Category: Job Seeking (page 1 of 2)

When to Apply for Jobs: Best & Worst Times

As a member of the U.S. Military, there is a PCS pattern that occurs around the May to August timeframe. In some cases, you could be transitioning out of the Army during these peak times.

Starting your career exploration before your last day in the Army is vital to landing a job at the right time. Depending on the industry you choose to enter, certain times of year might not be the best hiring season for a company. As you review these dates, start planning ahead – it’s never too early to apply for a job.

Best times to Job Hunt:

  • Start of the Year– Most hiring managers may take extended holiday breaks, so if you are leaving the Army in December, note that you may not hear back until the middle of January. If a department receives their new budget this time of year, they are ready to hire people to support their annual goals. This time period of receiving a new budget and needing to fill positions is known as the “hiring push”. Keep in mind, the turnaround time for responses could be a few days to a few weeks in any case.
  • September/October- Post summer vacations, managers are ready to fill remaining positions for the year in preparation for the holiday season. Turnaround time for interviews may be faster than the beginning of the year due to deadlines.

Worst times to Job Hunt:

  • June thru August– After the “hiring push” in the spring, things slow down for hiring which is just a natural pattern. If interviewing members of the team are away for summer vacations, it could take a longer time to hear back and be interviewed. The average time it could take for an interview could be 25 days, but it could take several weeks during a slow period.
  • November/December- If you’re starting to check out due to the holiday season, it’s likely the hiring managers are too. That doesn’t mean people aren’t hiring, but with fiscal year budgets running out and holiday schedules, you will see a dip in job postings. Don’t expect to hear back from many postings between December 20-January 10 unless the jobs are for immediate hires. Seasonal jobs are just picking up in late November and early December, but some could become permanent.

Job hiring and workplace trends are ever changing in the civilian market. A Performance Evaluation is not taken with you to each job as in the Army, but you can use that information with your GuideOn resume, in your cover letters, and as fuel in your interviews to quantify your abilities and responsibilities. Network and stay up-to-date on the latest trends when possible, this will give you peace of mind if you are waiting to hear back from recruiters and managers.

References:

http://careersidekick.com/the-two-best-and-worst-times-of-the-year-for-job-hunting/

https://www.ziprecruiter.com/blog/the-biggest-job-search-trends-for-2015/

Veterans in Recruiting Funnels

How do Veterans fit into a Civilian Recruiting Funnel?

Veterans are no strangers to strategy, models, organizational structures, and formal processes focused on goals or outcomes. Whether this brings any comfort or not, the civilian world does function very similarly in that capacity, especially in the job selection and recruiting arenas.

(The Army actually utilizes a version of a recruiting funnel for it’s own recruiting and selection process too.)

So what is a recruiting funnel?

In its most basic form, it’s a strategy, often represented in a visual form. Think of it as a pipeline (or a process) that channels in a group of candidates (passive or active, depending on the recruiter and position looking to be filled) at the top. These candidates go through a good screening process in the middle that provides recruiters the opportunity to move the most talented applicants quickly to the bottom of the funnel to select, interview, and hire the best fitting applicant (or applicants) from that initial grouping that entered the funnel at the top.

More than likely, as you traverse the job market, you’ll end up in one of these funnels along the way. So it’s important to understand how it works and how you can be the best candidate to make it to the end of funnel for consideration and employment. There are several indicators that can assist in that success rate that we’ll discuss in an upcoming blog, but one to highlight now is a great resume. Our mission at Purepost is to ensure veterans are equipped with the best translation of their time in service which places them in the funnel at a competitive level. If you have not yet utilized the free resume translation service we provide, we invite you to get started today!

Know Where You Fit In: High-Skill, Middle-Skill, and Line Workers

Do you know where you fit in, in the labor force?

The labor force is no longer divided into white collar and blue collar workers. It’s actually broken up into three categories:

High-Skilled: college degree or higher

Middle-Skilled: associates degree or some college courses

Low-Line: high school diploma or GED

When you look closely at U.S. jobs and workers, we’re actually over capacity with high-skilled and low-skilled workers. In other words, there are not enough jobs to fill the demand of workers in the two categories. However, the opposite holds true for middle-skilled workers. As a nation, we don’t have enough workers to fill the demand for middle-skilled jobs.

