussing his or her interests. Often personal items on display in the office can be a clue.  If asked a direct question, answer directly. Maintain good posture, eye contact, as steady a voice as you can muster, even if you’re nervous, and a positive attitude.

After the interview do’s: Make sure the interviewer knows that you’re interested in the position, you know you can do the job, and that you will put forth 100% effort. Thank the interviewer for his/her time, and inquire what the next step is. Be sure to get the interviewer’s business card and send a thank-you letter.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Civilian Hiring Managers Value Veteran Employees, but Struggle to Understand Military Culture

Veterans in the workplace

By Debbie Gregory.

 

A new survey from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program found that while civilian hiring managers have great respect for veterans and see them as valuable recruits, they struggle to understand the culture.

The study, conducted between 2015 and 2016, surveyed 400 human resource professionals nationwide, as well as 1,000 veterans who have transitioned out of the military in the last five years on their perceptions during the recruiting and onboarding processes.

Hiring managers actively look to hire veterans, see them as ideal employees, and value the contributions they make. Managers listed military experience as one of the top three recruiting priorities for their firms, with 77 percent calling their skills an important addition to the work force. Eighty percent ranked finding employees with higher education degrees that same level of importance.

With that said, they also express some concerns about hiring veterans. More than half of the hiring managers surveyed said they had little to no understanding of military rank and structure, making it difficult to match veterans’ experience with appropriate jobs.

The study, which included interviews with 400 hiring professionals and 1,000 veterans, found that business leaders have helped make their corporate culture more welcoming to transitioning troops in recent years.

The Merck Foundation funded the study.

The study also revealed that HR managers overwhelmingly see veterans as more disciplined, collaborative and hard-working than their civilian counterparts.

While less than 25 per cent of managers think their workplaces have negative biases against veterans, nearly half of the veterans surveyed said they have faced negative attitudes and treatment in civilian jobs.

Retention still seems to be an issue. Veterans who left a job within a year of being hired cited difficulty relating to colleagues and the company’s operations and culture.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Top Ten Tips for Vets to Achieve Successful Civilian Careers

trans

By Debbie Gregory.

Transitioning from the military is an exciting time in your life, but it can also be a little intimidating. In order to help you achieve success, here are some tips to help you navigate your way into your new civilian career:

  1. Deal with issues

You need to demonstrate that you are a team player and are engaged with the company’s needs. Learn the company’s issues and priorities, and how you can contribute to dealing with both.

  1. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover

Unlike the military, there are no uniforms with rank that reveal someone’s position within the organization. Until you’ve been with an organization for a while and have figured out who is who, treat everyone as if they are the boss.

  1. Don’t rely on military terms

While addressing those at work as “sir” and “ma’am” will set you apart in a good way, it’s important to remember that you need to civilian-ize your speech in order to be understood.

  1. Loosen up a bit

Military customs and courtesies don’t often translate well in the civilian world. Gauge your behavior to your company’s social culture. If it is a bit laid back, your behavior should fit in with that. Rely on your coworkers to educate you.

  1. “Praise in public and punish in private” is still important

In the military, you learned that the best leaders heap praise on their teams in public and choose to go behind closed doors to make corrections. Stay with that, even though sometimes you may see the opposite.

  1. Don’t overshare PTSD or TBI

While your civilian counterparts at your new job may be curious and ask questions about your experiences in the military, a measured response will serve you better than too much detail. This is especially true of the invisible wounds, such as PTSD and TBI. Private information should be shared on a need-to-know basis, or in with those with whom you truly feel comfortable with. Which brings us to the next tip:

  1. Be prepared for off-the-wall questions

There is a large disconnect between veterans and civilians. Most civilians would never intentionally ask rude questions, but should a question come off as rude or ignorant, try to roll with it.

  1. Learn the company’s corporate culture

Corporate culture is comprised of the values, beliefs and attitudes that characterize the company and guide its practices. To some extent, a company’s internal culture may be articulated in its mission statement or vision statement. Learn it. Know it.

  1. Find out how to advance

Build a diversity of relationships and rely on those individuals for honest feedback, advice, insight, and information. Include peers inside and outside the company, higher-ups in your chain of command and in other divisions, someone in your company’s human resources department

  1. Join your company’s veteran affinity group

Take advantage of the camaraderie, assistance and support of your co-workers who have traveled a path similar to yours. If there isn’t one, start one. Your employer will only benefit from the support provided to their veteran employees.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Interview Do’s & Don’ts, and the Questions You Should/Should Not Answer

job

By Debbie Gregory.

If you’re searching for a veteran job after military service, you may be out of practice when it comes to the job interviewing process. Here are some important tips.

Do’s:

Prepare: Research the people interviewing you, the company, and the job itself. Know what does the company does, the requirements for the job, and how your experience matches those requirements.

Engage: Remember that you are, first and foremost, having a conversation. It’s nerve-wracking and highly formalized, but avoid stock responses. Preparation is a foundation, not a set-in-stone strategy.

