Tour of corporate duty

Military veterans are entering the job marketin record numbers. Developing the right job-searchstrategy is key to a successful transition.

in health services, home health care, computer and data processing and social and business services.

On closer inspection, the increase in health care personnel will likely warrant a demand for employees in computer technology, human resources, communications and other support personnel.

Spears researched beverage, airline, production, construction and aviation companies to see where his light industry supply skills might transfer. Another creative hint: Get into an organization and establish yourself using a secondary skill and then later, move into a position where you can use your primary skill. This also works in the reverse and networking can be the key to unlocking those doors.

Networking is nothing new to military personnel.

Says David Mitchell, a Job assistance counselor for Right Associates in Vienna, Virginia who coordinates pre-separation seminars at the Army base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina: “Military people network every day, they just don’t call it that. For them, it’s knowing who to go to in order to make things happen.” Job-search networking is simply an act of obtaining information for a specific reason. Here are a few guidelines:
Talk to everyone, not just to people you know. Anyone who is already doing what you want to do (or knows someone else who is) can provide valuable information about the occupation.
When networking, never ask for a job
, ask for information. People are flattered when asked for advice, suggestions, or hints–if you ask for a job, it may turn them off.

Have a one-to-two-minute “script” in your head for introductions. People value their time; don’t waste it giving your life history. If you’re doing all the talking, you can’t be getting any information.
Have a goal in mind for each contact. Know what you are looking for, and make sure the other person does, too. If you lose focus, so will they. Make a note of each contact to help with your follow-up efforts later.

Follow up. No matter how willing your contacts might be to help, you will not be at the top of their priority list. A quick phone call to touch bases is all it takes to get the information they were meaning to call you about.

Spears recalls networking with friends from coast to coast, and says, “It was the follow-up with a networking contact that got me my present job.”

Teria Sheffield, 35, the interim assistant registrar at Savannah State University, didn’t realize the importance of networking when she voluntarily left the Army in 1993. “Military life is sheltered. As a captain, I was accustomed to a more structured environment, and it’s just not the same in the civilian world. Don’t let rejection affect your feelings of self-worth.” Employers simply feel more comfortable with persons who have been referred to them than they do with someone who just shows up on the doorstep. “As long as someone meets the job requirements, they don’t have to be the best qualified to get the job,” she adds. “You’ve got to get your foot in the door by networking.”

Having several marketable skills gives job

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