To read Part 1 of this 2-part series, click here.

When I began my new position at VA, I was elated to be among the employed again. As a person that has worked since the age of 15, I began to heal from the extended period of despair and lost revenue. After my severance I had only missed one week’s pay. But to me, it felt like a lifetime. I do not joke about this, I understand that I am blessed and I am ever grateful. I know full well that it could have and could be much worse. But is does give me a real taste of what millions of Americans experience at some point in their careers.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I reflected on my job search and took notes:

  1. Always have an updated resume
  2. Always be learning
  3. NEVER job hunt again without a degree
  4. Always be networking

Over the past few years, I have improved my resume, experiences, network and education quite a bit. I completed a Bachelor’s degree and developed a hunger for life-long learning. I have expanded my network with new contacts, mentors, leaders and even past co-workers. I manage to keep up with them on networking sites and learn from industry peers and experts.

One of the things I had not done lately was apply for a new job. I am challenged, and serve a worthy purpose in my position, so there really is not sense in applying for other positions. Or is there? Now I am speaking to the employed, the under-employed, and the satisfied professional. One person’s treasure can be another person’s trash and vice versa… popular today, not tomorrow.

So I began applying. Guess what I am learning – it’s competitive out there. My wife and mother tell me I am the best, but I am reminded that many people are told the same thing. The general rules still apply, but it reminds me to ever be improving, learning and growing. It also validates many job-seeker complaints. The system of applying for jobs is broken. Applying to a job posting is hit or miss. While you may apply, you most likely will never get a response from the person who posted the job. The job poster may be a very busy non-profit volunteer or an overworked HR rep. Often, the job poster does not even work for the hiring company, but is an outsourced recruiter to narrow the search down to a few top candidates.

There are some better tools today to assist in estimating salaries and company culture. Using career sites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor provide analytics and samples that can help you evaluate your own resume. Comparing skills on your profile to those sought by the poster can aid in determining where you stand. Some even tell you if you are in the running or not compared to the other 50 applicants.

The army taught me to “train as I fight”. That means in real life. I must have real tools ready, equipped and prepared. I must know how to use them and where my competition is as well as my co-worker strengths and weaknesses. It also means I need to be an expert at job-seeking.

Stay alert….

Darren SherrardIn May 2008, Darren Sherrard was appointed as the Associate Director of Healthcare Recruitment and Marketing (HRM) at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Workforce Management and Consulting office (WMC). As Associate Director, Darren oversees VHA’s national recruitment marketing campaigns inclusive of television commercials, print and online media, and recruitment marketing sites. He leads a diverse marketing team representing VA Careers’ website, social media sites, and VHA recruitment events. Darren coordinates strategies, campaigns and effective approaches to carry out HRM’s mission of “driving qualified candidates to” Prior to joining VHA, Darren was Chief Operating Officer of a healthcare staffing firm which he modernized from a small regional company into a thriving national corporation. Darren served 20 years in the U.S. Army; 13 of which were spent in recruiting. During that time, he was known for his ability to transform low performing organizations through training, motivation and ability to develop and provide needed recruitment tools. Darren is devoted to finding the best talent to provide the best care for our Nation’s Veterans.

To explore VHA opportunities, visit

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Published on Jul. 8, 2015

Estimated reading time is 3.7 min.

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One Comment

  1. Ana Cuebas July 8, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Thank you for keeping us posted on veterans recruitment issues. It is reassuring to know that someone like Darren Sherrard’s is in charge. It is easy for me to trust an Army recruiter ret to make things happen for us vets. I am absolutely sure things in his hands must be going well.

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