This is were the military is poised perfectly to answer the call. When you look at the skills breakdown, of the military, based on education alone – we stand strong at 65% middle-skilled. This does not include all the skills and experience we obtain over the years of our service. Some examples of middle-skilled work are:

  • Health care workers/technicians
  • Legal assistants
  • Machinists
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Clerical workers
  • Engineering technicians
  • Green technology jobs
  • Sales
  • Transportation
  • Construction and repair
  • Production

As you can tell, most of this work can be found in the military or is work that is transferable based off the skills, aptitude, and experience we acquire while serving.

This data does not mean it’s going to be difficult or impossible to find a high-skilled or low-skilled job. Nor does it prove that it will be simple to find middle-skilled work. What this does show is where one fits in by education, and can be used to set expectations or prepare for a proactive transition into the private sector.

For further information, see The Future of The U.S. Workforce. If you’re interested on how the workforce breaks down in your home state or the state you wish to call home, check out the The National Skills Coalition by state.

Ted Talks for Veterans in Transition: Talk Nerdy To Me

There is an art in being able to explain yourself. Telling your story in a way that makes it compelling to an employer or interviewer is a skill to be mastered. Explaining your personal contribution and relevance to others doesn’t necessarily involve comprising your background and content but it does involve some self-awareness and delivery. How can you effectively talk and communicate your way through an interview process? Melissa Marshall has some great tips… gone are the days of death by powerpoint.

Gaps in Employment

Explaining the gaps in your employment history can be both nerve wracking and confusing for most people. As many Veterans decide to leave the Military and use additional vacation time to transition into their next career path, this additional gap combined with military service can prove confusing to potential employers too. Employers will sometimes make assumptions about candidates with a gap in their employment and often employers believe the best workers are the ones who already have work. But as with life, things happen. Unemployment happens, transitions happen, and in the end, honesty is always the best route. 

From family emergencies, illnesses, layoffs, and even luck, each person can be faced with the decision to work full-time or use their time and attention for something else. Overall, honesty will be your main champion on your resume and in your interview.

First, let’s discuss your resume. Your resume is a brief overview of who you are and why a company should sign you up for an interview. Most recruiters are looking at your last two positions in less than 30 seconds to determine if you are a quick fit for the job. If this is where your gap in employment resides, it’s time to make sure your resume is setup to answer questions with clear and concise information. (Note: Purepost users can add the following information to your Civilian Job or Skills Sections.)

  1. Professional Experience versus Employment. An Employment section of a resume just tells the reader that you worked, but a Professional Experience section can cover a variety of experience and skills learned over time. This avoids you putting more than one sentence about why the gap is there if it works. Use your cover letter to explain any additional information if needed; your resume should include all the achievements and experiences in the past 10 years.
  2. Volunteer work. Add Volunteer positions into the Professional Experience section. Why? You either provided part-time work for free which the organization appreciated or you provided a skill they did not have but added to the organization’s success. Talk to the organization about being your reference and the title you could list as your “job”. This could include PTA officer, Troop Leader, and Volunteer Coordinator if you gained experiences due to parenting or a personal break in employment.
  3. Stay Active and Share. Emphasize any activities you undertook during the gap to improve your professional standing. School, certifications, volunteering or major personal projects can be mentioned as well as consulting, freelance or contract work. The time you dedicated to a project will show your active learning ability. Additionally, mentoring and coaching peers and children should be noted to share your ability to be a part of another person’s development.
  4. Importance of the Skills Section: Having this at the top shows what you bring to the table regardless of gaps in time. Add years of skill experience to enhance that element if the company has it listed in the job description. For example: “10 Years Project Management”, “Bilingual- Spanish (Read/Write)”, or “2 Years Fundraising”. You can add additional Skills to your GuideOn resume by clicking on the Skills section and adding a new Skill at the bottom.

Next up: How to discuss your gap in employment during your interview. Remember, you want to tell the hiring manager or recruiter why adding you to the team is the best option for both parties, don’t feel that you need to give all the details of your gap. Compare it to purchasing a quality used car. The goal is to find out how well the car will help you and be an asset to your life; not all the bad things it went through and how it might not work in one year due to a previous issue or change.

