Riding in a cab from the airport to my hotel in Detroit, I was reminded how blessed I am. I was there to prepare for the big Veteran hiring event and the tone was very quiet. Early Monday morning I ran (walked) over to Cobo Center and made my way into the fair floor to make sure all of our pallets and boxes had shown up. The first person I met was a Navy Veteran that is eligible to retire from the Carpenters Union. He was there to assist us with the installation of our large exhibit display. He noted that he was 53 years old and had already pre-registered for the upcoming event.

Scrambling around until the last minute that night, we got the booth ready to go and I headed back to my hotel. I heard that the town expected a million people to view the fireworks over the water that night. Many Veterans will understand why I did not join them, but I did find it odd that the night before all the Veterans came to town, the biggest firework show in the area was taking place.

That same night, I met a local Veteran on the street outside the hotel. I have no idea why he was there; however, we had an instant connection and told stories to each other until he walked off down the street. I encouraged him to attend the fair the next day and to look for me; I never saw him.

At dinner, Veteran after Veteran walked into the grill and around the hotel. Many were also there for the National Veterans Small Business Conference, which is a great event for those eager to be their own boss.  Two Veterans in wheelchairs had driven down from New York and had plans to sell medical equipment as a Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Business.

Day one! The doors opened and Job Seekers came pouring in…. Let us reflect on that. I have attended many general public hiring and career events. I have also attended many Veteran career events. The difference is clear; when the doors open, Veterans are eager to work. Overwhelmingly, I have found that Veterans possess the attitude, ambition, eagerness and intelligence to excel in a career. While most are highly qualified with varied experiences and education, some may need some direction to identify their strength. That is the other thing I noticed. Many Veterans are just not sure of what they can do. The problem is that many employers do not know what they can do either.

Coming out of the military, Veterans are at a disadvantage to career job seekers. Veterans made a commitment and stuck to it, thus did not need to search for jobs and improve the skills needed to ensure a successful search. So, let us try this, first review the career search advice in Series One. One Veteran shared with me that he applied to 17 positions at VA, had three interviews and had not been selected. I think we can all agree that those are not bad odds, except for the selected part. Chances are that another Veteran was competing with him, but it tells me something. Understanding of application process- Check; Resume- Check; Interview Skills- Needs Improvement, Follow up skills- Needs improvement. If we are getting the interviews, we have to take a hard look at why are we not closing the deal. Here is a list of possible areas to review:

  1. Appearance
  2. Mannerisms
  3. Communication Skills
  4. Ability to demonstrate experience stated in resume to open position

Once we get to the interview, it is all on us. We have to be able to understand the positions we are applying for and demonstrate how we are the best fit for the position. Good intentions considered, no employer knows what you do as well as you do. They are seeking critical thinkers and they need us to show them why they should hire us.

            The good thing I noticed is that many employers truly have a desire to hire Veterans. Not because they wanted to be nice, because of the Veterans that have gone before us and proven that the same values, ethics and leadership skills valued in most businesses; are those found in the American Veteran!

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Published on Jul. 5, 2012

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