Ask the right questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but make sure they are the right questions. For example:  Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare? Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications? What are the challenges of this position? What do you like most about working for this company?

Close on a positive: Towards the close of the interview, look the interviewer in the eye and say, “I can do this job, and do it well. I am the type of person who puts 100% effort and energy into my work. What are the next steps?

Do not flinch and wait for an answer. No one likes rejection and they want a candidate who will accept the offer and not reject it.  This might be the most important part of the interview.

Don’ts:

Be late: This rule is ironclad. No excuses, no exceptions. Showing up late shows disregard for your potential employer’s time, and insinuates your inability to plan.

Say negative things about your current or past employers or managers: No matter how grounded your complaints are, negative comments will be viewed as disrespectful. When faced with the challenge of talking about former employers, make sure you are prepared with a positive spin on your experiences.

Be Desperate: Never let on that you’re applying just because you need a job. It’s in the best interests of the employer to hire a passionate employee rather than someone who is simply filling a slot.

Show lapses in your professional veneer: The interview begins as soon as you receive notice that they want to interview you. Party pictures on social media? Not a great idea. As soon as you enter the building, make sure you treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Don’t let your professional veneer slip for a moment.

Talk too much: Don’t take too long to answer direct questions. It gives the impression that you can’t get to the point. An even though you’re nervous, try not to over-talk.

Ask the wrong questions: Examples of this would be: How much does the job pay? What are the benefits? What can you tell me about your company? (You should have already done your homework.) How long will it take to get a promotion? Are you flexible on the schedule? Can I work from home?

Give away too much information: Don’t weaken future earning potential by speaking too freely about current income. No matter the official salary range of the position you are interviewing for, your current earnings have an enormous effect on the size of the offer.

You already know your resume set you apart as a candidate of choice to be invited for an interview. Hone your interviewing skills to actually win job offers. Polishing your interviewing skills can mean the difference between getting the job and being a runner-up.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Pay For Success Veterans Employment Program Launched By VA

pay for success

By Debbie Gregory.

The VA Center for Innovation (VACI) and VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment teams are partnering with the Corporation for National Community Service to launch the Veterans Employment Pay for Success (VEPFS) Program.

Transitioning from military service to civilian life can be an uncertain time for Veterans. For Veterans returning home with complex PTSD symptoms, jobs for military veterans can be hard to maintain, and the lack of employment can have compounding consequences for their PTSD symptoms.

The idea behind Pay for Success is simple; instead of paying upfront for a social service that may or may not achieve the desired results, the government only pays once an intervention produces specific, measurable, and positive outcomes.

In Pay for Success programs, the payout occurs only after a rigorous evaluation determines that the pre-agreed-upon outcomes have been achieved due to the intervention. In other words, the VA is only paying for what works, what is successful.

While transitioning from military to civilian life is unique to each veteran and their circumstances, regular and supportive employment can provide the stability to tackle mental, physical and social challenges.

The Pay for Success program is the first of its kind to be attempted by the VA. This goal is consistent with the mission of VA, which is to fulfill President Lincoln’s promise, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.

The VA’s Office of Economic Opportunity within the Veterans Benefits Administration has a further defined mission to “Help Veterans attain personal and economic success” through a variety of benefits, services, and activities including promoting employment opportunities for Veterans. The targeted veterans for this Pay for Success pilot will need to have Service-connected Disability of PTSD.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Law Enforcement Jobs for Veterans- Acing the Interview

police interview

By Debbie Gregory.

Law enforcement officers and military veterans have a lot in common: both wear their uniforms with pride; both are a part of a larger team of professionals protecting those who can’t protect themselves; both put their personal safety at risk; and both operate within a rigid command structure. There is a natural path that leads many military veterans to seek jobs in law enforcement when they transition to the civilian workforce.

Some pre-planning can help close the deal after the interview process to secure law enforcement jobs for veterans.

The interview is where you get your sole opportunity to make a good first impression. Preparing your answers to commonly asked interview questions can make or break your chances of getting the law enforcement job you are hoping for.

Why do you want this job? Draw on those similarities between military service and law enforcement: the service to those who can’t protect themselves, the camaraderie, and being part of a team.

What is your biggest weakness? Focus on something that you have worked on to improve. For example, if your tactical driving skills were less than what you were happy with, share some of the details of the advanced driving course you took.

Why should you be hired? Again, call on your military service, stressing that you are a physically and mentally fit candidate. You have good decision-making abilities, common sense, and respect a paramilitary chain of command.

Important don’ts to keep in mind:

  • Just like a civilian shouldn’t badmouth a previous boss, you shouldn’t badmouth those you served under. If you had a particularly challenging officer, focus on what you learned from that person.
  • If you’re asked to tell your interviewer about who you are, resist the temptation to give a chronology of your adult life. Instead, focus on your life experiences as they pertain to the job.
  • When it comes to compensation, don’t give an exact number. You should be familiar with the salary range, and you can say that you expect to be paid the appropriate range for this job, based on the location and your experience.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.