  1. Job cuts. Why are you no longer with your last employer? Identify if you aren’t at a company because of a restructuring or downsizing. Those two words are important to why you no longer work at a company in a time where there are cutbacks, even in the Army.
  2. Your Choice to Leave. Explain your reason for leaving a company in a positive way during an interview. What were your achievements? What did you learn that you want to use in your new job?
  3. Focus on the future. Rather than dwelling on or apologizing for the break, you want to let the interviewer know that you are excited and ready to work. Be prepared to answer questions based on your previous jobs, experiences, and values. Provide positive, future focused responses and be proud of the accomplishments you’ve had at a job, in school, when volunteering and in life.
  4. Be Honest. At the end of the day, just be honest if asked what you were doing during a gap in employment. How you verbally respond to the question and your physical behavior portraying confidence will allow the person to best understand why you were without a job for a specific period of time. 

With ever changing career mobility and economic tides, gaps in employment are becoming more and more common. Don’t let any taboo fears override your instincts to just be honest and explain periods of unemployment in your professional life. Honesty and confidence in your journey will be your best accompaniment in a resume and interview setting.

Quick Tips on Recruiters (The non-military kind).

Whether you started your military career in a recruiter’s office or not, you get the idea. You know the process. You know that the recruiter’s job is to onboard candidates that are a good fit for the military life. There are questions. There is an interview. There are physical standards to be met. They are your initial step in the military sector. While a recruiter in a corporate setting functions in a similar capacity, they have very little to do with the hiring process other than qualifying you as a candidate for the company they work for. So what exactly does a recruiter do in the civilian world? Do they sit in store front offices and wait for people to drop in and ask about employment?

Fast forward 20-30 years when your time comes to retire and transition into a civilian job, you’ll be taking on recruiters of a different kind. Corporate recruiters function on a very different wavelength with very different parameters and goals. Here are the top 5 things that you should know:

  1. A corporate recruiter is not a headhunter. Different jobs. Different roles in the job marketplace. A recruiter normally specializes in one industry or in one particular company. They are involved in a broad spectrum of human resource capabilities for their company. A headhunter, on the other hand, usually seeks out talent for one specific job and can be contracted by many different companies at once.
  2. Recruiters are the connection between YOU (the candidate) and the hiring manager. They seek to make the best matches for their company, pass those candidates onto hiring managers who then conduct interviews and make job offers. The recruiter won’t be a part of the hiring process past connecting you to the hiring manager.
  3. A recruiter is not there to help guide you in your career transition or active seeking process of employment. They are paid by a company to find candidates to fulfill jobs within their organization. So while a recruiter may help you land a job within their company, they generally won’t make referrals, recommendations, or mentor you in a general sense.
  4. A recruiter will spend a VERY limited amount of time on your resume. So make it concise, easily formatted, and a strong reflection of you who are as an individual! Purepost can assist you in completing your resume as a military veteran entering the civilian sector. Having your military experience translated in a way that a recruiter, hiring manager, or future employer understands is critical. Recruiters are looking at up to a thousand resumes depending on the position, so give your resume the 30 second test. Can somebody not familiar with the military get a good picture of who you are by looking at your resume in 30 seconds?
  5. Ask questions. This is your career and your future. “Once you have my resume, when should I expect to hear from you again?” or “Will you ever submit my resume to a company without my approval?” are questions that a professional should have no issues answering and should welcome from a prepared, professional candidate.

We look forward to providing additional tips and content on recruiters, the process, and how to navigate your way through your career transition. If you have any specific requests or insights, please email us at blogs@purepost.co.

~The Purepost Team

Sources: 
What Does A Recruiter Actually Do?
5 Things You Should Know About Job Recruiters
At First Glance

Interviews: Best Practices

In the first part of this series, Interviews: The Breakdown, we discussed the types of interviews and the basics of preparing for each type. Interviews are new to the transitioning veteran and are different based on the industry and type of business. Let’s explore some best practices once you introduce yourself to the interviewer.

 

High-Level Best Practices

At the core, the two biggest things that you can do to improve your chances of success are to prepare extensively and to understand that the interview is not about you – it is about determining whether you are a good fit for the firm and its culture. In terms of preparation, it’s best to identify a list of potential questions much like those from the University of Pennsylvania Career Services and then have a friend ask them to you while videotaping your responses so that you can review your tone, enunciation, and non-verbals. The more deliberately that you practice your responses to these questions the more that you will be able to refine your answers and determine the best way to present yourself as a candidate. You’d be amazed at how quickly you’ll make the necessary adjustments when you watch the video recording of your practice interview. If it’s possible, there’s also a value-add in going to an actual job interview for a position that you’re not particularly interested in to help further refine your skills and build up your confidence; this will help you get some solid real-world experience under your belt before undertaking the interview at the firm that you’re most interested in.

