Too often we hear Veterans say “I have served my country, achieved my mission but no matter how hard and long I try, I can’t get a job.” Or for those Veterans that have a job, too many are working in low paying entry level positions that are clearly beneath their education and skill levels. Christina Watkins, who now works as a Career Development Specialist at The Salvation Army Haven Veterans Employment Services, had a similar experience. After two tours of duty in Iraq and a Masters of Arts in Organizational Behavior, she could not even get a job as a barista at Starbucks. Fortunately for Christina, she was able to get the help she needed through JVS Veteran’s First, an agency partner of The Salvation Army Haven, who taught her how to shine on her resume and in the interview.
Lisa Anderson, The Salvation Army Haven’s Veterans Employment Services Program Manager, has been helping Veterans gain meaningful employment since 2009. Lisa has found that one of the biggest problems facing Veterans is learning how to navigate the civilian job market – to find jobs matched to their interests and qualifications and to then present themselves as standout “best fit” candidates to the employer. According to Lisa, “Veterans may be the best candidate for the job but if they haven’t been taught how to present themselves and stand out, they will most likely get passed over.” The Haven teaches Veterans how to stand out on their resume and how to stand out in the interview. According to Linda Broughton, Haven’s Employment Relationship Manager, “Our Career Development Specialists teach Veterans how to leverage their Veteran status meaning while in the Military our Veterans have learned workforce skills valued by any civilian employer – leadership, communications, teamwork, initiative, dependability, problem solving and getting the job done in often adverse conditions and without much instruction.
Representative of the many Veterans the Haven has assisted, one of their Veteran clients who had been unemployed for over a year, was faced with the uncertainty of having to survive in civilian life. He could not find the support and resources he needed to find meaningful employment. He wondered how and where to look; what was he qualified to do; would employers value his skills; how should he talk to employers; how could he translate his military skills into civilian speak and how could he stand out and compete in the job market? One of the Haven’s Career Development Specialists first conducted an assessment to better understand the client’s challenges, education, work experience, short and long term employment goals. Together, they created an individualized employment plan. The Haven provided many services including resume enhancement, a videotaped mock interview, interview attire and presenting the Veteran as pre-screened talent to employers. The Veteran, now empowered, learned how to find jobs matched to his qualifications and the employer’s requirements; how to make his resume standout and how to interview effectively. After two months of working with the Haven, he was hired as a Customer Service Sales Representative with a major nationwide financial institution. How did the Veteran feel? “The Haven has motivated and prepared me for civilian employment – they have shown me which way to go and how to get things done. They have given me all the support, tools and resources that I need to succeed in the civilian workforce.”
When a Veteran Client is a good match to an employer’s requirements, the Haven’s Career Development Specialists go into recruiting mode presenting their client as a pre-screened Veteran talent to the employers’ HR recruiters and or business line hiring manager. The Salvation Army Haven recently got the attention of Activision’s Call of Duty Endowment when Activision’s Corporate Purchasing experienced the Haven’s recruiting process. One of the Haven’s Veteran clients had identified an open Corporate Purchasing position at Activision and felt it was his “dream job”. In a very competitive field of candidates, the client was hired shortly after a Haven Career Development Specialist went into recruiting mode, pre-screening, preparing and presenting the client as a top Veteran talent. After considerable scrutiny, Activision’s Call of Duty Endowment selected The Haven as a 2013 Seal of Distinction Recipient. Forever grateful, the Haven was given funding to expand their services by adding a new Veterans Employment Services location serving Northern Los Angeles County. Veterans wishing to obtain employment services from The Salvation Army Haven may call either Northern Los Angeles County (310) 562-0357 or Southern Los Angeles County (310) 478-3711 Ext. 48707.