Veteran Unemployment Down


November 23, 2014
By Michael Schindler

Veteran Unemployment Down – Networking Required

While veteran unemployment is down overall, pursuing viable employment is still a challenge in today’s market for many veterans and their families. Sending resumes and thinking you have fulfilled your task toward employment is short-sighted.

Sending resumes is just the first step.

Mike Abrams, co-author of “Business Networking for Veterans,” and co-founder of a veteran mentoring program called, “Four Block,” is teaching veterans skills to help them establish careers after protecting and serving our country.

Mike is no stranger to transition. He joined the Marine Corps following the September 11 attacks, serving on active duty for eight years and deploying to eastern Afghanistan with an infantry company as the artillery forward observer.  After leaving active duty, Mike attended New York University’s Stern School of Business graduating with an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Mike then founded the Four Block Foundation to help bridge the gap between returning service members and the business community. He is also an adjunct professor at Fordham University and currently a Major in the Marine Corps Reserves.

Mike offered several tips throughout our interview on how to approach this competitive job market:

Don’t expect someone to give you a job: Communicate how you’re able to add value in every interview. “It’s hard to communicate your skills – no Rosetta Stone on this. The Four Block course is set to connect you with real-life individuals that can help you with navigating and answering the hard questions.” Research is key and then getting connected to the individual – Practice, Drill and Rehearse.

Network with other veterans: Veterans represent one of the largest professional networks in the world. Leverage them! I asked Mike where does one find these networking groups and he suggested to start here: 1. Ask family and friends – this is your initial support network and connection point to the civilian sector; 2. If in school go to Legion, go to Student Veterans – 3. Use social media, like VAPP – the Veterans App, or LinkedIn. 4. Volunteer – get involved at the community level…start at the Rotary or Chamber.

Practice your interview skills: Practice your pitch, refine your resume and conduct as many practice interviews as you can. Four Block offers a semester-long course, one day a week. The course requires that one go to a corporation that is involved with Four Block and get familiar with what it takes to be in the civilian sector. No flip flops and cargo shorts – one must be in a suit and tie for the course as well. The goal of Four Block is to help transitioning servicemembers design their next mission, get into technical competencies (what you are matched up to do), then network with companies so you can learn different career paths – build networks.

Embrace technology:  Many veterans embraced Skype while on active duty to keep in touch with family back home and can now use this technology to practice for interviews, as well as make themselves available for interviews with potential employers. Technology is a tool to augment your face to face – but don’t give up the face to face in lieu of Skype. Practice with family members to get their feedback.

When I asked Mike what he saw as one of the biggest opportunities our transitioning service members miss, he said it is taking advantage of internships. One big annoyance (usually involving student veterans) for Mike is that they won’t do an internship. “Do the Internship. A lot of companies hire through their intern pool. It looks good on a resume.”

Mike’s first internship was a four-month, no=pay internship putting stickers on DVDs.

Bottom line: Be strategic and tactical. Know who you want to target, target them, find someone on the inside, plan your follow-up – and practice before the actual interview. Interviews are a time to perform.

And may 2015 bring you a year of viable employment.

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