The second high-level key to success is to understand that the recruiter and hiring managers are looking for someone who fits well with their team and their organization. Make certain to do your research beforehand to gain as much of an understanding as you can about the attitudes, dress, and atmosphere of your target companies. Most interviews also have a predictable flow: they follow a set script, engage in small talk to kick things off, and then get into the nitty gritty of job related details. Recruiters or hiring managers want someone who is going to fit well into their culture, business, and goals but be sure that culture is someplace you also see YOURSELF fitting into. Ask questions and when you are sitting down with the hiring manager or recruiter, build rapport. Take advantage of that small talk, no matter how awkward it feels. It’s very good to come off as confident, however, you need to make certain that you don’t overdo it and portray yourself as brash, arrogant, or egotistical. People generally like dealing with people who are similar to them yet have a strong sense of who they are, the story behind what brought them to this point, and the ability to effectively articulate their story. Knowing your “why” is often the defining moment in successful communication and relationship building with employers, clients, and even friends and family. We’ll dive into storytelling and developing your “why” in our final series on interviewing next week!

 

~The Purepost Team

 

Ted Talks for Veterans in Transition: Body Language

TED has spreading ‘ideas worth sharing’ all over the world since 1984. As something that began as a one-time conference quickly became an annual conference in 1990. TED (Technology, Education, Design) has grown into a flourishing non-for profit organization, finding the cutting edge experts on important issues and ideas.

In a widening global platform of internet virality, it’s often hard to know what is worth your time and what you should just pass by without a second thought. If you have not yet heard of Ted Talks – they are among the most influential dialogues and speeches making impacts on social relationships, educational approaches, technology advances, environmental resources, political endeavors; you name it, there is a probably a Ted Talk on the topic.

So how can Ted Talks help in your transition? We are excited to feature a Ted Talk every month that highlights a different component of the transition process, career development, or civilian workplace. Being aware of modern issues, innovative solutions, and breakthroughs in all areas of personal development can be a driving force in confidence, presentation, and a successful transition.

The way we walk, the way we talk- It all matters. Have you ever thought much about your body language during an interview? The vibe you give off at a social networking event? How your eyes and audible sighs form the relationships and shape the responses others give you?

Dr. Cuddy is a professor and social psychologist at Harvard Business School. Her research on non-verbal expressions of power has afforded some ground breaking insights and explanations that are relevant in just about every facet of day-to-day life.

Leaving the military and entering the civilian workforce will bring a new wave of new people and new experiences in various social situations. What better to know than how our body language affects others and how we can cue others into what we are saying non-verbally. Cuddy explains how her research has empirically verified that certain specific types of body language shape who we are and have the ability to influence positive outcomes for us. The base summary of her discourse at the Ted Global event in Edinburgh, Scotland, is that engaging in “power poses” or dominant postures for as little as 2-minutes a day can decrease your cortisol levels (the stress hormone), increase your testosterone levels, and increase your appetite for risk. Who doesn’t need a little less stress and a little more excitement in their lives? The most immediately obvious use of this model for veterans or service members transitioning out of the military, as well as military spouses seeking employment, is to engage in “power poses” to prepare for job interviews. Dr. Cuddy, along with Dana R. Carney and Andrew J. Yap, have confirmed that employment of this technique definitively improves the performance of job seekers during interviews. Cuddy summarizes the key aspects of the research with, “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”

If you only watch one Ted Talk, make it this one; the guidance and advice that Professor Cuddy offers has the ability to dramatically increase the likelihood of positive outcomes as you move forward in your career and personal life!

~The Purepost Team

Interviews: Your Why, Your Story

Once you have a solid understanding of the breakdown and best practices in the interviewing process, you can begin to drill down to the more specific and detailed practices which can push you over the top. These vary from developing your story, to mastering your non-verbals, and ultimately to honing your impromptu responses to standard – and surprise – questions.  The Darden Alumni Career Services website has a very nicely organized set of tips and best practices which are highly effective and can be applied in just about any interviewing scenario. Having your own personal story down to a science is paramount to setting the tone for the interview.

There will likely be some form of a question where the interviewer asks you to tell her a little bit about yourself. When articulating your story make certain to incorporate how your experience will make you a valuable addition to the company, while being as concise and compelling as possible. It’s really a sort of “elevator pitch” about yourself. Think of it this way, you have one elevator ride of two minutes or less to tell a person why they should hire you. Your story, as with the rest of the interview practice, makes all the difference; rehearse your story over and over again until you’ve mastered the flow and timing to perfection.

Nonverbal communication is another factor that can dramatically impact your success in an interview. Having good posture and positive eye contact is crucial, along with avoiding crossing your arms and fidgeting with your feet. A good general practice is to mirror the nonverbal behaviors of your interviewer and to actively listen while following their pace and flow. By focusing on enjoying the interaction you can help to foster a positive engaging atmosphere in the interview space. In crafting your responses to questions, it’s typically best not to memorize your answers, instead it’s better to have a general idea of how you would reply to a particular question and then allow yourself to respond extemporaneously to create a more natural conversational answer. This focus on impromptu answers assists you in preparing for unexpected questions and allows you to be more adaptive and flexible. The Darden School Alumni Services recommends, “If you happen to become nervous or blank on a specific question, breathe deeply.  Another trick is to ‘ground’ yourself by noticing the feeling of your feet on the floor, or your hands on your lap.  If you need a few moments to think while you formulate your answer, take them.  It’s okay to break eye contact; in fact, most people look away while they are thinking.”

By far one of the most important aspects of the interview is the close.  As humans, we are hardwired to remember the last portion of an experience as Daniel Kahneman mentions in his TEDx video “The Riddle of Experience”. Even if the entire interview went perfectly up to that point, an awkward closing or failure to ask poignant questions at the end of the interview risks you leaving the interviewer with a bad memory of the experience. Make certain to practice a smooth natural finish to the interview, where you allow the interviewer to take the lead and express your gratitude for the opportunity to be considered for the position.

(Sidenote: If discovering your “why” and telling your story are new concepts to you, there are great leaders and research out there to guide and inspire. I highly recommend reading, “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek and we’ll soon have a blog feature detailing additional avenues and resources in storytelling.)

~The Purepost Team

The Value of Your Military Experience In the Workforce

Military experience is complex. Trying to explain it to someone who has never been a part of the community or even known a soldier, personally or professionally, is even more complex. When you sit down to look at career exploration, start with resume translation and interview preparation. Breaking down the process into two phases can be helpful. The resume will be the written, first impression that a potential employer sees as it slides onto the desk amongst possibly hundreds of other qualified applicants. The interview is your opportunity to present yourself as the qualified, professional you are — in person, in real time.

So when you’ve made it through the application process, translated resume in hand, you look good on paper, but what other qualities may an employer be interested in talking about in person that you can directly relate to from the framework of your military experience?

Deadlines

A mission-oriented life means deadlines are non-negotiable. There is most likely a sequence of events either happening, about to happen, or already happened and in review and your task falls or fell somewhere on that spectrum. Every day of your life has involved deadlines that were a part of a much larger objective. While the civilian workforce hold deadlines in high regard as well, your ability to respect, meet, and go above and beyond will supercede the majority of your civilian counterparts. Bottomline: You know how to get the job done.

Teamwork

A successful military career breaks down to your ability to work as an effective, functioning member of a team. The level to which this meant life and death during your time in the military is paramount and has shaped your definition of a team for life. While your future civilian career and the teams in which you’ll interact may not function at such a high level, your success will still lie on the basic ability to work well in a team. Effective communication, respecting opinions, and appropriately executed actions add great value to all career experiences.

Community

A large part of your military career has been laced in and through a community. You have thrived not only in a work environment that required teamwork but a larger community that knows the importance of family, communication, outreach services, and looking out for your fellow man. This heightened awareness and sense of community may not be as commonplace in a civilian work environment, but your ability to connect, give back, and be socially aware of work and social events will position you well as someone who is cognizant to the people, places, and events surrounding them.

Now that you better understand the real value of your experience, take the first step towards transitioning into a civilian job! We’re here to ensure it’s as easy as possible.

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